NOTING with alarm how the Covid-19 pandemic has spawned an education crisis, presidential frontrunner Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. wants to expand and strengthen the government’s programs for out-of-school-youth (OSY) to give them a fighting chance to become productive and responsible citizens of their respective communities.
Marcos was reacting to data released by the Department of Education (DepEd), showing there are currently more than 4 million OSY in the country, “and it is important to address this problem immediately.”
“We need to focus attention on this problem. It’s alarming that an increasing number of our youth are unable to go to school, and because of the Covid-19 pandemic the numbers of out of school youth have swollen even more,” the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) standard-bearer said.
Marcos, who has kept an unprecedented margin over all rivals in all pre-election surveys on voter preference in the presidential race, said that his education agenda includes strengthening the Free College Tuition Fee Act, and funding the stalled Commission on Higher Education Scholarship program.
He also looks at construction of specialized colleges and universities, which will greatly help students and young people who want to study and go to college for free without having to go far from their areas.
He also plans to increase the number of programs that offer free online courses in different schools.
The objective is for the OSY to learn new skills that would help them land better jobs, which in the process would help them return to school and finish their schooling.
He likewise lauded the government’s Alternative Learning System (ALS) and the vocational courses offered by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority as these allow young people to learn various courses that they can use in applying for work.
“Well, we have Alternative Learning System that greatly helps the OSY, those who want to complete their elementary and high school studies; and there’s TESDA which has truly been of help to them,” Marcos said.
The former senator also pointed out the need to strengthen online courses for them to not just have certificates but also diplomas, and also provide them with more training and seminars.
As strict mobility protocols are being eased with the steady decline in Covid infections, he suggested that seminars be conducted as well to impart on the youth the value of education and let them know the programs and privileges available to them, he added.