Press Release
May 21, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara called on government to invest more substantially in education, beginning with providing tuition subsidy for students, akin to the current subsidy program for the country's tricycle drivers.

Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, suggested channeling bigger subsidies into the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Schools program or GASTPE.

"Twenty years ago we already anticipated the need for financial aid for those in private schools. This was why we created GASTPE, which was originally a Php600 Million subsidy for their tuition," he said.

"There may be spending in roads and bridges but nothing to develop the bodies and minds of our children. And that is why, competitive of countries, the Philippines ranks very low in terms of competitiveness," said Angara.

Angara added, "the Philippines at this point, has one of the lowest per head investment in education. We are the lowest in the ASEAN. Even Laos, which used to be a very impoverished country, is spending more to educate their kids, than the Philippines now."

Angara filed a resolution to create a Congressional Oversight Committee on Education which is mandated to review and assess the performance of bodies in charge of taking care of the country's educational system.

Angara said that data shows an alarming decline in our educational system, citing that an almost 100% enrollment rate in 1990 was down to 85% in 2008, almost 25% of enrollees dropped out before the 5th grade, and in the same year out-of school children between the ages of 6-11 breached the 1 million mark.

"Our educational system has to adjust to modern technology and the challenges of the new century. We have to give our youth the tools they need to be able to maintain a high level of competitiveness in the global arena," said Angara.

Both the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology, and Engineering (COMSTE) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) have also set recommendations in order to modernize the educational system and keep up with international standards, noted Angara.

PPPs to help fill classroom gap

Angara added that Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) can potentially help in filling the perennial gap in classrooms and school buildings.

"Contractors who are willing to build public classrooms and are willing to wait to be paid , they can leverage the annual appropriation of 2 billion, 4 billion and then beat out the construction of 20,000 classrooms," he added.

Angara also said that, "The other way is use the many NGOs who are into building. Like the Phil-Chinese chamber. They build about 300 classrooms and they can double that, triple that provided that there is a counterpart in the government. So you have to think of ways like that to build more classrooms and to tap more resources outside public resources."

Angara is a former University of the Philippines (UP) President and the Chair of the Senate Committee on Education.

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