Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Thursday, March 17, 2005


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Senator Richard Gordon called for the nation to focus on revitalizing education or face the consequence of worsening poverty, given the shortage of about 55,000 classrooms and 49,000 teachers nationwide that has resulted in the declining quality of education in the country.

“We keep on talking about the education system in the country but there is a lack of focus and direction,” said Gordon. According to the Senator, the downward spiral of our educational system is an alarming concern which must take priority over the rest of the country’s problems. Reports from the Department of Education showed that in the High School Readiness Test (HSRT) for year 2004, the highest score registered was by students from Surigao del Norte who registered an average score of 87%. Furthermore, only 0.64% of incoming high school students obtained a mark of 75% or higher in the HSRT and the country ranks 43rd out of 45 countries in math and science proficiency.

Gordon disclosed that the quality of our teachers are not any better given that only 19% got a mark of 75% or higher in the English Proficiency Test for teachers. “This just shows the need to provide our teachers with training and further education. How can they teach their students if they themselves fail in their own exams?”

Aggravating the problem of teacher and student quality is the astonishing lack of resources which amounts to approximately 30 billion pesos; as of 2004, the country needs 36.6 million textbooks, 57,930 classrooms and 49,700 teachers. The teacher shortage has resulted in a ratio of one teacher per 75 students.

Gordon expressed an urgent need to raise additional revenue and it can be done through taxing text messages and utilizing the revenue that will be raised specifically as a special fund for education, as allowed by the constitution [Art. VI, Section 29. (3) All money collected on any tax levied for a special purpose shall be treated as a special fund and paid out for such purpose only. If the purpose for which a special fund was created has been fulfilled or abandoned, the balance, if any, shall be transferred to the general funds of the Government.]

The proposed law, to be known as the Education Revitalization Act will create a commission that will be tasked to control, manage, administer, and monitor the disbursement, use and allocation of funds generated through text financing. The levy, assessment and collection of the said tax will only be for five (5) years. After the specified period, the concerns regarding the shortage of classrooms, textbooks and teachers is expected to have been addressed.

“Aside from the educational infrastructures, part of the instructional reform will be a massive re-training program for the teachers,” added Gordon.
While a revenue measure is seen by most as an additional burden, Gordon emphasized the need for it “if the lives of the masses are to be uplifted and the country is to become globally competitive,” adding that “an educated public contributes to the long-term development of the nation because with highly skilled workers, more opportunities would be available.”

“The present trend is geared towards service-oriented industries such as the call centers, IT and health care. If we are not going to revitalize the education system now, we will not have skilled and quality workers that will attract investors in the country,” disclosed Gordon.
Participants of the League of Extraordinary and Admired People Congress coming from universities and colleges in Metro Manila, recently passed on signature sheets expressing support for Gordon’s proposal. Meanwhile, thousands of members of the nationwide organization, Philippine Youth Sphere (PYS), also expressed support for Gordon’s proposal.
During their recent national conference, PYS Executive Director Ian Barcelona said, “they may be young but they are willing to take bold steps to help the country prosper.” In Camarines Sur, hundreds of students and teachers of the youth oriented organization, Papica Leadership Foundation, also vowed to support the proposal. Atty. Francis Padua Papica, president of the said group, acknowledged that they support the idea because they know that they will be the one who will be directly benefited by it.


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