Poor nutrition = poor literacy

SPY BIZ - S.A. Maguire () - November 2, 2006 - 12:00am
While news that some P1.12 billion in fresh funding had been earmarked for 76,000 state scholars in the proposed 2007 national budget, it’s disturbing that poor health is causing more and more children to drop out from school. According to Congressman Eduardo Gullas, P441 million had been set aside for the scholarship program of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for some 34,475 college students while almost P70 million has been allocated to subsidize more than 3,000 Philippine Science High School scholars. However, reports from the Department of Education (DepEd) indicated that out of 100 pupils who enter grade one, only 83 manage to continue to grade two, a trend which has been going on for the last 30 years. Out of 70 who graduate from grade six, 63 enroll in first year high school, but only 23 actually end up entering college and an even more dismal number of 14 get to earn a degree. As for the quality of education these graduates get, this is an altogether different issue. The revelation that most kids eventually become school drop outs due to malnutrition has prompted DepEd Secretary Jesli Lapus to remark that these kids are likely to suffer from low literacy levels later in life. The recent disclosure by the International Labor Organization (ILO) that the number of unemployed youth in the Philippines are increasing, with the deteriorating quality of education cited as one of the major reasons for unemployment. Hopefully, DepEd would be able to develop programs that would address health, nutrition and other issues that affect the ability of children to learn well.
Leading PR firm gets global drug business
It looks like the newly-opened Manila office of global PR firm Weber Shandwick Worldwide (WSW) is off to a good start with news that WSW won the global account for top selling cholesterol drug Lipitor manufactured and distributed by Pfizer Philippines locally. The drug has figured prominently in US politics with Minnesota’s opposing senatorial candidates invoking the drug during debates on who cares more about senior healthcare. An official of Pfizer, the drug’s manufacturer, confirmed the awarding of the account but declined to discuss details as to why it changed agencies after working for two-and-a-half years with a consortium called WPP Health Success. WSW, a leading PR firm which is a member of the Interpublic Group of Companies (IPG), reportedly beat other agencies like Fleishman-Hillard, APCO Worldwide, and GCI Group which also made a pitch for the global account. The new development came on the heels of a US Court of Appeals decision to deny a hearing on a 2005 case confirming Pfizer’s patent for the drug’s active ingredient, which ensured that the drug manufacturer will not face competition from generic drug manufacturers until 2010.
Feedback: Credit card surcharges
Readers reacted to a Spybiz item entitled "Six months in jail for retailers imposing extra fees" (Oct. 31 issue) about a DTI administrative order that would penalize retailers who charge higher fees for products or services paid for through the credit card. One reader said that while the DTI order is laudable, the graver problem lies in the exorbitant interest rates imposed by credit card companies which, unknown to many card holders, could reach as high as 51 percent per annum on compounded interest. While some card companies have taken to offering "promotional" loans with one-percent monthly interest but whose effective rates turn out to be a 21-percent yearly interest. Interestingly, another writer disclosed that the only credit card that does not impose an additional charge especially for appliances purchased is the maroon-colored credit card. As simple advise to card holders who don’t want to be saddled with high interest rates and mounting debts but can’t resist whipping out their cards instead of cash when buying items: don’t!
Spy tidbiz: A world without borders
October has come and gone but not many people are aware that 16 years ago, in October 1990, a British-born academic named Sir Tim Berners-Lee coined the term "worldwide web" to describe the first browser platform allowing people overwhelming access to a new phenomenon that we have come to know as "The Internet." A global research conducted by Universal McCann involving 10,000 respondents spanning eight countries reveals a "new" Internet that supports the professional, intellectual, recreational, communication and other pursuits of people 24/7, with these "netizens" latching up to communities unhampered by geographic boundaries. Interestingly, new areas such as blogging, podcasting gaming and social networking are growing faster than "old" Internet applications like email and reading online news. However, the research showed that the old is still fully entrenched in the lives of Asia-Pacific netizens, with some 71-percent checking web-based emails daily while another 63 percent keep in touch through instant messengers, while some 59 percent use the Internet to read news online. As they say, old habits really die hard.
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