Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday urged his colleagues to immediately pass a bill establishing an education commission in the Philippines to address serious issues hampering the country’s education system, such as the funding and the lack of classrooms.
Drilon said there was a need for Senate and House leaders to immediately form a body – through an education commission – to provide longer-term solutions.
“Let’s have a roadmap, agreed upon by the executive and the legislature, to provide a solution to this problem, rather than each budget, we debate how much would be given to education,” Drilon said in the marathon session. on the 2022 draft budget of the Ministry of Education (DepEd).
“There must be a plan to address this very serious concern in the education sector,” he said.
Drilon said he was alarmed by a recent World Bank (WB) study which showed that most 10-year-olds in the country cannot read. The WB study also said schoolchildren in the Philippines are struggling to study remotely due to the pandemic that has pushed learning poverty to a new high of 90% in 2020.
Reading the World Bank report, Drilon noted that Indonesia has 35.4 percent; Malaysia, 13.9%; Singapore, 2.8%; Thailand, 23.5%; and Vietnam, 1.7 percent. In contrast, he said the Philippines joined the ranks of Ethiopia, Madagascar, Yemen and Afghanistan at the bottom.
“I am so sad that this is happening to us … We beat everyone in this intrusive data: 9 out of 10 aged 10 could not read,” lamented the senator.
“It’s quite alarming. It affects the ability of our future generation to be useful citizens of our country. This should be of concern to our education sector. This should worry the administration. We should give more funds to the education sector, ”said Drilon.
In response, Senator Pia Cayetano, who defends the DepEd budget, said the agency was already finalizing its 2030 development plan, which is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and aims to provide strategic direction for doing so. in the face of the impact of COVID. -19 and concerns about learning.
Nonetheless, Drilon said he would support DepEd’s original budget proposal of 1.3 trillion pesos, as he criticized the lack of priority given to the education sector.
As part of DepEd’s proposed budget for next year, the agency is expected to receive 590.19 billion pesos.
“Kahit ano pang gawin natin, kung ang education sector ay hindi po nabibigyan ng sapat na suporta dahilan sa mga prior na nandiyan his budget (whatever we do, if our education sector does not receive sufficient financial support due to other budget priorities). No amount of adjustments to the DepEd budget in the Senate will solve the problem… ”said Drilon.
“The education sector suffers in terms of priority compared to, for example, the security sector. It’s quite unfortunate, ”said the veteran lawmaker.
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