Vast improvements noted in PGMA’s education highway

June 11, 2010 8:28 pm 

MANILA, June 11 — The Philippine Main Education Highway (PMEH) crafted in 2009 by the Presidential Task Force for Education (PTFE), a multisectoral body created by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, has reported improvements in participation rate of school children at the elementary, secondary and tertiary levels, retaining them in school and in making them finish high school and pursue higher skills and learning.

Studies and reports presented at the 2010 Philippine Education Congress held Friday morning at the Manila Hotel, where President Arroyo listened, showed the improved education profile, particularly from the terminal report of the PTFE chairman Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, SJ.

Nebres said the goal of the PMEH was to fulfill the dream of every Filipino family to have their children educated, have a productive and well paying job and a good future.

For school year 2010-2011, there has been an actual participation rate (the ratio between enrolment in school age range of six to 11 for elementary and 12 to 15 for high school to total population of the age range) of 85.12 percent (as against target of 90 percent) at the elementary level and of 60.74 percent (as against target of 70 percent) for high school.

Of the 2.032 million 5-year olds in 2001-2002, the enrolment in public and private preschool was only at 671,258. In 2008-2009, of the total of 2.379 million, nearly half the five-year old population were enrolled.

This improvement was due to the mapping of day care centers in areas with lowest performance in the National Achievement Test (NAT), identifying early childhood care and development (ECCD) standards and competencies and providing appropriate training to day-care workers; training of 685 day care workers from 78 school divisions in 17 regions in the country, and evaluating and selecting instructional and learning materials for pre-school education.

The PMEH’s vision is to assure every Filipino child the opportunity to get high quality education that will make him/her a whole person, a responsible citizen that will lead him/her to a productive, well paying job or to a successful entrepreneurial venture, Nebres said.

Of immediate concern to the task force are: the high dropout rate in elementary and high school and the great number who do not finish these levels; the low academic performance in elementary and high school; and the number of college graduates who can’t find jobs while many jobs are in search of qualified applicants.

For basic education, the goals of PMEH are:

— To get all children to school by improving the participation rate;

— To keep children in school by improving retention rate;

— Getting all children to finish elementary by improving completion rate and achieving the millennium development goal from primary education;

— Increasing graduation from high school by improving high school completion rate; and

— Improving achievement by increasing the scores in the Grade 6 NAT, the 2nd year high school NAT, and the 4th year National Career Assessment Examination which includes academic, technical and entrepreneurial sections.

For post secondary education, the goals are:

— Improving the match and linkage between post secondary education and training (technical and academic) and the needs of industry and entrepreneurship by building stable structures to link them and increasing international competitiveness of Philippine education and industry by benchmarking towards international recognition of Philippine professional and academic degrees and technical qualifications.

In terms of retaining the children and making them finish elementary, the Department of Education noted that from the Grade 1 population in 1999-2000 of 2.678 million, those that stayed until 4th year in 2008-2009 reached 1.310 million.

Hence, about 700,000 children are unable to compete in elementary and 1.36 million do not complete secondary education.

To address this concern, the PTFE identified the need to:

— Expand feeding programs and

— Work with schools and LGUs on anti truancy and other ways to keep children in school.

In particular, the PTFE highlighted the importance of working with national government, local government units (LGUs), and the private sector to expand the reach for of food for school programs. In 2004, the food for school program reached 48,000 which rose abruptly to 2.009 million in 2009. This gave rise to decline in below normal nutrition status of pupils of from 29.60 percent of population in 2001-2002 to 16.27 percent in 2007-2008.

The PTFE also cited the need to pursue best practices that have been identified in working with schools and LGUs to keep the children in school. These practices include: the anti-truancy system set up by various LGUs, food for school programs, home visitations by teachers and stronger school-home programs.

The school, the LGUs and the parents must be engaged in setting goals that can keep children in school using some of the best practices that have been identified in certain divisions or districts, Nebres added. (PNA)

RMA/OPS/ssc

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