August 17, 2005 
(STAR) By Sandy Araneta - Fewer than one percent of Filipino students are high school and college material, according to a non-government agency.

Lack of resources and poor management have placed the Philippine educational system in distress, as only 0.6 percent of primary school graduates are ready for high school and only a slightly greater number of high school graduates are ready for college, a non-government organization said.

In a statement sent to media yesterday, KAAKBAY Citizens’ Development Initiatives (KAAKBAY CDI) said only six out of every 1,000 grade six elementary graduates are prepared to enter high school, and only two out of every 100 fourth year high school students are fit to enter college.

KAAKBAY CDI also disclosed that only 19 out of every 100 public school teachers have are competent to teach English.

The Philippines, it said, ranked No. 41 in Science and No. 42 in Mathematics in a recent study among 45 countries.

"The Philippine public education (system) is in distress. The quality of Philippine education is declining continuously. Elementary and high schools are failing to teach the competence the average citizen needs to become responsible, productive and self-fulfilling," KAAKBAY CDI said.

The teacher-student ratio was hardly encouraging, with only one in every eight schools reporting a teacher-to-pupil ratio of 1:50 and above.

The group said one in every seven students lacks a classroom. They also said one in every five students does not have a desk.

They also revealed that one in every three students does not have a single textbook, and two out of eight students share a single set of textbooks.

KAABAY CDI said the principal reasons for this decline are a lack of investment in the education system and a poorly managed education establishment.

The worst affected by the declines in Philippine public education are the rural areas and the countryside, the NGO said.

"Education has always been viewed as an avenue to a better quality of life. It provides equal opportunities to the rich and poor alike. As such, the development and provision of education should always be discussed and viewed within the context of poverty alleviation," they said.

Poverty in the Philippines has reached a point where education is no longer a right for all, but a privilege for a few. "If it is a way for a better life, it is one that is narrow and difficult to tread," they said.

Education as a way to equalize opportunities has become a myth, the group said, because while the rich have a variety of choices offered by private institutions, the poor have to make do with a public education system characterized by dilapidated school facilities, lack of materials and textbooks, and technological incompetence.

A limited budget and a high investment demand on social services have forced the Philippine government to spread its resources too thin, the group said.

It also pointed out the government is not investing enough on public education to provide a meaningful impact on the educational system and the lives of citizens.

"It is for this reason that NGOs and other stakeholders have to take on the gargantuan task of bringing quality education directly to the poorest areas and the poorest people in the country and share this responsibility with the government," they said.

Every child has an inherent right to quality education and to deny a child equal access to quality education is to deny his or her future, they added.

Education, being the most powerful instrument in poverty alleviation and economic advancement, needs to be accessible to every child.

The limitations of the government, wealth and borders must not hinder the task of providing quality education to an incoming generation, the group said.

"Social mobilization must be done if we still hope to see some genuine upgrading in the academic performance of the Filipino students. It is imperative that the community’s resource holders — whether individual or private businesses — realize that education is too complex an issue to be left to the government alone," they said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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