Education, Health & Social Welfare Priorities

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

While here in the UK, I'm thinking how cabinet members in a parliamentary form of government act with an abiding sense of rectitude and urgency, or they could be ousted like the lame duck Boris Johnson. At home, with the vice president as our Dep-Ed secretary, there is much hope for education to maintain its top priority in budget, logistics, and government attention. With the pandemic still unresolved with finality, the health sector shouldn't be far behind. And with Secretary Erwin Tulfo at the helm of the DSWD, we can expect an unprecedented sense of client-orientation and a compelling sense of urgency. Otherwise, "baka ma-Tulfo si Erwin,” according to his brothers.

On education, the British priorities are: Student first, teachers second, core curriculum third, teaching materials fourth, buildings fifth, administrators sixth, and research and development seventh. On health, the UK focuses on preventive healthcare rather than reactive medicine. Thus we propose to whoever becomes our Health secretary, first, focus on prevention; second, revamp or abolish PhilHealth and create a new agency with less or no corruption and with better patient-orientation; third, upgrade the public health institutions, including regional, provincial, and city medical centers; fourth, enhance the curriculum of courses in medicine and allied professional disciplines; and fifth, focus on herbal and other indigenous, affordable medicines; sixth, focus on the prices of medicines and the professional costs of medical procedures and medical bills of private hospitals and specialist medical practitioners; and seventh, upgrade all barangay health centers.

On social welfare, services and development, I offer unsolicited suggestions. First focus on out-of-school minors who are roaming around city and town streets; second, round up all “grasa” people, beggars, street urchins, and minors selling wares along public thoroughfares and sidestreets; third, build more centers to house and develop wayward youths; fourth, coordinate with Malasakit Centers for assistance to sick indigents; fifth, provide fare assistance to probinsyanas and probinsyanos who are stranded in the cities; sixth, improve quality of assistance in times of calamities and disasters, and seventh; strengthen linkages with civic organizations like the Rotary, Jaycees, and church-based organizations so as to integrate all welfare assistance in times of emergencies.

In education, the be-all and end-all should be the molding of our young peoples' competence and character. Education should be holistic and should be linked with the nature of personalities, inclinations, aptitudes, and attitudes of the children. The teachers should be given all the support in logistics, gadgets, materials, training, and supervision, adequately and timely so as they can optimize their teaching competencies and produce excellent results. The Education secretary may have to take a long and hard look at the existing curricula and benchmark them with global standards with the goal of making our human capital globally competitive. We need to focus on math, language, and rational thinking. The quality of textbooks should be upgraded, and the school buildings should be improved as well. We should stop this practice of using schools as evacuation centers.

Health services should focus on preventing diseases, improving the health of citizens through proper nutrition, and physical exercise, sports, and active living. The Health Secretary should review procurement of medicines and other related products, equipment and facilities. There should not be a repeat of the Pharmally controversy. Welfare Secretary Erwin Tulfo is now in the position to deliver the quality and speed of services he used to pressure agencies to provide. Ineptitude, being unapproachable, lack of client orientation should now be a thing of the past under this government. Let us see if the new DSWD secretary can implement what he used to demand from public servants. In a third-world country like ours, education, public health, and social welfare are the three main anchors for social development.

We are expecting much from this administration. They have promised much, they should deliver more. Here in the UK, if you don't deliver, the House of Commons will declare your position vacant. If the queen sees you as corrupt, inept or incompetent, the House shall withdraw confidence in you, and you wake up no longer the prime minister or minister. They do it fast here. Perhaps that is why they are a first-world country while we remained third-world for more than a century. We are too slow and, worse, never seem to learn.


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