Worst Education Crisis under Arroyo
Arroyo's disappointing education and economic policies have resulted in
two images of the
One is the Philippines whose talented and skilled people have already left
the land to seek better lives. The other is the Philippines whose people
are anxious to take off, after realizing that the future is dim under this
kind of government.
By Carl Marc Ramota
In her July 25 State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo bragged of a country "on the verge of take off." Her
storyline included increased government spending on education for "better
trained teachers in more classrooms;" 30,000 additional classrooms and
computer access to more than 3,000 high schools in the past four years;
and a "healthy start" breakfast program for young schoolchildren.
Records from the government's own education agencies tell us otherwise,
however. Arroyo's SONA stories are not only a farce; the president herself
is a poor storyteller.
Worst crisis ever
Contrary to the president's claims, Raymond Palatino, spokesman of Youth
Demanding Arroyo's Removal (Youth DARE) and vice president of Anak ng
Bayan (nation’s youth) Youth Party, said the education sector experienced
the worst crisis in the last four years under Arroyo.
While enrolment figures in elementary and secondary schools are increasing
significantly, the education sector continues to suffer from yearly budget
cuts. This year, the education budget is only P102.62 billion, lower by
almost P5 billion from last year's figures.
The Department of
Education's (DepEd) share in the national budget contracted to 11.30
percent from last year's 13.62 percent. But in real terms, the education
budget is only P54.39 billion once adjusted with the current value of the
peso and the inflation rate, a study from Bayan Muna (people first) party
This is reflected in the dismal state of classrooms and facilities and the
severe shortage of teachers in public elementary and high schools
Data from the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) reveal that this school
year, classroom shortage is pegged at 57,930; teachers, 49,699; and desks
and chairs, 3.48 million. Until now, 445 barangays (villages) in the
country still have no elementary schools. Six municipalities still have no
He said the "increased resources" for education did not prevent the
distribution of error-filled textbooks in public schools.
The textbook Asya:
Ngayon, at Hinaharap (Asia:
Past, Present, and Future) published by Vidal Publishing House has been in
circulation for 13 years and is being used in both private and public
secondary schools. But not until recently that an academician discovered
that book has 431 factual and grammatical errors in its 316 pages.
Another erroneous book, Science and Technology for the Modern World 1
and 2 of Diwa Scholastic Press even reached its third edition.
Furthermore, Kasaysayan ng Daigdig (World History) published by
DepEd's leading textbook supplier Vibal Publishing incurred 363 errors.
These books are already shelved in the erroneous section of the Education
department, but surprisingly, these are still being used by high school
Science and math competencies of Filipino students during Arroyo's term
are also one of the worst in the world.
High school students
in the Philippines ranked 41st out of 45 countries in math proficiency and
42nd out of 45 countries in science. Filipino grade-schoolers on the other
hand ranked 23rd out of 25 countries in math and science proficiency.
Results of the national achievement test conducted for the school year
2004-2005 showed that fourth-year high school students garnered an average
score of 46.80 percent while grade six pupils scored an average of 58.73
Palatino said this can attributed significantly to the government's poor
The Arroyo government is among the lowest in Asia in terms of education
spending, with the country's education budget amounting only to two
percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). It did not even reach half of
the prescribed minimum standard for education spending set by the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which
is six percent of a country's GDP.
The country's average even falls short of the average 3.3 percent
education spending in Asia.
Still an elusive dream
Palatino added that college education remains an elusive dream for most
Filipino youth, as yearly budget cuts in state schools and unabated hikes
in tuition and other fees in private schools continue to plague tertiary
This year's average tuition hike is higher compared to last year. The
Commission on Higher Education's (CHEd) partial report last May revealed
that 276 or 20.49 percent of the total 1,347 PHEIs applied for tuition
hike. Now, the national average tuition per unit is P353.03 per unit while
tuition rate in the National Capital Region is already pegged P722.41 per
unit or P15,170.61 for a full 21-unit load.
As a result, Palatino said, students can no longer afford to study in
expensive private tertiary schools and are instead planning to transfer to
public schools or may just stop studying.
"State schools which are considered the last resort for poor
students to enter college are now plagued by similar problems confronting
private schools. Not only are they few now and their enrolment quotas
limited, they are also haunted by increases in tuition and other fees thus
forcing many state scholars to leave," he explained.
Three of the premier state universities in the country experienced huge
budget cutbacks this year. The University of the Philippines (UP) has a
budget slash of P356.99 million;
Polytechnic University of the
Philippines (PUP), P35.07 million; and Philippine Normal University (PNU),
P10.65 million. In fact, a state scholar in the PUP only receives a
subsidy of P43 a day while a cadet in the Philippine Military Academy gets
Recently, the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines reported a
measly 22 percent overall student survival from first to fourth year
college. In June 2004, a business think tank revealed that the dropout
rate in college is at a staggering all-time high of 73 percent.
The report also said most students don't even reach college. Only seven
out 100 students who enter Grade 1 will be able to reach college.
Pre-need code not enough
Arroyo also cited the need to rehabilitate pre-need education companies to
guarantee the education of more students, but Palatino said a pre-need
code alone will not resolve the crisis in education, particularly in the
"We agree that there is a need for a pre-need code to regulate the
pre-need industry. But it does not address the clamor of the public to
stop the rising cost of schooling and the deteriorating quality of higher
education. The major hindrance in acquiring college education which the
president refers to as the ‘great Filipino dream’ is the uncontrollable
tuition increases. And sadly, the Arroyo government has done little to
resolve this problem," Palatino said.
He predicted that more pre-need firms are doomed to close this year unless
the government starts to arrest the incessant tuition hikes in tertiary
schools by scrapping the Education Act of 1982.
The deregulation of college tuition through the enactment of the Education
Act in 1982 opened the doors for a sharp rise in tuition, making higher
education more elusive if not impossible to many students for the last two
Labor export policy
Meanwhile, Palatino said Arroyo's thrust to improve vocational training
and encouragement for schools to produce skilled graduates is an
endorsement for the labor-export policy of the government. "Young
graduates eager to work are disappointed to learn that jobs matching their
skills are available only in other countries," he added.
He said Arroyo's disappointing education and economic policies have
resulted in two images of
Philippines. "One is the
Philippines whose talented and skilled people have already left the land
to seek better lives. The other is the Philippines whose people are
anxious to take off, after realizing that the future is dim under this
kind of government," he said. Bulatlat
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