Less education for poor in RP
UNESCO: Less education for poor in RP
MANILA, Philippines—Governments around the world, including the Philippines, are depriving children of basic literacy and numeracy skills because they have failed to address “deep and persistent” inequalities in education.The warning was issued by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as it launched on Nov. 25 its 2009 global monitoring report on Education for All, “Overcoming Inequality: Why Governance Matters.”
The report said many countries were way off target in their goal of achieving universal primary education, one of six internationally agreed upon goals that countries like the Philippines pledged to meet by 2015.
“If the world’s governments are serious about Education for All, they must get more serious about tackling inequality,” UNESCO said. It noted that inequalities in education arose from, among others, income, gender, location, ethnicity, language and disability.
Adopted in 2000 in Dakar, Senegal, the six Education for All (EFA) goals are:
• Expanded early childhood care and education.
• Free and compulsory primary education for all.
• Learning and life skills for young people and adults.
• Increase in adult literacy by 50 percent.
• Gender parity by 2005 and gender equality by 2015.
• Improved quality of education.
The National Statistical Coordination Board declared in July that the Philippines was “far from achieving” EFA by 2015 because of what it noted was the consistent drop in the net enrollment ratio or participation rate at the elementary level from school year 2002-03 to school year 2006-07.
The latest UNESCO report listed the Philippines as among the countries where the inequalities in education “mirror” income inequalities.
Poor get less education
Filipino children in the poorest 20 percent receive 5 years less education than children from the wealthiest families, UNESCO said. On the average, the poorest 20 percent have 6.3 years of education compared with the 11 years of education of the richest 20 percent.
Citing a 2007 report of the Asian Development Bank, the report also noted the widening wage gap in the Philippines between those with college education and those without.
UNESCO described the Philippines as among the 21 countries with “high enrollment, low survival.” Its partial projections show that of at least 29 million children who will still be out of school in 2015, more than 900,000 will be Filipinos.
“For many of them, the share of out-of-school children from the poorest quintile is above 40 percent,” it said.
UNESCO said the relationship between household wealth and survival rates was “much more salient” in the upper grades in high school.
The UN agency has consistently noted that school-age boys in the Philippines are under-enrolled in both elementary and high schools, even more so in tertiary education, and that gender disparities have been “at the expense of boys.”
Its 2009 report relates gender disparity in the Philippines to poverty. Among the poor, girls far outnumber boys who are in high school.
Historically, boys have outperformed girls in mathematics in all grades of primary and secondary education the world over, but the picture has changed in the Philippines. Girls are outperforming boys in mathematics in elementary grade, according to UNESCO.
The agency raised concerns over the conditions of schools and the quality of education Filipino schoolchildren get. Many schools and classrooms are in a state of disrepair.
At least half of school heads say their “school needs complete rebuilding” or “some classrooms need major repairs,” the report said. At least one-third of students attend schools with insufficient toilets.
Distance and student well-being are equally serious problems. Teachers in the Philippines have reported one in every seven children walking more than 5 kilometers to attend school, according to UNESCO.
Schools also suffer an acute shortage of seating, and nearly half of students go to schools without libraries, according to the report.
UNESCO has found that village schools operate fewer days a year than town or city schools. Grade 4 teachers in village schools, for example, have reported teaching significantly fewer annual hours of mathematics and reading than teachers in city or town schools.
Poor morale and weak motivation also undermine teacher effectiveness. For example, fewer than a third of fourth graders had teachers who thought their pay was adequate, UNESCO said.
Earlier this year, the UN agency also said in its midterm review of the six EFA goals that the Philippines was “at risk” of not achieving the goals on adult literacy and gender parity.
Downside of decentralization
In 1991, the Philippines enacted the Local Government Code that transferred a number of functions, including the delivery of goods and services, from the national government to local governments.
In theory, decentralization is supposed to make systems more responsive to local needs and give the poor a greater voice. UNESCO found, however, that in the Philippines, financial decentralization “appears to have exacerbated inequalities, with wealthier regions better placed to mobilize resources.”
The Local Government Code allows local authorities to raise revenue for education through the Special Education Fund (SEF) tax on property.
UNESCO, however, noted that “spending per student from the SEF in the poorest municipalities with the lowest property values is only 13 percent of the levels in the richest municipalities and 3 percent of that in the richest cities.”
The report suggested a number of policies to remedy the inequalities in education, ranging from removal of school fees for basic education and increased public investment to a strengthened commitment to education quality.
It calculated that the financing gap for achieving basic education by 2015 globally is around $7 billion a year, and accused the donor community of a “collective failure” to deliver on aid commitments.
The Philippines devotes less than 3 percent of its gross national product to public spending on education, and has had to rely substantially on aid to finance basic education.
It is one of the largest recipients of loans from the World Bank, along with Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Bolivia and Venezuela. In 2006, the bank extended a $200-million loan as its National Program Support for Basic Education Project.