“There remains fiscal shortfalls as the overall education budget allocation is still way below the recommended six percent of GDP, as government spending in the education sector is only 2.6 percent of GDP in 2011.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA –The recent United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) report shows that more and more children are not able to continue studying even in secondary level.
The report, titled “Education for All 2000-2015: Achievements and Challenges” states that in the Philippines, only 69 percent of adolescents from the poorest households who reached the end of primary school continued into lower secondary school in 2008 compared with 94 percent of adolescents from the richest households, a situation hardly different relative to 2003.”
Education for all (EFA) is a global movement led by Unesco aiming to meet the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015.
Children’s rights group Salinlahi Alliance for Children fears that the implementation of the K to 12 program which will lengthen school year from 10 years to 12 years would further aggravate the inability of poor students to continue their studies. Kharlo Manano, secretary general of Salinahi said the common reason why students are forced to stop studying are school expenses, even in public schools. With the K to 12 program, Manano said, school expenses would also increase.
In 2000, during the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, 164 governments, including the Philippines, agreed on the Dakar Framework for Action, Education for All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments. Six key measurable education goals ,which aim to meet the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015, were identified. These goals are: Expand early childhood care and education; Provide free and compulsory primary education for all; Promote learning and life skills for young people and adults; Increase adult literacy by 50 percent; Achieve gender parity by 2005, gender equality by 2015; and,
Improve the quality of education.
Gaps to fill
The Philippines Education for All 2015 National Review shows there are still gaps to fill to reach the target.
Kindergarten has a net enrollment rate for school year 2012-2013 of 77 percent, falling short of the target of 100 percent. The primary school age participation (grade one pupils) rate is 95 percent in the same school year. Secondary school age participation rate is 65 percent. The report also stated that “keeping children in school until they finish their basic education remains a challenge as completion rate for elementary, on the average from school year 2005?2006 to school year 2012?2013, was only around 72 percent. For the secondary completion rate, the average from school year 2005?2006 to school year 2012? 2013 was around 73 percent.”
The report also stated that eliminating dropout in the first three grades remains an issue with Grade 1 having a 13.04 percent school leaver rate for school year 2011-2012.
The Philippine government still has not complied with the budget spending on education recommended by Unesco: six percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) should be allocated to education.
The Philippines Education for All 2015 National Review said that while the Department of Education budget has increased from P207.2 billion ($4.6 billion) in 2001 to P336.9 billion ($7.5 billion) in 2014, “However, there remains fiscal shortfalls as the overall education budget allocation is still way below the recommended six percent of GDP, as government spending in the education sector is only 2.6 percent of GDP in 2011.”
Salinlahi calls for the scrapping of the K to 12 program. The group asserts that the target of education for all could be attained only if there are jobs for the children’s jobless parents and education is accessible and affordable for the poor majority.