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State of the Philippine Education

The latest report by the National Statistical Coordination Board, recognizing that one in six
school-age-children is deprived of education, tells us of what is in store in our country’s future.

The enrollment rate in our primary school five years ago, was 90 percent. Last year, it dropped to
83 percent, and the number is rising. The situation is worse for secondary education, where
enrollment rate has been steady at only 59 percent over the same period.

Unfortunately, this has been going on in decades. Past government administrations are equally
guilty of negligence to check the increasing numbers of illiterate Filipinos. Illiteracy to me,
means the difficulty of a person to read and write, and even if he or she can read or write, the
comprehension is low and have difficulty following simple written instructions. Education has
been in the backburner and no serious effort was made to make it a major strategy for our
progress.

Education has a dramatic effect on economic development and growth. In fact, other countries
are starting to realize how drop-out rates affect to their economies. In the Philippines, nobody
knows the extent of its effect.

It appears that we lost sight of the implications of this issue, because there is no statistical data to
show how much was lost in terms of peso value due to school drop-outs and illiteracy. What I am
saying is that, it is not only lost opportunity to get better income, but the government also lost tax
revenues from a productive and competitive population.

School non-completion affects so many things. It increases criminal activity, and adds to cost of
prison and welfare services. By simply following a simple linear cause and effect analysis, they
have lower lifetime earnings, which reduces buying power, lowers tax revenues for governments
and reduces economic growth. When you extend your analysis, it results to decreased health
status, more criminal activity, higher rates of teen pregnancy and single motherhood. Wherever
you look at it, just higher costs all around.

Aside from those stated, the education system has direct effect on future economic growth. A
major consideration of a business to invest in a country or in a community, is the economic
impact data. Part of this data is the education achievement of the community, along with items
such as transportation and workforce development. With the present condition, we can’t hardly
make the first cut because companies will see they don’t have a pipeline to supply them with the
workforce they need.

We can no longer deny that the manufacturing sector cannot sustain the rising need for
employment, and high-tech jobs are coming on. It is expected that majority of the jobs created
over the next 10 years will be high-tech. How can this country compete if many of our
population didn’t even finish elementary school?

We are already seeing economic development pass us. The issue at hand should not only be
viewed from the perspective of children dropping-out of school and the inability of their parents
to find better jobs. It is about lost opportunities - lost lifetime earnings of those who were
deprived of education, lost revenues for the government, and lost opportunity for this country to
catch-up with our already developed neighbors.

We need not fight over it now. The government should take the lead, to bring all the players to
the table and define a strategic education plan. Other sectors are waiting. I am sure the business
leaders are hungry to know what they can specifically do to help.

For comments, e-mail to roldanaelx@yahoo.com