Teachers group calls on incoming gov’t to address education woes

Education for Development | The Arroyo administration has given lowest priority to education in the national budget since the term of Pres. Corazon Aquino

Teachers group Educators for Development (EfD) calls on the incoming administration to give more priority to education as the 2010-2011 school year starts this month with the education sector in decline and persistently neglected.

According to EfD, the Arroyo administration has given lowest priority to education in the national budget since the term of Pres. Corazon Aquino– at 15.1% of the national (NG) budget from 2001-2010 compared to Ramos (15.5% , 1992-1997), Estrada (18.7%, 1998-2000). However, the Aquino administration recorded the lowest allocation for education at 12.3% (1986-1992) of the national budget in the post-Marcos period.

Despite shortages in teachers, classrooms, desks and textbooks, the education budget of P235.2 billion in 2010 is only a P12.9 billion or 5.8% increase from 2009. This is not even enough to make up for inflation (estimated 4.5%) and the increase in the school-age population (around 2.3%).

The budget for SUCs was even cut P1.5 billion in 2010, to just P22.4 billion from P24.2 billion in 2009.

The Department of Education (DepEd) budget for maintenance and other operating expenses was even cut by P507.8 million in 2010 (down to P22.3 billion) and for capital outlays by P1.05 billion (down to P7.8 billion). Yet continuing debt payments of P746.2 billion in 2010 is over three times the education budget– P405.4 billion in principal payments, P340.8 billion in interest payments.

Sending children to school has been made even more difficult by rising poverty. Enrolment at the elementary level has been declining in recent years, according to DepEd data, from 87.1% in school year 2004-2005 to 85.1% in 2008-2009 which means that 15 out of every 100 elementary-age children are not in school.

Based on DepEd data, out of 100 students entering elementary, only 75 get to finish Grade 6, only 30 of them will enroll in high school, and only 24 will finish high school.

According to the group, these trends are likely to persist with families’ financial difficulties. It urges the next administration not to pursue the performance of past administrations on the education sector and improve national policy making– starting with increasing the budget for education to at least P281 billion next year. (end)

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