Roxas cramming to catch up with UNMDG 2015 goals?
A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - August 28, 2014 - 12:00am

Yesterday, DILG Secretary Mar Roxas announced that all mayors and governors must protect the rights of children in the article entitled, “LGUs Urged to Promote Child-Friendly Environment,” featured last Aug. 25 on page 4 of The Philippine STAR. It deserves, however, to be a front-page item because it looks like the government’s first response to its failure to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals 2015 at this late date.

Let me compare our governance to a student’s perennial failure in school, in danger of not graduating. Usually the assignments, quizzes and quarterly exams are not met successfully. In the case of our government, the newly elected president raises the hope of the nation by setting a high tone of governance with his national plan of action. Thus the whole country expectantly listens to him during his inauguration. His accomplishments are identified each year when he gives the State of the Nation address, comparable to the student’s passing the quarterly exams. Any failure has to be addressed with intensive solution with his Cabinet members, who should always be alert concerning major issues destroying the morale of the country such as rising food prices, smuggling, street crimes, energy failure, calamity management or traffic. Tutoring helps greatly if he is wise enough to heed the enlightened governance style of the ASEAN neighbors like Lee Kuan Yu, Nehru, His Royal Highness King Bhumibol Adulyadej or Abenomics of Japan.

Getting our act together to eradicate poverty

Once and for all let President Benigno Aquino III and his Cabinet get their act together to resolve the complex issues in our country. Just one Cabinet member cannot solve them for they are usually interrelated. For DILG Secretary Mar Roxas to issue the circular of DILG’s Child-Friendly Local Governance Audit (CFLGA) is merely rehashing the old 2005 “Child-Friendly” program identified by the DSWD-CWC for mayors that failed to take off until now.

This so-called performance measure is misaligned to the UNESCO Asia Pacific remedy for the uncompleted agenda of the UNMDG among developing countries like ours. The 12-point criteria on which local government is to be assessed is in no way uplifting, for they set inferior standards that have caused high rates of child and maternal mortality (c/o DOH) caused by increasing adult illiteracy (c/o Bureau of Alternative Learning System) and drop-outs in Basic Education (c/o DepEd), trafficking of women and children (c/o DOF, police, DOJ) and ineffective Local School Board which fail to sustain school facilities and sanitary surroundings. How can this be if we only hold a clean up Brigada event once a year, when parents should do this regularly on a weekly or monthly basis?

Strengthening and alignment to the 7 proposed Asia Pacific Education Targets beyond 2015

In 2010, there were 250 million children with four years schooling who remain without basic literacy and numeracy. Two hundred million 15-24 year olds had not completed primary school. About 620 million young people were neither working nor studying.

Last August 6 to 8, I was invited to Bangkok to attend the Asia Pacific Regional Education Conference (APREC), the first of a series of UNESCO regional evaluation forums in the world evaluating Education For All. This is the most important commitment to education that was first initiated in 1990 at Jomtien, Thailand and reaffirmed in 2000 at Dakar Africa, the year the UN Millennium Development Goal was declared by DG Kofi Annan. Although enrollment increased, quality in education was missing in developing countries. The need is even greater now for a new and forward looking education agenda that completes the unfinished business, which once resulted in the declaration of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) 2005-2014.

The APREC meeting last Aug. 6-8 in Bangkok convened the delegation of Asia Pacific Ministers of Education together with UNESCO Paris Assistant DG Qian Tung, Thai Director Gwang–Jo Kim, Japan Minister of Education Director Yoshiaki Sato and UNICEF AP Regional Director Daniel Toole. Already initiated in Oman, Muscat, seven global education targets towards 2030 were developed with greater emphasis on gender equity and the most marginalized. Five of which are: 1.) All girls and boys will complete free and compulsory quality basic education of at least nine years and achieve relevant learning outcomes, including one year of free and compulsory pre-primary education; 2.) All youths and at least a great number of adults reach a proficiency level in literacy and numeracy sufficient to fully participate in society; 3.) Majority of young people and adults have the knowledge and skills for decent work and life through technical and vocational education and training; 4.) Every government ensures that all learners are taught by qualified, professionally trained, motivated and well supported teachers; 5.) All countries allocate at least 4-6 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or at least 15-20 percent of their public expenditure to education.

My report on this matter, “The Final Push: Education for all beyond 2015,”  was front-paged last August 13 in the Philippine STAR. The following day I wrote further details in my August 14 Thursday column Point of Awareness, “The Unfinished Agenda of EFA-DESD 1990-2015 Goals.” By August 15 Asian Development Bank president Takahiko Nakao’s interview “ADB: Inclusive Growth, Better Infrastructure Needed” was front-paged in the Philippine STAR. Nakao, former Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs before assuming the top ADB post in April last year, drew up the eight-point development agenda after visiting 17 developing countries that are members of the bank. His visits were to encourage governments to ensure “robust, inclusive and sustainable growth” in Asia Pacific. He hoped that by pursuing this agenda, the Philippines would regain its status as one of Asia’s most prosperous economies.

Waiting for graduation from ADB lending program

STAR’s Ana Marie “Amy” Pamintuan gave the details of this interview in her column Sketches.

She wrote that in 1965, Manila was chosen as the headquarters of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Those who participated in the selection of the site were representatives from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ceylon, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, South Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand and Western Samoa. Several of these economies have since “graduated” from ADB lending programs, notably South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore.

Today, the Philippines is the fifth largest borrower of the ADB after India, China, Pakistan and Indonesia. China and India, however, are next only to Japan and the United States as the biggest contributors to the ADB, whose capital as of end – 2013 stood at $162.8 billion.

Mr. Nakao recalled – the Philippines at the time of the banks founding, was one of Asia’s top economies, second only to Japan in terms of development. Until the 1950s, he pointed out, per capita GDP in the Philippines was higher than in South Korea. Today, our per capita GDP – $2,790 as of last year – is behind Thailand’s $5,674, and Indonesia’s $3,510, and a long way from Korea’s enviable $24,329 and Japan’s $38,491. What did the others do right?

Insights into the success of ADB graduates

Nakao gave insights into the success of ADB “graduates,” such as South Korea, whose recovery from its bloody civil war 60 years ago has been remarkable. Nakao observes, “They had a very clear view of what kind of country they wanted to build. The Koreans invested heavily in infrastructure, reached out to their former colonizer Japan, and pursued a clear shift from an agricultural economy to an industrial one. It helped that the country had a highly educated civil service, and Koreans had a ‘shared vision’ of where they wanted to go.”

Nakao did not say it, but Amy Pamintuan made it clear that a shared vision is what has been lacking in the Philippines. Instead, each Filipino seems to be pursuing his vision of what he wants – mainly for himself, his family, and in the case of the politicians, the party. All interests are narrow and personal. The late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin often lamented that it’s every man for himself in this country – always kanya-kanya!

Ms. Pamintuan noted, “I must stress that the ADB president is bullish about Philippine development prospects, especially with the reforms initiated under the Aquino Administration. “Many people now believe the choice of Manila (as the home for ADB) was excellent. The country has a wealth of talented assets, the cost of living is lower than in Tokyo, and it’s better for a bank like the ADB to be based in a developing country,” stated Nakao.

 His “Going Back to Basics” agenda calls for policies to promote macroeconomic stability investments in infrastructure and human capital, open trade and investment regimes, sound governance, inclusive growth, security and political stability, and a “well articulated development strategy.”

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