The Constitution mandates that 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 quality education accessible to all, and shall also establish, maintain, and support a complete, adequate, and integrated system of education relevant to the needs of the people and society. (Sections 1 and 2, Article XIV, 1987 Constitution)
Likewise, the national policy expressed in Republic Act No. 9155 that, “Schools shall have a single aim of providing the best possible basic education for all learners” (Section 2, R.A. No. 9155), cannot be understated. The Act further appropriately defines “quality education” as, “the appropriateness, relevance and excellence of the education given to meet the needs and aspirations of an individual and society.” (Section 4 (k), R.A. No. 9155)
Pursuant to the constitutional and statutory mandates, the government should continuously improve and develop the quality of existing school systems in the country as to make them not only always attuned to the ever-rising global standards in the field of education, but also appropriate, relevant, and always excellent to meet the needs of the students.
However, this notwithstanding, the government should also acknowledge and address the obvious differences in the relative competencies of the students in the country. It cannot be disputed that in every competitive setting, whether in work, school, or play, there will always be some who distinctly stand out and perform better than the rest. This is all the more true in the school setting.
Thus, the government should adopt measures to address the prolific aptitude and satiate the high educational demands of the best-performing students in the country. The best-performing students need and deserve no less than the best of what our educational institutions have to offer. This proposed bill proposes to require government to train its sights on, and pour its resources more into, the best-performing public schools in country, and ultimately upgrade and develop them to become schools with specialized, high-level and first-class methods of instruction, equipment and facilities.
In pinpointing the best-performing schools in the country, data from the National Educational Testing and Research Center (NETRC) of the Department of Education (DepEd) may be credibly relied upon. The NETRC annually evaluates and assesses the overall performance of the students in their respective schools in the country. Aside from measuring the students’ individual aptitudes, the Center also is able to cull from these individual results the respective schools’ overall performance, through their Mean Percentage Scores (MPS) or, simply, the Achievement Rate.
Considering budgetary constraints, the government can prudently start the maiden school development program on a regional basis. Through data from the NETRC, the DepEd can already select and prioritize the worthy schools to be covered by this proposed bill by selecting the top-ranking school in each region.
For the same reason, the best students should likewise have access to best libraries. Hence, as a coordinate measure after identifying the schools to be developed, the existing public libraries, in this case the “Library Hubs”, which are being operated and managed by the DepEd, that are nearest and most physically and economically accessible to these schools by public transportation shall likewise be developed and upgraded into first-class public libraries.
Through Senate Bill No. 2532, or the bill proposing the enactment of the “First-Class Public Schools and Libraries Act”, the State will not only begin to address the special and high demands of the best students in the country, in the short term; it will also gradually improve and upgrade the over-all quality of the public school system and libraries in the country in the long term.