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Gatchalian calls for more funds for education

Neil Jayson Servallos - The Philippine Star
Gatchalian calls for more funds for education
We are facing an education crisis. When the pandemic hit, we poured funds so we could leave the situation as quickly as possible. If we don’t pour resources towards learning recovery, our rise from being inundated in this education crisis will be excruciatingly slow,” Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said in Filipino.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo

MANILA, Philippines — If the government were as serious in dealing with the current education crisis as it was in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of children would have been helped in improving their learning proficiencies, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said on Wednesday as he called for support in pouring financial resources into the education sector.

Speaking during the Department of Education’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) forum, the senator said there is a need for the government to bankroll the sector’s learning recovery efforts amid worsening literacy and numeracy rates among schoolchildren.

“We are facing an education crisis. When the pandemic hit, we poured funds so we could leave the situation as quickly as possible. If we don’t pour resources towards learning recovery, our rise from being inundated in this education crisis will be excruciatingly slow,” Gatchalian said in Filipino.

Aside from the dismal performance of the Philippines in the 2022 PISA, the assessment also highlighted the difference in investments poured by each country toward education.

The 2022 report showed the average spending of the government per student was $11,030, which pales in comparison to other countries that participated in the PISA that allot an average of $120,000 per student.

As the country gears for another attempt at PISA in 2025, Gatchalian said now is the time to bankroll efforts to improve the Philippines’ performance in the international assessment.

He said the government’s priorities should be intensifying learning recovery efforts for literacy and numeracy, continuing teacher training and reforming the education system.

“The learning recovery budget will be insufficient because it is only P2.9 billion. It’s a long way from the P10 billion needed for intensive learning recovery,” Gatchalian said.

The senator said he would be drumming up support from colleagues in the Senate to tap into contingency funds that could be realigned to the learning recovery budget of the education sector.

Among the agencies whose contingency funds he is eyeing to tap is that of the Office of the President.

English proficiency

Baguio City and the Cordillera Administrative Region topped the country’s lists of cities and regions with very high English proficiency.

The 2023 EF English Proficiency Index said the results of EF’s “in-depth country-specific analysis” of 19 Philippine cities, Baguio City got the highest score with 619 followed closely by Dumaguete City with 618 and Davao, 609.

Among the 18 regions tested, CAR topped the list with a score of 616 followed by Davao region with 606 and Eastern Visayas, 596. Manila was only at seventh place with 587 while National Capital Region was a mere fourth place with a score of 593.

The Philippines ranked 20th among 113 countries worldwide by retaining its overall score of 578 from the 2022 index and made it to the list of countries with high English proficiency. The Netherlands was number one globally.

Among 23 countries in Asia, the Philippines placed second to topnotcher Singapore which also ranked second globally. According to the index, English proficiency had been highest among Filipinos under the age group of 26 to 30.

The index, which ranks English-language skills in countries where English is not the native language, was based on the standardized test results of 2.2 million participants from the 113 countries. – a Artemio Dumlao

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SEN. SHERWIN GATCHALIAN

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