Tell it to SunStar: Efficient resource management on education over simply spending more

Tell it to SunStar
Tell it to SunStarSunStar file photo

By Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian

Chairperson, Senate committee on basic education

While an increase in education spending could help address the country’s education woes to a certain extent, improving the education sector’s performance requires more efficient management of resources.

A recent study conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies showed that underfunding in education contributes to the country’s low rankings in global education indices.

An example is Vietnam, a country that is in a similar phase as the Philippines in terms of economic development, but has better performance in the 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa). Vietnam’s average score (468) was way above the Philippines’ (353), based on 2022 Pisa results.

In terms of education spending as a proportion of gross domestic product, there is not much difference between the Philippines (3.8 percent) and Vietnam (4.06 percent). The Philippines spends an equivalent of around P55,000 on average per learner every year from Kindergarten until the age of 15. On the other hand, Vietnam spends P69,000 on average per learner every year from Kindergarten until the age of 15.

As what Vietnam demonstrated, success in education goes beyond financial investment. The real key lies in efficiency.

Even learners from Vietnam’s poorest households scored higher than the Philippines’ overall performance. Learners in the Philippines belonging to the bottom 10 percent of the Economic, Social, and Cultural Status distribution scored 336 on average, 91 points lower than the average score of Vietnam’s “poorest” 10 percent of learners, which was at 427.

While increasing resources for education spending could help our learners, it is equally important to ensure that we are efficiently spending the funds we allocate. We need to learn from our neighbors like Vietnam, where we have similar levels of education spending but learner performance far exceeds ours.

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