MANILA, FEBRUARY 3, 2010 (STAR) A POINT OF AWARENESS By Preciosa S. Soliven - The 2010 Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report, the annual EFA rating of each UNESCO Member State conducted by an independent team of UNESCO experts, stated that the Philippines trails the Republic of Tanzania and Zambia in education.

Media must realize that actually it is not only the Department of Education (DepEd) which is responsible for this “stagnation”, but all government agencies, who make up the National EFA Committee (NEC) legislated in 1992 to achieve the goals of EFA, now directed towards “education for sustainable development.” The NEC is made up of all agencies of the Philippine government.

It was timely that CHED Commissioner Dr. Nona Ricafort, also the Education Vice Chair of the UNESCO Philippine NatCom, facilitated a consultation meeting of 12 government agencies and non-government organizations for the SEA-CLLSD (Southeast Asian Center for Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Development) to discuss their own departmental vision of what the center should be to serve the country and the Southeast Asian countries. The participants represented the Departments of Health (DOH), Science and Technology (DOST), Agriculture (DA), National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCAA), Office of Muslim Affairs (OMA), E-Net, SEAMEO-INNOTECH, and OB Montessori Child and Community Foundation – most of whom are members of the NEC.

2009 progress on the 6 EFA goals

According to the EFA Global Monitoring Report 2009, there has been remarkable progress towards some of the EFA goals since the international community made its commitments in Dakar in 2000. However, more attention has to be paid to the quality of education and learning achievements.

GOAL 1 – EARLY CHILDHOOD CARE AND EDUCATION. Child malnutrition is a global epidemic that affects one in three children under the age of 5 and undermines their ability to learn. Slow progress in tackling child malnutrition and ill health is undermining progress towards universal primary education. The development targets set in the Millennium Development Goals will be missed by wide margins if current trends continue.

Major global disparities in provision continue to divide the world’s richest and poorest children. In 2006, pre-primary gross enrolment ratios averaged 79% in developing countries.

This element concerns the responsibilities of DILG, DSWD and DOH.

GOAL 2 – UNIVERSAL PRIMARY EDUCATION (UPE). Sub-Saharan Africa raised its average net enrolment ratio from 54% to 70% between 1999 and 2006, an annual increase six times greater than during the decade before Dakar. In 2006, some 75 million children, 55% girls, were not in school, almost half in sub-Saharan Africa. On current trends, some 29 million children will still be out of school by 2015. Children from poor households, rural areas, slums and other disadvantaged groups face major obstacles in access to a good quality education.

Harmonious cooperation between DepEd, DILG and CHED’s teacher training institutions can overcome this major problem for the Philippines.

GOAL 3 – MEETING THE LIFELONG NEEDS OF YOUTH AND ADULTS. Governments are not giving priority to youth and adult learning needs in their education policies. Meeting the lifelong needs of youth and adults needs stronger political commitment and more public funding. It will also require more clearly defined concepts and better data for effective monitoring.

GOAL 4 – ADULT LITERACY. An estimated 776 million adults or 16% of the world’s adult population lack basic literacy skills. About two-thirds are women. Between 1985-1994 and 2000-2006, the global adult literacy rate increased from 76% to 84%.

Close collaboration of DepEd’s Bureau of Secondary Education and Bureau of Alternative Learning System with TESDA is badly needed for Goals 3 and 4 to be achieved. CLLSD also recommends the establishment of a Mothercraft Pagsasarili Literacy House in each municipality where both mother and child can learn a higher standard of daily household activities.

GOAL 5 – GENDER. In 2006, at the primary level, about two-thirds of countries had achieved gender parity. In the Philippine rural primary schools, girls miss learning since they are made to look after their younger siblings or help in the house chores.

Only 37% of countries worldwide had achieved gender parity at the secondary level. There is a confirmed trend towards more female than male enrolments in tertiary education worldwide.

GOAL 6 – QUALITY. Within countries, inequality exists between regions, communities, schools and classrooms. These disparities have important implications not just in education, but for the wider distribution of opportunities in society.

The Philippine SEA-CLLSD uses a unique teacher training LLSD laboratory with its ESD curriculum. It has provided sufficient evidence in the past 25 years of re-engineering traditional education so that preschoolers have undergone behavioral changes and have acquired third grade competencies. A total of 150 Pagsasarili preschools all over Luzon are exhibiting these phenomena of love for work, order and self-confidence.

Financing education

Low-income countries are still spending significantly less on education than other countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, 11 out of the 21 low income countries with data spend less than 4% of their GNP. In South Asia, several high-population countries continue to spend under or only just over 3% of their GNP on education. This appears to reflect low political commitment to education.

Commitments to basic education are stagnating. In 2006, for developing countries, they amounted to US$5.1 billion, a little below the 2004 level. Half of all commitments to basic education came from just a handful of donors. Total aid for basic education for low-income countries in 2006 was US$3.8 billion. The amount will have to be tripled to reach the estimated US$11 billion required annually to finance a narrow range of goals in low-income countries.

Top policy recommendations meeting the EFA goals

Early childhood care and education. Strengthen the links between education planning and child health provisions. Prioritize early childhood education and care in planning for all children, with incentives provided to include those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. Strengthen wider anti-poverty commitments by using innovative social welfare programs which target poor households.

Universal primary education. Fix ambitious long-term goals supported by realistic planning and sufficient medium- to long-term budgetary allocations to ensure progress in access, participation and completion in primary education. Support equity for girls, disadvantaged groups and underserved regions by setting clear targets for reducing disparities, backed by practical strategies for achieving more equitable outcomes. Raise quality while expanding access by focusing on smooth progression though school and better learning outcomes, and strengthening teacher training and support.

Education quality. Strengthen policy commitments to quality education and create effective learning environments for all students, including adequate facilities, well-trained teachers, relevant curricula and clearly identified learning outcomes. A focus on teachers and learning should be at the heart of this commitment. Ensure that all children attending primary school for at least four to five years acquire the basic literacy and numeracy skills that they need to develop their potential. Develop the capacity to measure, monitor and assess education quality, in areas that affect learning conditions. Participate in comparative regional and international learning assessments and translate lessons learned into national policy, and develop national assessments that best reflect each country’s particular needs and goals.

Filipinos must transcend individual interests to uplift the nation

After May 2010, a new president will lead the nation. Let us hope that the new National Plan of Action will unify our educational, social, scientific, communication and cultural concerns to meet the UN Millennium Development Goal of economic independence, peace and prosperity.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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