UN standard: Makabayan solon tells admin to invest 6% of GDP to education

At a glance

  • Following the United Nations (UN) standard for education sector budgeting will help address the problem of classroom shortage in the Philippines, says Makabayan solon ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro.

  • (Photo from MANILA BULLETIN)

Allocate the equivalent of at least 6 percent of the Philippines' gross domestic product (GDP) to education.

This, according to House Deputy Minority leader and ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro, will help the Marcos administration address the severe classroom backlog and learning crisis that's plaguing the country.

With a classroom backlog of more than 165,000 at the end of 2022, the Department of Education (DepEd) is looking at other funding sources outside the national budget to fill up the severe gap affecting millions of public school students.

"While the initiative of donors both private and foreign are welcome the Marcos-Duterte (Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.-Sara Duterte) administration must not rely on these and make it their strategy to beg for donations for our children because it is one of the government's primary duty to fund the education of Filipino children," Castro said.

"As it is, since 2010 to 2019, the government has only been spending amounts equating from 2.2 percent to 3.6 percent of the [GDP] to education, according to the Philippine Institute for Domestic Studies," she noted.

The Makabayan lawmaker said the United Nations (UN) standard for education budgeting is 6 percent of the GDP.

"For 2023, the total budget for all education agencies only amounts to 3.6 percent of the GDP, with the DepEd’s budget equivalent to only 3 percent of the GDP," she said. The 2023 national budget for the entire bureaucracy is P5.268 trillion.

"Sa ganyang pagbabadyet ay magtataka pa ba tayo kung bakit kulang ang mga classrooms, kulang ang sahod ng mga guro at naglalagpakan ang mga grado ng mga mag-aaral? (With that kind of budgeting, are we still perplexed why there's a shortage of classrooms, teachers' pay isn't enough, and the grades of pupils are plummeting?)" asked the militant congresswoman.

Castro said her proposal is already indicated in House Bill (HB) No.1783 or the "Education as Priority in the National Appropriations (EDNA) Act". The measure was filed back in July 2022, or at the start of the 19th Congress.

"I hope that the Marcos-Duterte admistration would heed our call in behalf of the education sector to increase the budget for education to 6 percent of the GDP and support HB No. 1783, to address the classroom backlogs and substantially increase the salaries of our teachers. It is only by doing this can we effectively solve the learning crisis," she insisted.

Duterte is the concurrent vice president and DepEd secretary.