Neoliberal policies deepen school opening woes in PH

Jun. 05, 2018

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — As long as the neoliberal policies are obstinately adopted by the government, particularly by the Department of Education (DepED), the year-to-year woes confronted by parents, teachers, and administrators during the opening of classes will persist.

And the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is not exempted on these griefs as the DepEd, under his supervision remains beholden to such neoliberal policies.

This was the analysis presented by militant youth group Anakbayan in a statement on Monday in time with the opening of classes for the school year 2018-2019.

Looking into the difficult situations of students, Anakbayan said they will once again face the dismal shortage of classrooms, chairs, textbooks, and teachers.

With the DepEd’s neoliberal and anti-people policies under Duterte, Anakbayan said families of students will continue to face assaults brought about by the increase of tuition fees in over 500 private schools in the country.

The increase in school fees is beside the fact that cost of school supplies also skyrocketed due to the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

“The government’s rhetoric of ‘change is coming’ clearly changes for the worse. The DepEd has admitted that over 600 public schools are not ready for the start of classes, meaning they face serious shortages in classrooms, chairs, toilets, teachers, electricity, and water, but classes are still unfortunately required to commence,” Anakbayan secretary-general Einstein Recedes said.

It is obvious, he added, that DepEd is either inefficient or ineffective in creating an environment for conducive learning, or that DepEd leadership simply does not care if students learn anything.

Earlier, the ACT Teachers party-list in the House also castigated DepEd and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for their failure to address the shortage of teachers and school support staff by creating enough teaching and non-teaching positions and ensuring their immediate hiring.

Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro said the country still lacks some 5,858 teachers as the approved 2018 budget of the department only created around 75,242 new teaching positions for this year.

No new Special Education teaching positions were also created as the proposed 1,944 items for such positions were not granted, the two solons added.

Anakbayan also cited the low budget allocation for education under the Duterte administration, saying that from 2017 to 2018, DepEd’s budget is only 1.72 percent, from P543 billion to P552 billion.

The meager boost to DepEd’s budget, the group added, also failed to allocate funds for the increase of the wages of public school teachers.

Recedes also panned over DepEd’s continuing subsidy of the more than 500 private schools despite their increases in tuition fees.

Anakbayan said the persistent subsidy to private schools now becomes the custom of “funneling public money into the pockets of private capitalist-educators.”

“Over P26 billion of the DepEd’s 2018 budget is allocated towards direct subsidies of private schools under the Education Service Contracting (ESC) Scheme and the Senior High School Voucher Program (SHS-VP). Instead of spending this money towards improving the quality of public education, DepEd chooses to pay private school owners while packaging it as a subsidy for public school students,” the group averred.

The subsidy program also contributes to the increasing number of school dropouts as students and their families are made to believe that the ESC and SHS-VP would cover the full cost of private education.

In reality, Recedes said, the programs require students to pay additional “top-up fees” that force them to drop out especially at the middle of each school year due to their inability to pay.

Such scheme manifests the state’s abandonment of duty in providing education and figurative of Duterte administration’s adherence to neoliberal policies towards social services.

A goose egg program

Anakbayan also scored to continuing failure of DepEd’s K-12 program and the burdens it lobs to the shoulders of parents.

“The DepEd is forced to eat its own promises of decent jobs in the face of the program’s failure. They promised students and their families that by implementing the K-12 program, graduates would be employable without needing further tertiary education, but employers and industry experts themselves have insisted that they are not keen in accepting K-12 graduates for work,” the group asserted.

Instead, K-12 has turned out to be an extra two-year burden for parents for additional fees, supplies, and allowances, Anakbayan said.

DepEd could have focused, in K-12’s place, the improvement on the access to quality education by ensuring that students have sufficient classrooms, textbooks, and equipment and increase the number and salary of teachers

“As another school year opens, it is clear that woes in the education sector still persists, and it will linger as long as the Duterte government continue to subscribe to the neoliberal education framework of neglecting its responsibility to provide free, accessible, and quality education at all levels, while allowing the private sector to turn students and their families as cash-cows to rake millions in profit,” Anakbayan said. (

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