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Privatizing basic education

A few days ago, Department of Education Secretary Armin Luistro proposed a concept for private-run public schools under private-public partnership (PPP) for education wherein running and funding schools will be left to “corporate foundations, nongovernment organizations and civil society.”

This sell-out proposal is dangerous for the basic and secondary education. It will spell further abandonment of the government’s responsibility to fund education. It seems the trend is to privatize basic and secondary education, which will mean higher tuition rates.

The constitution mandates that the government provide free and qualtiy education for all. Article XIV, Section 1 of the constitution says:

The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all.

Section 2 also states that the State shall “establish and maintain a system of free public education in the elementary and high school levels.”

Turning this responsibility over to the private sector and refusing to provide sufficient funding for education for its people is a violation of the constitution and a grave ‘criminal’ offense against the people’s right to education.

Sadly, this kind of thinking is consistent with the elitist framework of the Aquino government towards providing education and other social services. The sell-out reflect the policies of the Aquino government are geared towards privatization of social services, which will lead to increase in rates, making these further inaccessible to the majority who are poor. The government is doing the same thing for hospitals, SUCs, mass transit, and other social services.

The Aquino government should instead provide sufficient budgetary allocation to education and social services. The P238.8 billion budget of DepEd for 2012 is grossly inadequate to fill-up the needs of basic education, especially considering that they want to implement additional years. The amount is P300 million short to fund the shortages in education and to comply with the recommendation of the United Nations which is 6% of the GDP.

According to data by Kabataan Partylist, computing the real per capita value of government spending on basic and secondary education will reveal that the government is only allotting P6.68 per Filipino per day for education. A budget of this amount will not even be enough to buy chalk.

This year, for instance, the government intends to spend P1.9 billion on ‘universal kinder.’ Upon computation, P18 billion is needed to fund new teaching positions for the 2.3 million expected kinder enrollees. The government aims to get 13,000 new teaching positions when the shortage is 103,000. About 15,000 new classrooms will be built to cover 152,000 in shortage. This illustrates clearly the lack of funding and prioritization for education.

We should call for the rechannelling of funds from debt, military, pork barrel and CCT to the education sector and oppose further abandonment of government responsibility to fund  the education of its people.

Youth organizations and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers are planning protest actions in Congress this week, to call for the increase in “chalk allowance” of teachers and the budget for education. Teachers are calling for a“national chalk holiday” on September 16. The state universities and colleges nationwide, meanwhile are expected to hold strikes on Sept 19-23 to protest budget cuts and low spending for education.

We ought to support the fight for the right to education, greater budget for schools and counter government plans to sell-out education and make it further inaccessible to the poor.



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