Cebu, Philippines (3 February) -- The recent 1st Biennial Education Congress in Manila that was attended by some 400 stakeholders had assessed the country's educational system to be more development oriented and globally competitive.
The congress had also provided the leaders and movers in the education sector to meet in one summit who are in the best position to discuss and share with one another experiential learning and best practices in implementing some of the sustainable development measures in education.
The gathering also raised a wide range of education issues that included quality assurance and monitoring and evaluation of private schools; TESDA's Ladderized education; classrooms-students ratio; teachers exam and trainings; standards in curriculum development and poverty alleviation through education programs.
In the President's message to the attendees, she underscored the value of education in Philippine society and family life.
"The best gift any family can give to a child and any nation can give to its people is access to a good education. It is the foundation of economic prosperity and individual liberty, justice and self-worth," the President told the gathering.
As can be gleaned from the various reports during the congress, the Arroyo administration has scored high marks in its bid to improve school attendance.
Firstly, access to education was improved tremendously. The Presidential Task Force for Education reported that DepEd through its various programs has encouraged millions of children to go to school by minimizing the cost of going to school.
It stopped the collection of miscellaneous fees on enrollment day and improved classrooms-students ratio to 1:50 on double shifts and the construction of schools in the far-flung barangays.
The government also had a more direct incentive to school attendance through the implementation of "Food for School" program that gives a kilo of rice per day to pupils.
The "Ahon Pamilyang Pinoy" is another unique program that provides conditional cash donations to poor households that comply with rules that enhance learning and health.
Secondly, harmonizing day care centers and pre-schools as part of the Basic Educational System is being worked out by the DepEd and upgrade knowledge of workers and curriculum in Math, English and Science education.
According to the task force, in 2006, 100,000 Math and Science teachers were trained. DepEd also improved its target of one is to one textbook/student ration. In 2007, DepEd has distributed more than 14-million textbooks and other instructional materials.
Thirdly, the government has expanded its public-private partnerships. It provided high school scholarships through voucher system and the government assistance to teachers and students in private education program (GATSPE).
According to the report, the government also increased the number of scholarship grants and loans to tertiary and vocational education through the TESDA's training program and its ladderized education whose allocation already reached to one billion.
Finally, the task force reported that it is only in the Arroyo administration that teachers have been given at least the same increasing bonus that other national government workers receive.They have been given additional compensation in 2006 and a 10% salary increase in 2007 and another third round of salary standardization has been included in the administration bill. (PIA-Cebu/MBCN)