Big budget allocation to Education

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By Benjie R. Pangan

At Close Range

Thursday, January 30, 2014


IT IS but right and proper that the Education sector be given the biggest budget allocation as education plays a crucial role in economic development.

But it never is enough as the sector needs more each year and so increases in its budget are expected and widely anticipated.

Already, the education sector commands a P309.43 billion budget for this year and it still is lacking. Verily, there is a need to increase it every year as so many needs arise: construction, repair and rehabilitation of school buildings nationwide.

And as Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad says: A considerable portion of the 2014 budget will help ensure the continued improvement of our public education system. Last year, we were successful in narrowing down most of our educational requirement gaps and we're even more determined now to address the remaining deficiencies completely.

It is not enough, no matter how the budget secretary assures us. Statistics shows that the school population outruns the government's efforts to fill the gap.

Not even the expanded Conditional Cash Transfer Program can adequately close the gap although Abad claims that a total of 4.3 million student beneficiaries will be "sufficiently covered to allow to graduate from high school". A tall order this is.

The education targets for the year include the procurement of additional textbooks and workbooks to attain the ideal 1:1 student per textbook ratio. In support of the K-12 program, an appropriation of P1.7 billion has likewise been set aside for the procurement of over 42 million learning modules and teaching guides (Data from the Manila Bulletin, January 28, 2014).

Nice sounding plans for the education sector, but how many of these plans are achieved or implemented?

The budget chief announced the creation of around 34,700 new teaching and non-teaching positions to bring about an ideal teacher-to-pupil ratio to 1:45, or one teacher in a class of 45. No wonder, shifting of classes is being done to accommodate more pupils which, at present scenario, 80-90 are crammed in a classroom, thereby the quality of instruction is sacrificed.

* * *

There should be a grand celebration on Saturday, February 1, as the Ms. Mabalacat City 2014 activities unfold with master impressario Jun Magbalot at the helm. The Caragan Festival is on the dock and Jun aims to muster some 30,000 people in attendance. Welcome to glory and enjoyment: only in Mabalacat City!

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 31, 2014.

Opinion

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