OUCH! That really hurts.

The 2010 Global Monitoring Report (GMR) cited the Philippines as a "particularly striking example of under-performance" in educational reforms as its current policies were failing to make a difference in improving the education of the poorest Filipinos.

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"Education indicators for the Philippines are below what might be expected for a country of its income level ... With an average income four times that of [African countries] Tanzania and Zambia, it has a lower net enrollment ratio," the report said.

"The unfavorable comparison does not end there. Whereas Tanzania and Zambia have steadily increasing net enrollment ratios, the Philippines has stagnated," it said.

"The net enrollment ratio was 92 percent in 2007, which is comparable with countries at far lower levels of average income, such as Zambia, and below the levels attained by other countries in the (East Asia) region, such as Indonesia," the GMR said.

The GMR is produced annually by an independent team of UN experts and is published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The report assesses the global progress toward the six Education for All goals to which over 160 countries committed themselves in 2000.

Wow, the Philippine government is underperforming its constitutional mandate to prioritize education. Budget allocation for education pales in comparison to debt repayment. In a sense, that's an example of failure of governance.

For all the hot air on economic development figures that were plastered in several national dailies recently, the GMR is a cause for concern that the country will miss on Millennium Development Goal No. 2, the 100 percent attainment of universal and free primary education, a fundamental human right.

There's more heart-rending items from the GMR.

"Given the country's starting point in 1999, achieving universal primary education by 2015 should have been a formality. There is now a real danger that, in the absence of decisive political leadership, the country will miss the goal," the report added.

Who among the presidential wannabes can guarantee the Filipinos to achieve its education target in 2015? So far no one has voiced out concerns. Will the national government negotiate for debt relief so that more resources can be used to achieve its MDG commitment on education?

Who suffers the most for the government's flunking its grades toward right fulfillment for the kids' education?

Of course, the poor, especially in Mindanao; a quarter of those entering school drop out before Grade 5. UP Professor María Socorro Diokno said that a child who reaches only grade 4 is doomed to a lifetime of poverty.

In 2007, the number of out-of-school youth aged 6 to 11 "broke through" the one-million mark and "there were over 100,000 more children out of school then than in 1999."

Clearly, compared with Tanzania and Zambia, the resources are out there for Filipino kids, except the government, which is failing to provide them the means to finish at least their primary education.

It could have attracted teachers to stay in the profession by providing them with higher salaries. Yet "the education system suffers from chronic shortages of teachers and classrooms, rising class sizes and low levels of learning achievement. Addressing these problems will require an increase in the 2.1 percent share of national income directed towards education in 2005-one of the lowest levels in the world," GMR added.

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