Gov't urged: Recognize 'learning crisis' in Philippines to address education woes

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
Gov't urged: Recognize 'learning crisis' in Philippines to address education woes
A Filipino student is seen attending her online class in this photo. Distance learning in the country began in October, DepEd's answer to continuing learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Philstar.com / Irish Lising

MANILA, Philippines — An admission from government that there is already a crisis in learning in the country could pave the way for concrete solutions, an advocacy group has said.

Members of the Philippine Business for Education (PBED) said it was time for a new education commission, 30 years since the last was convened, to introduce reforms on solving the prevailing difficulties in the sector.

In an online forum on Monday, PBED board member Lito Tayag said it is crucial that government recognize the crisis, as the private sector can only do so much to help.

"I think it's fundamental because I don't know whether they have really accepted the fact but we do have a crisis," said Tayag, who is also country managing director of Accenture Philippines. "A lot of the solutions will be driven out of this acceptance."

Among the reforms by the 1991 commission formed by Congress was splitting the handling of the education sector into three agencies: the Commission on Higher Education, the Department of Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or TESDA.

Former education secretary Bro. Armin Luistro in his keynote address, said government and the private sector should come up with a "realistic workmap" to resolve difficulties in learning through the proposed education commission.

Among the issues he said should be addressed are on social equity, students' nutrition, budget for the education sector as well as schools' curriculum and management. 

"This big, multi-faceted, multi-player and multi-generational learning crisis needs the support of all," he said. "But we need a leader to make us all work together...there is room for us to address the crisis."

PBED has long suggested for government to invest more on education, saying in January that the sector should get 20% of the country's annual outlay. Out of the P4.5 trillion national budget for 2021, DepEd secured a P708.18 billion funding.

The group added that local governments can put more resources on education through the Mandanas ruling, which increased the internal revenue allotment of LGUs.

Edilberto de Jesus, also a former education secretary and president of the Asian Institute of Management, said too that the "opportunity to begin progress" in education will be more difficult if the current pandemic situation in the country continues.

As it stands, several provinces have been reverted to stricter quarantine measures beginning April. Metro Manila, along with Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan are also back to Enhanced Community Quarantine, with the curbs being extended beyond a week still possible.

The Philippines has also seen a significant increase in daily coronavirus cases this March, including March 29's 10,016 additional infections to bring its overall count to 731,894.

" I think it is important to make sure to have that buy in from government that we are addressing a crisis," Tayag added.

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