MANILA (July 20) — The government’s short-sighted approach to education remains the main stumbling block to the country’s long-term economic prospects, opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero said.
“The world has been moving from an economy of goods to an economy of knowledge. Unfortunately, education, which is the main tool in converting to an economy of knowledge, continues to get scant attention from the government,” Escudero said.
“Our educational system is in dire need of an overhaul. The government’s attitude towards education has left wide, gaping loopholes that need to be immediately addressed,” he added.
The 39-year old senator called for a “no-child-left-behind” policy for education, given the country’s embarrassing dropout rates for elementary (6.7 percent) and high school (8.9 percent) in the past five years.
“We must give our children the equal opportunity to develop their minds and bodies to the fullest. We will continue, even expand, the conditional cash transfers (or CCT’s) to the poorest families so that their children will have the means to get to school,” he said.
Escudero said education should be a genuine tool of national policy especially in relation to economic development.
“The higher the knowledge and skills of our workforce, the higher their earning power will be. This redounds to improved economic activity. Whether our workforce decides to remain here or go abroad, the economy will still benefit because of their remittances,” he explained.
“We must bring together and match our graduates with the demands of industry and the market,” the senator added.
Escudero also called for the implementation of an ICT (information and communication technology) Education Development Plan as a major step towards establishing a knowledge-based economy.
“Our neighboring countries have recognized the importance of ICT in education. They have adopted and are implementing national policies and strategies towards this end. We must step up efforts to institutionalize ICT as a national priority in education,” the senator said.
Escudero lamented that fundamental issues such as classroom shortages continue to hound the country at a time when other countries have moved to the next levels of education development.
“While we talk of knowledge-based economies and ICT as institutional educational platforms in other countries, the Philippines still has a backlog of 40,000 classrooms,” he said.
“At a cost of P500,000 per classroom, it would cost only P20 billion to build everything. That’s only one year’s income of PAGCOR. I am incredulous how the future of millions of Filipino children has been irretrievably lost because of the insatiable greed of those in power,” Escudero said.