Bigger budget, better tools sought to end 'learning crisis'
Students in uniform answer their learning modules during an online class under DepEd's blended learning system this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, file

Bigger budget, better tools sought to end 'learning crisis'

Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) - January 14, 2021 - 6:37pm

MANILA, Philippines — A group advocating reforms in the education sector is pushing for more funding and better student assessment as long-term fixes to difficulties encountered while shifting to online learning due to the pandemic.

The Philippine Business for Education on Thursday sounded the alarm over a learning crisis where "access and quality issues are grave, urgent and must be stopped and reversed."

It came after Filipino students' dismal showing in international studies in the last 2 years: last among 58 countries in math and science and also at the bottom on reading comprehension in 79 nations.

"We need to address the fact that many of our children our not going to school," said Love Basillote, PBEd executive director. "Those who do are not learning the competencies they need to succeed in life. This was true pre-COVID. We imagine that it must be worse now."

Figures from the education department showed that more than 2 million students from 2019 opted to skip school in the year under a pandemic, with enrollment figures falling to 25 million.

The new learning setup, largely carried out online, has been hounded by various issues ranging from internet access to errors in resources.

PBEd citing government numbers, said spending on education has not been enough and does not meet UNESCO's education 2030 framework, where 4% to 6% of the country's gross domestic product should be allocated to the sector.

This chart by the Philippine Business for Education shows the country's annual gross domestic product with the total budget allocated to the education sector through the years. (PBEd/Facebook)

This chart by the Philippine Business for Education shows the country's annual gross domestic product with the total budget allocated to the education sector through the years. (PBEd/Facebook)

Among participating countries in the Programme for International Student Asessment in 2018, the Philippines' education outlay per student was also the lowest. "Many of our colleagues in the education space do say that the amount of spending isn't everything but we should also be spending on the right things," Basillote added.

Another chart, citing World Bank figures, shows that cumulative spending per student in the Philippines is the least among countries that participated in the Programme for International Student Asessment in 2018. (PBEd/Facebook)

Investing more on education is among the five key proposals of PBEd to address the present situation in learning. Its president, Dr. Chito Salazar, said a "potential windfall" for local governments to have more resources for education is through the Mandanas ruling, which increased the internal revenue allotment of LGUs.

The sector should also get 20% of the government's annual spending plan to remedy issues such as schools' lack of digital capabilities. Education, by law, gets the lion's share in the annual outlay with P708.18 billion alloted in 2021.

Other proposals by PBEd include an agency independent from DepEd for assessing students, passing a bill for a national teacher scholarship program and fixing gaps in implementing the mother tongue-based learning.

An education commission, with members from the business sector, academe and education groups should also be formed similar in 1991, to introduce long-term plans for learning in the country.

"Any type of delays in our education system really will bring us even lower down the pole," Salazar said. "We are already at a low point and many countries are improving their system."

Education officials have since vowed to carry out reforms and prepare when students participate in the next global assessments. But Salazar is not optimistic that the results would see improvements if concrete changes are carried out. 

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION DISTANCE LEARNING NOVEL CORONAVIRUS PHILIPPINE BUSINESS FOR EDUCATION
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