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[ 16 Jun 2017 | No Comment ]
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ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro urged the Duterte administration to increase the salaries of teachers and other government workers, as they joined the teachers’ mobilization at the Department of Budget and Management Friday.

“Today, we support the just and resounding call of teachers and non-teaching personnel, as well as the rest of those making up the bureaucracy, for salaries that can afford them decent lives,” Castro said. “We are bothered that, even after nearly a year, we do not see the same support from the Duterte administration.”

Castro noted that President Duterte’s Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 is silent as to salary increases for government personnel, majority of whom are teachers and non-teaching staff.

“We call on President Duterte to issue an unequivocal support for this just demand,” said Tinio. “Since his budget chief Benjamin Diokno expressed an aversion to this demand, President Duterte himself should place as a top priority legislated salary increases greater than the one started by Aquino through his Executive Order 201.”

The solons last year scored Diokno for saying, during the 2017 budget deliberations, that salary increases for public school teachers is “too ambitious.”

“Merely continuing EO 201 is not enough as it gives loose change only for our teachers and other rank-and-file personnel while giving large increases for executives and high ranking officials. We reiterate our demand for P25,000 for Teacher 1 and P16,000 for our personnel,” Castro said. “Our teachers and personnel in the education sector are our front liners and do more than teach our children their school lessons. With today’s rising prices of basic goods and services, they need more than what we are giving them now.”

The demand for P16,000 monthly minimum salary is also the call of other government employees.

“We call on all teachers and government workers to unite and fight for their right for sufficient salaries and benefits in the coming State of the Nation Address of President Duterte. Let us also make them hear our demands in the coming 2018 budget proposal,” Tinio said. “As for President Duterte, we challenge him to prove to our teachers that his promises for salary increases will not stay as a campaign promise.” ###

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Activities »

[ 7 Jun 2017 | No Comment ]

PRESS RELEASE
07 June 2017

ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro scored the Department of Education (DepEd) for not releasing data on the implementation of the Senior High School (SHS) voucher system.

“DepEd failed to comply with the posting and transparency requirements set by law regarding the SHS voucher system,” said Castro. “These are billions of taxpayers’ money funneled into private schools. The public wants to know if these schools really accepted the number of voucher students corresponding to the funds given to them and, considering the costs of private school education, whether these students continued high school at all.”

Under Special Provision 14 of the DepEd budget in the General Appropriations Acts for 2016 and 2017, Secretary Leonor Briones and the DepEd website administrator are mandated to post in the websites of the DepEd and the Private Education Assistance Committee (PEAC) the list of beneficiaries and participating schools. The data are not available in both websites as of this writing.

The 2016 SHS voucher program, which gives funds to private schools accepting Grade 10 completers from public junior high schools, amounted to P11.18 billion. This increased to P23.85 billion in 2017 with an additional P1.17 billion for the technical-vocational track in private and non-DepEd public schools such as state and local universities and colleges.

“The DepEd falls short of the constitutional mandate on transparency when it fails to inform the public how exactly these billions are spent,” stressed Tinio, former chairman of the House Committee on Public Information. “This is troubling since the Commission on Audit noted several irregularities in the implementation of the GASTPE Program even before it was expanded to senior high school.”

Tinio refers to the COA 2013 audit report which observed, among others, that it cannot verify the fund releases of the GASTPE or Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in the Private Education due to the absence of necessary documents and records, including those pertaining to each grantee. The COA also directed DepEd and PEAC, which administers GASTPE on behalf of DepEd, to provide these records and open their books of account for audit by COA for transparency and accountability.

The solons called on DepEd to comply with the law’s posting requirement as soon as possible with the law’s posting requirement and to release enrolment data in Grades 11 and 12.

“Without this data, we cannot determine how effective the voucher system and the senior high school program are in terms of providing the youth access to high school education,” explained Tinio.

“The implementation of the voucher program must be checked especially in light of the lack of transparency and the red flags that COA raised. Instead of adding more funds for it, we should allot the amounts for the operations and maintenance of our public schools. Increasing funds for the voucher program means increasing reliance on private provision of senior high school, which we believe is contrary to the government’s duty to provide free high school education to Filipino children,” the solons ended. ###

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[ 6 Jun 2017 | No Comment ]

ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro scored the Department of Education (DepEd) for failing to build more schools, especially for junior and senior high schools, thus restricting access to free education for more Filipino youth.

“We usually talk of backlogs in classrooms, and DepEd certainly has a lot of those. But it’s about time for it to also face the severe backlog in schools, especially high schools. With 36,492 public elementary schools and only 7,677 junior high schools, children in four or five elementary schools will have to cram themselves into a single high school when they graduate,” Castro pointed. “Clearly, DepEd has to take seriously its school building program and create more high schools.”

Castro added that while almost all barangays in the country have at least 1 elementary school, high schools are found mainly in urban areas and population centers only, at a ratio of 1 high school for every 4 to 5 barangays.

The school shortage is more pronounced in senior high school (SHS), which DepEd started implementing last year, said Tinio. Prior to the addition of Grades 11 and 12, government did not launch a massive school building program to accommodate Grade 10 completers from public junior high schools, then expected to be from 1.2 million to 1.6 million, he explained.

Citing DepEd reports, Tinio also revealed that the agency is lagging behind on its targets for classroom building, meeting only 51.59% of its target units for 2014 until 2016. Of this number, it completed only 25,498 classrooms for senior high school, or a little more than half of its target 49,294 units.

In contrast to its lackluster performance in school building, DepEd is expanding private provision of SHS, relying heavily on public-private partnership and granting permits to more private schools. Per DepEd’s list, a total of 5,965 public schools will serve senior high students this school year, an increase of only 25 from 2016. On the other hand, private schools offering SHS will be 4,729.

“The number of private SHSs will quickly catch up to public SHSs, and we might see a one-is-to-one or a higher ratio between public and private SHSs in favor of the latter,” Castro lamented. “So outside of congested public high schools, our youth have nowhere to go except private schools. For those who come from poor families, they usually become dropouts.”

If government refuses to build and maintain more public schools, especially junior and senior high schools, the number of out of school youth and those who fail to finish high school will continue to rise, the solons said. Per DepEd data, 3.4 million high school-age youth in School Year 2015-2016 were not enrolled in first to fourth year. High school completion also declined in five years, with 1.9 million, or more than a fourth of the enrollees, dropping out in the middle of the school year.

“The only way to bring more students to school is for government to reverse its habit of underfunding public education, which will enable it to build and maintain more public schools, especially junior and senior high schools,” the solons ended. “Otherwise, government will bar more and more Filipino youth, majority of whom are from poor families, from free and complete basic education.” ###

Activities »

[ 4 Jun 2017 | No Comment ]

PRESS RELEASE
5 June 2017

4.8 M children out of school -solons 4.2 M more dropped out in SY 2015-2016

On Day One of the new school year, ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio and Rep. France Castro scored government for failing to curb the worsening out-of-school and dropout rates. This, despite allotting billions to voucher and cash transfer programs alleged to bring more students to schools.

Citing latest participation rates from DepEd, the solons revealed that 4.8 million were out of school in School Year 2015-2016, an 11% increase in 5 years. Elementary school-age children who are not in school more than tripled from around 431,000 in 2011 to 1.4 million in 2015. The number of high school-age youth not enrolled in first to fourth year decreased but remain high in 2015 with 3.4 million. (See table below.)

Completion rate for high school declined in the same period, with 1.9 million, or more than a fourth of the enrollees, dropping out in the middle of the school year. Non-completion in elementary was halved but remain high with about 2.3 million leaving before graduation.

The solons also noted that the wide gaps between elementary and high school enrolments (91.05% and 68.15% in 2015, respectively) indicate that a significant number of those in elementary do not go on and finish high school. This means that while 9 out of 10 elementary school-age children are enrolled in elementary, enrollment in high school dropped to only around 7 out of 10, they said.

“We attribute low enrolment and high drop-out to the alarming shortage of public schools, especially high schools, and the insufficient budget for their maintenance and operations,” Tinio claimed. “With 36,492 public elementary schools and only 7,677 high schools, children in four to five elementary schools will have to cram themselves into a single high school. This means classrooms bursting to capacity, deteriorating learning and teaching conditions, eventually, dropping out of the student.”

Castro added that while almost all barangays in the country have at least 1 elementary school, high schools are found mainly in urban areas and population centers only, at a ratio of 1 high school for every 4 to 5 barangays.

“Students in rural areas take the worst hit. Transportation costs and long travel–hazardous in many cases–to the nearest high schools contribute to students being discouraged to continue their education. That’s why we see Grade 6 completers not enrolling in or dropping out of high school,” Castro lamented.

“The only way to bring more students to school is for government to reverse its habit of underfunding public education, which will enable government to build and maintain more public schools, especially junior and senior high schools,” stressed Tinio. “These dismal enrolment and dropout statistics should be enough to push the Duterte administration to pour more direct investments into public schools.”

The solons urged the administration, which is now finalizing its 2018 budget proposal, to rechannel to public education funds from two big ticket programs, the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) and the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

“From 2011 to 2015, funds for GASTPE vouchers doubled while funds for the 4Ps tripled, but our statistics on access of the youth to free basic education even worsened. This is proof of what we have been saying all along–these band-aids are ineffective responses to low access to education and poor alternatives for direct investments for social services,” they ended. ###

data OSY PR