Press Release
January 20, 2010


Liberal Party President Senator Mar Roxas today vowed to put an end to the short-sighted and bankrupt approach of the government in basic education and to put in place omnibus education reforms.

He lamented the recent findings of the United Nations in its 2010 "Education For All" Global Monitoring Report, which said that the Philippines is trailing Tanzania and Zambia in education outcomes, and is in "real danger" of missing its target of providing universal primary education by 2015.

"Kasalanan ito ng 'tingi-tingi' policy ng kasalukuyang gobyerno pagdating sa edukasyon (This is due to the current government's 'piecemeal policy' on education)," he said.

He stressed that government invests so little in basic education: only about 2% of GDP, which is less than half of the global norm. "At lahat ng ito, lumubog na lang sa buhangin dahil sa malawakang katiwalian at sa mga patakarang napaglipasan na ng panahon (This little investment is just put to waste because of large-scale corruption and backward policies)."

"Sa Mindanao lang, may mga batang marunong magkalas ng M-16, pero ni hindi pa nakakahawak ng lapis (In Mindanao, some children know how to pick apart M-16s, and yet have never held a pencil in their lives)," he said, noting that the UN report claimed that children in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao and some outlying islands have been most left out.

The senator emphasized that the Aquino-Roxas platform for 2010 seeks to uplift education from being "just one of many concerns, to making education the central strategy for investing in our people, reducing poverty and building national competitiveness."

"Wala na ngang makain ngayon. Pag hindi natin inayos ito, pati bukas walang makakain ang mga anak natin (Our people are hungry now. If we don't reform this, our children will continue to go hungry tomorrow)," he stressed.

"Education is a building blocks system. Kaya magsimula tayo sa Grade 1 at ibuhos ang ating atensyon at resources hanggang sa maayos ito sa loob ng isang taon. Pagkatapos, Grade 2 naman. Hanggang sa maayos natin ang Elementarya sa loob ng anim na taon (Let's start by putting all our attention and resources in improving outcomes in Grade 1 within one year. Then Grade 2, until we fix Elementary Education in a span of six years)," he stressed.

Roxas is advocating for Omnibus Education Reforms through Senate Bill No. 2294 which seeks to strengthen the education system to meet world standards and to improve education outcomes within ten years.

The proposed reforms in the bill include:

1. Institutionalizing long-term planning through rolling five-year budget plans that are consistent with quantitative and qualitative targets;

2. Mandating the use of the mother tongue as medium of instruction for Grades 1 to 3 (studies have shown that early education in the local language tends to be more effective);

3. A genuine School-Feeding Program for Grade 1 and 2 students in the poorest provinces and municipalities that is free of corruption;

4. Imposition of performance standards through diagnostic tests at the end of Grades 3 and 6 to identify individuals who will require special learning assistance as they proceed to the next grade level;

5. Considering an increase in the years spent in basic education, from 10 to 12 as consistent with global standards (The two other countries who still have a 10-year basic education system are Morocco and Nigeria );

6. Instituting a two-track system in High School, with electives to equip them with the competencies needed as they decide to pursue College or to join the workforce right after graduation;

7. Intensive training and upgrading programs for teachers: a training program on teaching methods using the mother language for teachers in Grades 1 to 3; and upgrading courses for English, Science and Math teachers who are not majors in these subjects; and

8. A compulsory pre-school education year.

The bill seeks an additional P19 billion on top of the regular budget of the Department of Education for it to implement these reforms.

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