Roxas: More kids out of school dulls RP competitiveness

Friday, July 18, 2008 | posted in , , , , , , , , , | 0 comments

Senator Mar Roxas warned that the increasing number of children deprived of education puts the country's competitiveness and long-term future in jeopardy. This, as he called on the government to review and reform the education system and revamp the "business-as-usual" way of spending education funds.
"If we want to improve our youth's education outcomes and give them a better chance to progress, we can't be in ‘business-as-usual' mode anymore," he said.

"Ngayong may krisis, pinaka-kawawa ang mga bata. Ang lalong masakit, kung hindi natin maibigay sa kanila ang sapat na nutrisyon at kaalaman, baka mag-‘dropout' din ang bansa natin sa kalaunan (Whenever there's a crisis, the children are most affected. What's more painful, if we fail to give our kids enough nutrition and knowledge, our country might ‘drop out' sooner)," he added.
The National Statistical Coordination Board recently reported that more children do not have access to primary education now than five years ago-16.8% in 2007 compared to 9.7% in 2003-due to the rising cost of living and prices of basic needs. The International Finance Corp. also recently reported that the country's business competitiveness ranking slid down to 133rd, from 130th.

Roxas, the Liberal Party President, earlier filed Senate Bill No. 2294, the Omnibus Education Reform Act, that seeks to fix the defects of the educational system, establish reforms on spending education funds, and set measurable targets.
"We can't raise our education standards by doing just more of the same. We can't drop a larger lump sum in the lap of DepEd and expect things to get better," he said, noting that the Palace is set to submit its proposed 2009 national budget next month.
Roxas noted that most kids drop out from school young: 22% of children who enter Grade 1 will have dropped out by Grade 3. Studies show a strong correlation between poor nutrition and high dropout rates. Furthermore, of all Grade 6 students, only 26%, 15% and 31% of students gain the required mastery of English, Science and Math, respectively.

The bill proposes the institutionalization of a long-term planning process for education, through rolling five-year budget plans that are consistent with quantitative and qualitative targets.

To help identify and focus on students that require special learning assistance, the bill seeks to impose performance standards through diagnostic tests at the end of Grades 3 and 6, key junction points of the students' learning of core competencies.

Meanwhile, to help teachers arm their students with the right competencies and knowledge, the bill seeks intensive training and upgrading programs for teachers. These include training programs on teaching methods using the mother language for teachers in Grades 1 to 3, and upgrading courses for English, Science and Math teachers who are not majors in these subjects.

The proposed reforms in the bill also include mandating the use of the mother tongue as medium of instruction for Grades 1 to 3, as studies have shown that early education in the local language tends to be more effective; and electives for High School, to equip students with the competencies needed as they decide to pursue College or to join the workforce after graduation.

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Kevin Ray N. Chua

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