Things seem to be looking up for the country's education sector. As classes open for the current schoolyear and free college education greets state college and university students, the Department of Education (DepEd) gains the highest performance rating in the latest Pulse Asia Ulat ng Bayan Survey.
The awareness and performance survey was conducted between March 23 and 28, with a sample size of 1,200 respondents from the National Capital Region (NCR), Balance Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, and with a ± 3 margin of error. The DepEd’s year-on-year approval rating – 83% in March 2017 and 84% March 2018 – has reached the highest levels since 2005 and significantly gained traction since the Education chief introduced several reforms.The current rating constitutes high performance approval of DepEd across areas, gender, and socio-economic class.
“This is definitely a notable result; it means that our efforts to deliver our mandate for the learners, teachers, and stakeholders are paying off. It means that quality basic education is reaching more learners, in and outside formal school, is becoming more relevant to their aspirations, and is improving their chances at better opportunities in life,” Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said.
Part of Secretary Briones’s agenda is to ensure that out-of-school children and youth (OSCY), as well as adult lifelong learners, are brought back into the fold of education. Since the Secretary assumed office, the Department has intensified its efforts to provide them with better access to quality basic education.
The Philippine Statistic Authority’s (PSA) Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) describes OSCY as “family members six to 14 years old who are not attending formal school; and family members 15 to 24 years old who are currently out of school, not gainfully employed, and have not finished college or post-secondary course.”
The 2017 APIS yielded that of the estimated 39.2 million Filipinos six to 24 years old, 9% or 3.6 million were OSCY – a reduction from the 10% OSCY among 39 million Filipinos aged six to 24 as registered by the 2016 APIS.
In the 2016 APIS, high cost of education/financial concern ranked second at 20.2% as a reason for the OSCY’s non-attendance of school. In the 2017 APIS, financial difficulty dropped to third place and the number of OSCY citing it as a reason for being out of school declined to 17.9%.
“We have pushed for the full implementation of the K to 12 Basic Education Program and with it are programs that will ensure inclusiveness. We have Balik-Aral for returning learners, and we have the Senior High School (SHS) that equips basic education learners with further knowledge and skills needed for competency in the 21st century,” the Education chief stated.
The Secretary further noted that with the SHS Voucher Program (SHS VP) and Education Service Contracting (ESC), more learners are able to pursue basic education in private schools despite difficulty in finances: “More than subsidies, these programs reflect the government’s commitment to helping ensure that more Filipino children have access to quality education, have the capacity to stay in school, and have equal chances at improving their lives and contributing to the development of the country.”