Press Release
October 15, 2006

Education woes worries Drilon; DepEd records show
only 14 out of 100 students graduate college

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Franklin Drilon expressed alarm over the poor state of the country's public education system, noting that records from the Department of Education (DepEd) indicated that only 14 out of 100 Filipinos who go to school are able to graduate from college every year.

Saying that the Philippines was "alarmingly education-poor," Drilon noted that the public school system was suffering currently from a shortage of 30,906 classrooms, 30.6 million textbooks, 16,390 teachers, and 26,282 principals.

This, he said, prompted the Senate Finance Committee to recommend an increase in the the budget of the DepEd by P2.5 billion from its proposed P134.7-billion appropriation recommended by the Department of Budget and Management for 2007.

During Senate committee scrutiny of the proposed 2007 DepEd budget last week, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus revealed that for every 100 pupils who entered grade 1, only 66 made it to grade 6, 58 to first year high school, 43 to fourth year high school, 23 to first year college, and only 14 graduate from college.

Upon questioning by Drilon, Lapus also revealed that 200,000 or eight percent of all six-year-olds don't enter the formal school system at all. By grade six, a third of the 2.6 million pupils who entered grade 1 shall have dropped out, Lapus said.

"That's more than 800,000. With the 200,000 who never get into the country's school system, that's a million young people every year," Drilon said.

The senator said the sad state of Philippine education was reflected not just in the quantity but also in the quality of its graduates. Citing DepEd statistics, Drilon said most grade 6 pupils have the competencies of those in grade 4. "Only 20 percent of grade 6 have the competencies of grade 6," he said.

"We are asking the President and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to increase the DepEd budget by P2.5 billion even if it will mean allowing the deficit for 2007 to reach P65.5 billion from P63 billion. This will not have any adverse effect on our fiscal position because we have to address decisively the deficiencies in our education sector," Drilon said.

Drilon noted that prior to 2006, the increases in the budget of the DepEd was only on the average, P3 billion a year. In 2006, the increase was P9 billion. In 2007, the increase will be P12 billion, he noted.

"However, under a ten-year budget study by the World Bank and the DepEd, for 2006 and 2007, the proposed increase should be at least P26 billion. For 2006 and 2007, the budget submitted by Malacañang would increase the budget of the Department of Education by only P21 billion. Therefore, there is still a deficiency of about P5 billion," Drilon said.

Drilon said DepEd needs at least P2.5 billion to partially address many of its concerns.

"For example, we need to hire 16,390 teachers more in 2007. The budget is only for 10,000 teachers. We need 16,390. This will cost P720 million more. Let us be decisive and fund the need for additional teachers," Drilon said.

At the same time, Drilon also bared he would push for the realignment of President Arroyo's P650-million intelligence funds to DepEd to partially cover the pressing need of hiring more teachers for public schools.

"Rather than an allocation of P650 million for intelligence funds of the President, I am examining closely realigning P650 million in intelligence funds of the President to fund the funding needs of 16,390 new teachers that we need rather than non-productive intelligence budget of P650 million, which is accounted for through a closed envelope system," Drilon told reporters after the committee hearing on the P134.7 billion DepEd budget for next year.

To address the malnutrition problem of the country's school-age children, Drilon said the Senate specified that the P4-billion school-feeding program be spent on milk and noodles rather than rice.

He said the original program, which provides for the purchase of imported rice for distribution to the pupils, only benefited the farmers of Thailand and Vietnam and the National Food Authority officers who get commissions from the sale.

Drilon also stressed the need to address next year's classroom gap of about 6,000 classrooms. "Only about P2.7 billion is allocated for classrooms. We should put in more money for the classroom. But at the same time, we should economize and look at the costing of the DepEd," Drilon said.

Drilon explained that the DepEd has allocate P450,000 per classroom, exactly double the amount that he have indicated in the supplemental budget for similar school rooms being done by the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. which is committed to build classrooms at P225,000 under the supplemental budget.

"Therefore if we follow this costing, wherein the ratio is one classroom for every 45 pupils, which is the ratio for DepEd and the same ratio for the FFCCCII, we would be able to double the number of classrooms that we can build," Drilon explained.

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