19 August 2010
Writer: Isagani C. Yambot Jr., MRS-PRIB
Lawmakers today opposed the proposed additional two years in Philippine basic education.
Instead, the lawmakers led by Rep. Dante Tinio (Party-list, ACT) urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to focus its attention on addressing the problems of lack of teachers, classrooms, textbooks, laboratory facilities, comfort rooms and other pressing education-related concerns.
Tinio said the government should fill the need for 54,060 teachers, 4,538 principals, and 6,473 head teachers on top of the immediate requirement for 61,343 classrooms, 816,291 school desks and 113,051 water and sanitation facilities.
“Many of our schools are dilapidated and don’t have a comfort room or even drinking fountain,” Tinio pointed out.
Likewise, Tinio said DepEd will be needing P400 million more to address the textbook shortage. “DepEd needs an additional P91.54 billion over and above its current budget to address all of these resource gaps,” Tinio said.
According to Tinio, DepEd must ensure that grade one pupils will reach and finish high school. He cited studies that only 43 out of 100 hundred high school students are able to finish their secondary education. This problem must be addressed, Tinio said.
“Because of the lack of public high schools in the country, there needs to be a dramatic expansion of access to high school education,” Tinio said, pointing out that out of 42,000 public elementary and high schools in the country only 4,000 of these are high school.
Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. (4th District, Cavite) branded the proposed two-additional year to basic education as “foolish and impractical.”
“We should first address the public school system’s widespread resource shortages,” Barzaga said.
“We already know the severity of the resource shortages like the lack of teachers and rooms. Learning sessions have to be cut short to accommodate other classes while students are forced to share textbooks in groups,” Barzaga added.
Barzaga said many children between three to six years old still do not have access to pre-schooling. “Existing public day care centers are inadequate, while private kindergartens are expensive and unaffordable to poor families. As a result, many children who enter Grade 1 actually lack preparation,” Barzaga said.
Barzaga said extra funds could also be invested in the early computer literacy of elementary and high school students. “We are still in the middle ages when it comes to the use of computers and the Internet as teaching and learning tools in public school,” he said.
Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan (Party-list, Gabriela) said the plan of DepEd will only worsen the existing problems faced by the education sector including the lack of teachers, many of whom are also underpaid.
Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara (Lone District, Aurora), chairman of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, urged DepEd to continue the school feeding program and the conditional cash transfer to poor families in the country.