“A MIRROR of denials,” was how a sociologist described the eighth State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today.

In her hour-long speech, Arroyo made no mention of her accomplishments in the basic education sector, apart from a perfunctory line saying that elementary and high school education is free.

Read Arroyo’s speech.

But the 112-page 2008 SONA Technical Report of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) enumerated an impressive list of what Arroyo has supposedly achieved in the education sector, including those that date as far back as 2001.

The PMS figures, however, mock the real situation in the Philippine education sector.

In fact, in its mid-decade assessment of the Education For All (EFA) in 2007, the Department of Education (DepEd) itself admitted that based on basic education trends, “the progress has been slow and uneven and that the key targets will most likely be missed.”

As a result, the goal of achieving universal primary education by 2015 has now become “the most threatened goal among the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” according to Social Watch Philippines.

The PMS report claims that Arroyo has achieved so much: attained a 1:1 textbook to pupil ratio on the major subjects, “built 82,933 new classrooms since 2001,” and granted “computer access to 4,769 public high schools nationwide…or 100% of total high schools in the country, 29% of which have internet access.”

These claims could not paper over the fact that performance indicators in the education sector remain low.

For instance, participation rates are slipping and about 11.6 million school-age children are not in school. The net enrollment ratio has dropped. Also, nine million out-of-school youth and adults continue to wallow in illiteracy.

Survival rates are down as well. Out of every 10 Grade 1 pupils, only six finish elementary school, and only four of the six finish high school. Dropout rates have reached record levels in both elementary and secondary schools.

And while National Achievement Test (NAT) scores have generally improved from 2003 to 2007, these scores still fall below the passing grade of 75 percent.

The PMS Technical Report for Arroyo’s 2008 SONA asserts that the administration has “enhanced access to quality education” with the construction of 82,933 new classrooms over the last seven years, or beyond the yearly target of 6,000 new classrooms

The report states that the classroom backlog as of June 2008 stands at 12,418 classrooms.

According to PMS, the Arroyo administration has “attained and sustained” a 1:1 textbook to pupil ratio in Sibika/HeKaSi for Grades 1 to 6 students; Araling Panlipunan, Years 1 to 2, and English, for Grades 1 to 6 and Years 1 to 4 “since 2002, even with the increasing annual rates of enrollment.”

Too, it says that the government had “created a total of 53,026 new teacher positions/items from 2002 to 2007 to address the annual enrollment increase in public schools.”

Yet it is another government agency, the Commission on Audit, that has cast doubt on the integrity of these claims, particularly the assertion that 100 percent of high schools have access to computers.

COA reports in recent years have noted that the Computerization Program and the “PCs (Personal Computers) for Schools” project of the government have similarly failed in many respects.In 2007, information technology and multimedia equipment worth at least P667 million were distributed in schools across 13 regions of the country. The COA’s finding: the equipment were not used for classroom instructions, in part because some were defective.

At least 25 units of IT equipment worth P957,609 sent to Ifugao province, and 25 sets of computers worth P845,702 dispatched to Apayao province were listed by COA as not functional and not utilized due to lack of funds for repair.

In Batangas province, 18 computer units were defective and for lack of funds, could not be repaired, too. In Lipa City, 90 computers distributed to 15 national high schools remained idle; the school officials were unable to install the necessary programs.

In addition, the COA determined that at least P441.74 million worth of IT packages funded with Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), have not been used for classroom instructions for various reasons. These were found to be either defective, “unnecessarily stored, some of which were still in unopened boxes for six years,” or had been used instead for administrative purposes. In Region IX, the COA said the lack of effective IT training for teachers and students rendered the equipment useless.

In its 2007 report on the Millennium Development Goals, Social Watch Philippines said mismanagement and misplaced priorities of the government have led to inefficiency and decline in the state of the education in the country.

Despite all claims of progress by the PMS and Arroyo’s SONA, the Philippines today remains among the lowest performers in Asia in the education sector.

In its 2007 Global Monitoring Report, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ranked the Philippines 75th out of 125 countries in its compliance with the “Education for All” Development Index. The Philippines fared way behind Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Even more tragic, in the 2003 Trends in International Mathematics and
Science Study (TIMMS), the Philippines scored nearly at the bottom of the heap — 41st in Mathematics and 42nd in Science among 45 countries surveyed.

1 Response to SONA belies true state of education


SONA 2008 - the contents

July 29th, 2008 at 8:08 am

[…] SONA belies true state of education In her hour-long speech, Arroyo made no mention of her accomplishments in the basic education […]

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