Government urged to invest more in education

2 June 2013
Reference: ACT TEACHERS Party-List Representative Antonio Tinio (09209220817)

ACT TEACHERS Party-List Representative Antonio Tinio said that government, with the inadequate budget it has allotted to public education, will be underserving the Filipino youth, including the over 20 million trooping to public schools starting today.

“The government continues to underfund education, with a mere 2.45% share to the Gross Domestic Product, far from the 3.8% spent for education in 1997 and way below the UNESCO recommendation of 6% of GDP,” said Tinio. “This era of neglect—including the ‘lost decade’ under Arroyo administration which saw a massive increase in the number of out-of-school children, and the imposition of additional years by Aquino’s K to 12—caused shortages to accumulate, leaving us this year with at least 46,567 teachers and 32,844 classrooms.”

Tinio observed that the country is also facing an unmet need for a high school in every barangay, with DepEd having just one for every five elementary schools. “That ratio must be reduced significantly in order to deliver free high school education, particularly to the children of poor families in the countryside.”

Despite DepEd’s “zero backlog” line, schools and divisions nationwide still report large gaps not just in classrooms and teachers, but also in non-teaching personnel, textbooks, instructional materials, and other basic inputs. Most CALABARZON schools for instance have dismal ratios of three or five students per textbook and 80 and 95 pupils per classroom in the elementary and secondary levels, respectively. Instructional materials for Kindergarten and Grades 7 and 8 have been delivered, but still short for the expected enrolment.

One elementary school in Dasmariñas, Cavite will be using its covered court for ten classes (in two shifts) a day, aside from using 27 classrooms long slated for demolition and other spaces such as the library and corridors.

“Investment for education, with the political will to do it sufficiently and consistently, is the only solution to the perennial crises in shortages,” insisted Tinio. “The creation of 61,510 teaching items–a fruit of our long campaign for more teachers–somewhat alleviated the gap, though still insufficient for the ideal ratio of a teacher for 45 or fewer students.”

“PNoy only has to make a similar, if not higher, commitment regarding non-teaching personnel, classrooms, and other basic inputs.”

“Government must strive to approximate the 6% of GDP benchmark. Nagpahayag man si PNoy ng mas mataas na budget ceiling para sa DepEd sa 2014, hindi natin binibitiwan ang panawagang buhusan niya ng sapat na pondo ang edukasyon. Nagmula tayo sa mga panahong hindi tumaas sa 2% ng GDP ang pondo ng DepEd, kay tantiya natin na ang plano niyang P255.2 bilyon ay hindi pa rin sasapat.”

With insufficient funding and unresolved shortages, Tinio said that school officials will be forced to impose alternative strategies to decongest classrooms, such as multiple shifting, partitioning of rooms, use of makeshift classrooms or non-classroom spaces, and compelling selected students to enroll in Home Study or Open High School Programs. “These stop-gap measures deprive students of the quality education that can be provided in a regular classroom setting. Some are downright discriminatory, such as the compulsory home study programs.”

“Inadequate public funding for education also result in violations of basic labor rights of teachers and non-teaching personnel, such as insufficient salaries and benefits, non-payment of overtime work, and widespread use of contractual labor,” Tinio added. “Hanggang ngayon ay nagbibingi-bingihan pa rin si PNoy sa panawagan ng guro at kawani para sa salary upgrading at regularisasyon dahil walang lugar ang mga ito sa kaniyang kapos na badyet.” #