THE right to education imposes an obligation upon all stakeholders to ensure that each child has the opportunity to meet their basic learning needs. When world leaders met at the World Education Forum in April 2000, they could not ignore the poor progress and the dismal state of education in the developing world.

More than 100 million children were out of school. Years of structural adjustment and lack of funding had decimated public education systems in many developing countries.

More than a decade later, remarkable progress was observed toward achieving the education-related Millennium Development Goals. Many more girls are in school and enrolment rates are on the rise, due to higher-quality aid and to political commitment. But 72M children are still out of school, and it is becoming clear that the world’s poorest countries urgently need an initiative that can deliver the resources to scale up to Education For All (EFA).

In the country, there seems to be a lower probability of achieving this goal as seen in the trend in education indicators. Net enrolment ratio in primary education as well as the proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach grade 6 are far below their targets.

In terms of resource allocation and performance indicators, it is falling behind Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam in terms of resource allocation and performance indicators.

According to the National Competitiveness Council (NCC), Philippines is ranked 99 in terms of primary education, 69th in the educational system, and 112th in science and math.

Acknowledging the intrinsic value of education, as well as its powerful impact on economic growth, social development and political stability, the EFA goals, among others, underline the need for a deliberate plan of action to step up on education such as ensuring that all children, in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete, free and compulsory primary education of good quality and that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programmes.

Only through a concerted action will transform these goals into reality.

Efforts are underway to step up and improve the quality of plans to scale up basic education. Yet big challenges remain.

Getting children enrolled in school is not enough; they must complete the cycle and demonstrate achievement, such as basic literacy and numeracy skills. Thousands, if not millions, of children currently complete primary school without these fundamentals.

If things are to improve, the serious deficit on the number of teachers will have to be addressed. In order to get all children into primary school, the Department of Education estimates the need for 10.3 million additional teachers to be trained and hired.

Beyond primary education, the wider EFA goals such as early childhood education, gender parity and adult literacy require urgent attention. In spite of strong evidence that educating girls delivers powerful economic and public health benefits, girls’ enrolment has continued to lag behind that of boys.

As many households are unable to feed their children and there is higher probability for children to be pulled out of school to work to engage in other income-generating activities, local movers will have to be swift in addressing the number of children, mostly girls who may be disproportionately pushed into child labor as a result of the crisis.

The challenges and stakes are high.

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