A strong human resource base is critical to attaining high productivity and economic progress for all. Thus, the Philippine government, through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), crafted a national budget for fiscal year 2017 that embodies the Duterte administration’s pledge to bring real change to the Philippines through quality education for all, regardless of age, gender, and faith, and to the most remote barrios of the country.
A budget that places the Filipino people at its core, the P543.2 billion funding for the Department of Education (DepEd), which will benefit 21.2 million learners all over the country, is the biggest allocation among all the executive departments. This is an increase of 25 percent from 2016.
Basic Education: Responding to the Real Needs of People Now
The shortage crisis on teachers and non-teaching staff is seen as a major cause of the declining quality of Philippine education in thousands of public elementary and high schools. To address this problem, the 2017 budget allocates an amount of P19.4 billion, allowing DepEd to open 53,831 teaching positions and 13,280 non-teaching positions all over the country. This will allow us to meet the suggested parameters in class size and respective student-to-teacher ratios for different grade levels.
Furthermore, DepEd is provided with P118.8 billion to swiftly construct, repair, and purchase basic educational facilities, including 47,492 classroom and 66,492 sets of school seats for K-12, accommodating 2 million students who have endured classes in makeshift or overcrowded classrooms.
The 2017 budget has also reserved an amount of P14.4 billion for the purpose of obtaining learning resources, specifically 55 million textbooks and instructional materials, and science and mathematics equipment for 5,449 schools.
Partnerships will also be forged with private institutions in the delivery of quality basic education. The Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) is granted P35.8 billion to benefit 2.6 million grantees. The bulk of the amount will go to the Voucher Program for Private Senior High Schools, while the rest of the funds will support Education Service Contracting for those in Junior High School, and Technical-Vocational and Livelihood Specializations.
These measures will promote DepEd’s objectives of widening access to basic education and increasing the quality of learning for school-aged children. The huge investment of resources will put more Filipino children to school. In 2017, Kindergarten and Elementary Net Enrollment Rates are targeted to jump from 53% to 72% and 90% to 94%, respectively. Better implementation of the K-12 Program will also increase Junior High School Net Enrollment Rates from 68% to 73% (GAA 2017 Volume II, p. 24).
Addressing the constraints of the basic educational system will also allow more students to stay in school. The cohort survival rate is targeted to increase from 88% to 93% for Elementary students and from 81% to 82% for Junior High School students (GAA Volume II, p. 24).
Consistent with the Duterte Administration’s emphasis on developing our most important resource – our people – basic education has been granted its rightful allocation. Combined with implementation reforms by the Department of Education, realizing universal basic education for all Filipinos is closer to reality.