MALACAÑANG, August 19, 2005 (OFFICE OF THE PRESS  SECRETARY) Saying education is the biggest single investment the government must make, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stressed today that her administration is determined to improve the education curricula, particularly technical training in vocational schools.

Speaking at the National Export Congress at the Dusit Hotel Nikko in Makati City this afternoon, the President likewise cited the importance of maintaining and enhancing the Filipinos’ competitive advantage in English proficiency.

"We cannot be – and maybe, shouldn’t be, the low-cost provider of labor in the world, but we can be the best-priced English-speaking nation in the world, and we cannot let that advantage slip," she said.

The President reiterated what she said in her recent State-of-the- Nation Address that although it is every Filipino’s dream to have a college education, what are actually needed are VocTech graduates.

"So therefore, we have put in a system, a ladderized education system, so that VocTech units can be credited for a college education. Then you will have your skilled manpower and the families will have their great Filipino dream," she said.

The Chief Executive said that one of the reasons for the reforms in education is to strengthen Math, Science, and English.

To do this, she said, additional compensation for teachers would now be based on an incentive basis wherein teachers who take up more studies in the three subjects will get more pay under the scheme.

"That way," the President said," we will improve education in this area."

PGMA vows not to pass on to next generation of Filipinos RP's debt burden

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo vowed today to end the government’s decades-old debt burden during her term of office and not pass it on to the next generation of Filipinos.

The current budget mess and economic woes go back to decades ago when administration after administration went on borrowing binges, thus pushing the country deeper into the debt trap, the President said in her address before the National Export Congress at the Dusit Hotel Nikko in Makati City this afternoon.

The theme of the congress was "One Nation Through Exports."

"Young people today are condemned for actions of another generation. And I will not pass on our debts to a new generation of Filipinos," the President said to the applause of her audience.

She lauded Congress for the passage of her priority revenue measures, pointing out that the tax legislation "is the cornerstone of our economic recovery plan."

"It is morally and economically correct," the President said.

Underscoring the far-reaching benefits of new revenues, she said "they allow our nation to invest in social welfare. They allow our nation to build the vital infrastructure you need to create new jobs for the next generation of Filipinos."

Without new revenues, "we will lag behind the region and the world," the President said.

She said revenue generation is an investment that’s long overdue. "To do anything less than forge ahead and make the investments we need in the nation would be a major setback for our country."

"People who oppose new revenues oppose moving the nation forward and creating one united and modern Philippines," she said.

The President said the world is now caught in the throes of an unprecedented oil price increase, as she underlined the impact of the price crunch on the Filipinos.

"The rise in oil prices is a global problem that’s affecting consumers in developed and developing countries alike. Of course, that reality provides little comfort for those here in the Philippines faced by these global challenges in their homes and villages," she said.

She added that the government may have to undertake drastic steps that may be needed to prevent the worst case scenario of the oil crisis and "we will continue to need public understanding and cooperation."

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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