OSY Will Not Just Sweep the Streets;They Need Education

25 08 2007

 Student Council Alliance of the Philippines was thoroughly aghast with what Ms. Arroyo had reportedly stated on the growing number of out of school youth in Inquirer’s last article of its three-part report on our country’s education crisis last August 22, 2007.

 Ms. Arroyo was beyond being candid when she said that the out of school youth should be given jobs in the streets instead of giving them a chance for a decent education through distant learning programs. It was utterly uncalled-for when recent data from DepEd shows that there are at least 5.5 million youth aged 6-15 years old who are not inside our schools.

 Last year alone, DepEd and CHED’s data revealed 14.6M young people who weren’t studying. SCAP does not outwardly endorse the “eskuela” program (the proposal which Ms. Arroyo has debunked) for we believe that such projects should be deliberated thoroughly before we even spend millions on it, we need to check if it can really resolve the immediate concerns of its target beneficiaries which are the out of school youth and the adult illiterates. 

 What is painstakingly incredulous in what Ms. Arroyo has declared is that even alternatives to our lagging education system are being thwarted because of her uneasiness towards budgetary concerns. SCAP has repeatedly criticized our government’s priority over the waging war in Mindanao where families get displaced; children are prevented from going to school; deaths in both the military and the insurgents’ side abound; and where innocent lives are inevitably affected if not snuffed; instead of allocating more funds on social services like education. Even the proposed Php29 billion increase in education budget this year is still highly insufficient to address the sector’s ailing system.

 Formal education in our country is even experiencing a greater decline on its quality, as more and more of our good teachers leave for greener pastures abroad. This is a trend which has been quite evident for years. We lack efficient facilities to provide competent learning programs for our youth. More and more state universities and colleges are resorting to commercializing university assets to remedy annual budget cuts, a proof of the State’s disregard on education. And still what we have in this country is a President who is seriously suggesting that we place our children in the streets instead of getting them out of there. With the onset of tuition increase in a number of schools last June, accessibility to alternative learning programs should be strengthened by the government.

We vehemently condemn Ms. Arroyo’s apparent neglect of the worsening education sector. We refuse to accept her insinuation of having our young people sweeping the streets instead of enjoying their basic right to education. Our neighboring countries obviously have invested much on what really counts; they pioneer breakthrough researches while we are still stuck on problems which should have been addressed 20 years ago. We are a nation that has prioritized debt servicing and militarization over education. And the result? We have been incurring foreign loans to fund educational materials, the latest of which was the text book scam which exposed anomalous bidding contracts for defective public school textbooks. Terribly ironic. What we need right now are efficient policy revisions not band aid solutions to the education sector’s predicament. 

SCAP perceives an empowered citizenry only through an empowered youth sector. At this point where majority of our population is comprised of young people, development can only be achieved through serious investments on our nation’s future. Inquirer’s reports on the Philippine education crisis only show the grave failure of our current and past governments to resolve this picric reality. Sen. Angara aptly put it right when he said “We’ve been sweeping it (education issue) under the rug for so long. We can’t do it any more.”  # 

Paula Bianca Lapuz

National Secretary General

Student Council Alliance of the Philippines      

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