Spend more, not less, on youth education, BBM urges Congress

8 October 2021

EDUCATION is the key to producing world-class professionals and technical workers required by an emerging economy struggling to shake off the crippling effects of the 2019 coronavirus disease pandemic.   

Thus, with the need to spur the country’s economic recovery amid the onslaught of the Covid pandemic, Partido Federal ng Pilipinas standard-bearer Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. urged Congress to invest more in youth education by restoring the budget cuts in next year’s allocation for education.

“Kailangan natin ng mga eksperto, mga responsive, innovative, at globally competitive citizens para madaling makabangon ang bansa natin sa pagkalugmok dahil sa pandemiya. At magiging dalubhasa ang mga mamamayan by getting a college degree,” he pointed out.

Marcos said tertiary education equips the youth for the challenges of adult life as it trains them to think critically, participate in constructive conversations, communicate effectively, and exercise problem-solving. He added education could also be a tool for the poor to rise from poverty.

“Without sufficient budget, how can the learning institutions like universities and colleges provide a good education? How can CHED, the very agency that administers and regulates them, carry out its mandate properly? Ang malulugi ay ang mga estudyante. Paano mabibigyan ng scholarship ‘yung mga mahihirap na gustong makapag-kolehiyo?” he stressed. 

The Department of Budget and Management slash the proposed budget of SUCs by almost P15-billion while the P62.3 billion budget submitted by CHED was reduced to only P52.6 billion on the recommendation of the DBM or a slash of P9.6 billion.

The presidential aspirant also called on Congress to approve the P37-billion additional budget sought by the Department of Education for laptops and Internet service allowance to assist teachers as the country implements distance learning for the second year.

DepEd is proposed to receive P629.8 billion next year, an increase of 6.01% from this year’s P594.11 billion. However, while P11.31 billion is allotted for the agency’s computerization program, which is a 99.83-percent increase from this year’s P5.66-billion, funds are still insufficient to cover all teachers nationwide.   

“Habang hindi pa tayo bumabalik sa face-to-face classes, dapat maibigay ang mga pangangailangan ng mga guro para makapgturo sila ng maayos under the blended learning system para hindi maisakripisyo ang kalidad ng ating edukasyon,” Marcos said.                     

Both education and development experts have called for more engineers, urban planners, and agriculturists to address the thinning corps of professional and technical experts in these critical fields.

Construction is one of the strongest growth engines of the Philippine economy. Pre-pandemic, the sector grew at an annual average of 10.3 percent from 2015-2019. 

It is also the highest per-unit investment generator of direct and indirect employment, producing close to 4,000 jobs per P1-B investment, with deep backward linkages as the key client to over 60 industry sectors, such as non-metallic mineral products and the manufacture of iron, steel, rubber, and plastics.

Meanwhile, agricultural output contracted by an annual 1.5 percent in the second quarter due to a slump in livestock and fisheries production, the Philippine Statistics Authority said.

“Decreases in the production levels were noted for livestock and fisheries. Meanwhile, production of crops and poultry posted increases during the period,” PSA said.

However, the agriculture sector led the rise in employment growth last August after a rise of around 1.9 million, a turnaround from losing 1.8 million jobs in the previous month.

The inter-agency Development Budget Coordinating Committee has revised downward the economic growth assumption for this year to a range of four percent to five percent, taking into account the impact of the latest lockdown to contain the spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant.