MANILA – Government support for the public educational system has been declining and this is manifested by the severe shortages besetting the sector, according to independent think-tank IBON Foundation.
The 2006 budget of the Department of Education (DepEd), expressed in real terms (2000=100) has fallen by almost 6% from 2001 allocations. This means that, based on school year (SY) 2005-2006 enrolment figures, each public school student is allocated a share of only P5,082 of the DepEd budget, down 11% from P5,726 in 2001.
Declining allocations for education are reflected in the severe shortages of teachers and teaching materiel that have crippled the public education system.
The shortage of teachers reached 49,699 in SY 2005-2006, a 31% increase from the 37,932 recorded in SY 2001-2002. Over the same period, the shortage of classrooms grew by a whopping 586% from 8,443 in SY 2001-2002 to 57,930 in SY 2005-2006, and the lack of seats increased 65% from 2.11 million to 3.48 million. Meanwhile, in SY 2004-2005, the lack of textbooks reached 34.7 million.
The chronic lack of teachers and educational materials highlights the low priority government gives education. According to the law, the education sector should receive the highest share of the national government budget, but its allocations are dwarfed by the huge amounts government shells out for debt servicing.
In fiscal year 2006, for example, education, culture and manpower development was allocated P131.2 billion in the national budget. But debt service of both the principal and interest of the country’s debts was allotted a total of P784.43 billion or almost six times the total budget for education.
Lack of government resources has resulted in falling participation and completion rates. 5.7 million children (1.8 million in the elementary level and 3.9 million in the secondary level) are not enrolled in school. Further, for every 10 Grade 1 students enrolled, 3 will not finish elementary and four will not finish high school.
The lack of adequate government resources for education compromises the future of the country’s children, 14 million of whom are already considered poor. (Ibon)