Human capital

DEMAND AND SUPPLY - Boo Chanco - The Philippine Star

The worst crime inflicted on the Filipino people by the ruling elite of politicians and economic leaders is the utter disregard of the full value of our human capital. When Christ said “The poor you will always have with you” (Mk 14:7) he didn’t mean it is alright to ignore them outside of token attention to win elections. We are supposed to help them move out of poverty.

How badly have we treated the poor? We gleefully enjoy the fruits of their labor as OFWs and BPO workers. But as of 2020, the Philippines’s score is 0.52 in Human Capital Index (HCI). This means that a child born here today will likely reach only 52 percent of his or her potential come adulthood. And that’s NEDA quoting the World Bank.

That is not surprising because even before a child is born here, the mother’s lack of proper nutrition during pregnancy is already a disadvantage for the unborn child. After birth, the nutrition deprivation continues so that by age 5, the brain fails to develop full potential and stunting keeps a child’s physical potentials limited for life.

Our public school system has deteriorated through the decades.  Public school pupils are taught badly and inadequate facilities make learning problematic.

Teachers don’t get the respect they deserve so we lose the better teachers to foreign countries.

Last week, Cheryl Piccio of ABS-CBN’s TFC News Texas reported that over 115 teachers from the Philippines recently arrived in Houston under Special J1 visas. They represent the latest batch of teachers to be hired by Houston area school districts.

Piccio reports that “some 800 Filipino teachers are now being recruited annually for the state of Texas alone. Filipinos also currently rank among the highest in America’s search and recruitment of grade school and high school teachers.”

So, we are left with a lot of less than capable teachers, specially for math and science.

The World Bank also revealed that 66 percent of teachers observed in the Philippines had a “medium-low” use of effective teaching practices. Effective teaching practice is measured by the World Bank as “teachers’ capacity to create a classroom culture conducive to learning, to challenge and engage students, and to foster students’ socioemotional skills to be successful learners.”

No wonder the World Bank in 2022 pegged our learning poverty at 91 percent – which means around nine out of ten children aged 10 struggle to read simple text. The World Bank also found that 40 percent of students in the Philippines surveyed said they had teachers who were sometimes or often missing in class.

The NEDA development plan called for prioritizing reforms and investments in improving nutrition and health, education, and income-earning ability.

On paper, major reform laws have been passed. The Universal Health Care Law was enacted to ensure that care for all Filipinos at all life stages is guaranteed. Then there is the K to 12 Program.

But we are notoriously bad in implementation. NEDA admits we still have to focus on addressing challenges that hamper the full realization of Filipinos’ full potential, such as malnutrition, early pregnancy, and poor quality of education…

In 2018, NAT7 scores show that only 16 percent of Grade 6, 34 percent of Grade 10, and 14 percent of Grade 12 learners scored as “nearly proficient.”

In technical and vocational education and training (TVET), NEDA notes that while certification rate remained higher than 90 percent, most of the TVET courses offered are low-level skills, seven of which are even likely to become irrelevant as a result of automation.

Says NEDA: “Given the huge investments in education, the challenge is to improve the quality of education while also anticipating the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIRe). Availability of teachers with specialized skills (particularly at Senior High School), mismatch in teaching assignments with areas of specialization, and delayed release of education inputs affect achievement of education outcomes at the basic education level.”

NEDA emphasized the need for “upskilling and reskilling of teachers through a transformed professional development program that will equip teachers with 21st century knowledge and skills and reinforce their competencies through the National Educators Academy of the Philippines Transformation.”

The problem is HUGE and requires the help of the successful business entities or else the future of this nation is going to be really bleak… also bad for business.

Perhaps the leading corporations can adopt one or two public schools specially at the elementary level. They will make sure the kids are not hungry and the classrooms are adequate and not overcrowded.

Rep. Ria Vergara of Nueva Ecija suggests partnerships between government and private schools.

“Instead of allocating huge sums to build more public classrooms, let’s channel these funds to private schools to augment their funds and increase the pay of their teachers instead of losing these excellent private school teachers to jobs abroad as domestic helpers, cashiers, caregivers etc.

“After all, our private schools implement the same curriculum of the DepEd. They already have existing classrooms and facilities. Sadly, they are unable to compete with the salary scale of government teachers as this would result in unaffordable higher tuition fees.

“I am talking about private schools especially in the provinces – not private schools like Ateneo, La Salle, etc which don’t need government support.  So many provincial private schools have shut down but can be reopened with government help.

“The voucher system is not enough. Private schools need the ability to increase the salaries of their teachers (not necessarily to the level of public schools) using government funds.

“For example, a private school with 30 teachers making only P12,500 to P15,000 per month… if the government could provide an additional P10,000/month to their salary to make it P22,500 to P25,000 per month that would be a measly P3.9 million per year for that one school. For 2024 the DepEd has a budget of P6.5 billion for new school buildings.

We could use that to augment salaries for private school teachers instead?

“Let’s invest in our human resources and think outside the box. We can encourage private schools to re-open and properly compensate hard working teachers without increasing the tuition fee of students.”



Boo Chanco’s email address is [email protected]. Follow him on X or Twitter @boochanco

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