LUCENA CITY,  July 22, 2004 (OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY, MALACANANG) Instead of requiring a fifth year in high school, the government will incorporate pre-school in the education ladder to encourage early childhood development.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced this today at the opening of the two-day 4th Annual National Convention of the Philippine Schools District Supervisors Association (PSDSA) at the Queen Margarette Hotel here.

"Education is not only about making our young people competitive in the global market. It's about providing Filipinos excellence in their work and building our nation around democratic and universal values. That is what a good education is," the President said. Among those who welcomed the President were Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Edilberto de Jesus, PSDSA president Estelita Reyes, and local officials led by Quezon Governor Wilfrido Enverga and City Mayor Ramon Talaga. To strengthen the implementation of the early childhood development program of the DepEd, the President said there should be coordination between the DepEd and local government units (LGUs) to transform the already devolved day-care centers into kindergarten schools.

The President said this could be done under a memorandum of understanding between the DepEd and the LGUs or through a legislation. Education improvement and youth opportunity are among the Presidentís five key packages on jobs creation and economic growth. The Chief Executive said youth welfare would also be prioritized through sustained government campaign against illegal drugs and gambling with the help of the parents and the community.

President Macapagal-Arroyo said she has allowed NGOs to conduct values formation in schools. Before her term ends in six years, the President said she wants to accomplish the computerization of elections so teachers could concentrate exclusively on education. Also to be accomplished, the President said, are the construction of at least 3,000 new classrooms every year, grant of vocational-technological scholarship for every poor family, providing all public high schools with computers and the strengthening of Math, Science and English subjects in the curriculum.

GMA vows to strengthen distance learning

LUCENA City--President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said here today she would ask Congress to pass a bill strengthening the distance learning systems to rationalize the distribution of teachers vis a vis the student population.

Speaking at the opening of the 4th Annual National Convention of Philippine Schools District Supervisors Association (PSDSA) here, the President noted that while some areas in the country have an excess of classroom teachers, others are wanting of educators. The Chief Executive traced the problem to the Magna Carta for teachers which prohibits the reassignment of teachers to another place without her/his consent. To make up for the inadequacy of teachers in certain places without violating the law, Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo said a possible option is to institutionalize distance learning through information technology (IT).

"The television can be an additional teacher, so that you can have learning from the main school in the poblacion to the barangay school through information technology," the President told the school supervisors. The President also took the opportunity to thank the teachers for their sacrifice and forbearance in "delivering credible elections."

"I hope that when I step down six years from now, the electoral process would have been completely computerized so that you, the educators of our country, can concentrate exclusively on education," the President said. "And I hope that when I step down six years from now, your work would be easier because everyone of school age will be in school, in an uncrowded classroom, in surroundings conducive to learning," Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo added.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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