2010 education budget not enough—Kabataan solon

QUEZON CITY, Sept 24, 2009—The government spends too little for education.

“The 2010 budget allotted for education is only big in number but has a very little value,” says Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino in a statement sent to CBCPNews.

The 29-year-old solon said Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s P159.28 billion (US$3,351,499,103.34 based on the current exchange rate of $1:47.50) budget for education only translates a measly P6.00 per student, not enough even to pay the student’s one-way fare.

P6.00 per student, totally an injustice

This is preposterous. Six pesos for a student is an injustice,” Palatino said.

He explained, next year’s [education] budget is insufficient to address the education sector’s chronic problem of shortages: Class rooms remained overcrowded, teachers inadequate, and seats and textbooks either lacking or in dire need of repair or corrections.

“The year 2010 is a critical year for education especially since it marks the final stretch of the Education for All (EFA) by 2015 World Declaration,” the lawmaker said.

He also explained that the P1.07 billion increment, which the government is boasting of, is already earmarked for the increase in teachers’ salary due to the passage of the Salary Standardization Law III.

The SSL III gives a P6,000 increase to the public teachers’ basic pay, which according to the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) is not enough. ACT members criticized the pay-in-trenches scheme in implementing the said P6,000 increase and said they still press for the P9,000-hike on the teachers’ salaries.

Moreover, the proposed 2010 budget for DepEd is only 2.8 percent of the country’s GDP (gross domestic product), lower than what prescribed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which is six percent.

Education ‘crises’ aggravated by corruption

The young solon furthered the education sector suffers from crisis due to government non-prioritization of and poor spending on education and is even aggravated by rampant graft and corruption.

“DepEd’s (Department of Education) distribution of erroneous textbooks, questionable bidding processes, and overpriced procurements have took up a huge bulk of the agency’s meager budget last year at the expense of our students,” he said.

Flawed solutions to the problem

The young solon also criticized the way that the government confronts problems besetting the education sector.

“The government continues to prescribe flawed solutions to address these shortages. For instance, the DepEd’s recent move to shorten classes to four or five ‘learning’ hours will only worsen the already poor quality of basic education,” says the party-list solon.

The young solon, meanwhile, said that he would continue to lobby for a higher budget for the DepEd; but the agency must clarify first the corruption issues involving the agency.

“We want to ensure that the DepEd’s funds would really go to students and the improvement of the basic education sector.”