MDG2: Universal Education: Progress in the Philippines


Target 2.A:
Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling

2.1 Net enrolment ratio in primary education
2.2 Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach last grade of primary
2.3 Literacy rate of 15-24 year-olds, women and men

Pace of progress of the Philippines in terms of attaining the target
Targets and Indicators Pace of progress Probability of attaining the target
Target 2.A: Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling
Elementary education net enrolment rate .00 Low
Elementary education cohort survival rate 0.30 Low
Elementary education completion rate 0.29 Low
Based on the 2010 Philippines Progress report on the Millennium Developments Goals (MDGs)

     The figure shows shows that in SY 2002-2003, the NER or participation rate in primary or elementary education3, both public and private, of the school-age population 6 to 11 years was 90.29 percent. The most recent figure for SY 2005-2006 indicated a decline in the participation rate at 84.44 percent with a huge decline noted in the urban areas. By region, CALABARZON accounted for the highest NER of 92.87 percent, with the lowest in CARAGA at 74.8 percent.
     Cohort survival rate (CSR) at elementary level exhibited an erratic trend from 2000 to 2005 and was 69.9 percent as of 2005, indicating that the retention ability of schools calls for improvement. Meanwhile, dropout rates at the elementary level showed an increasing trend from 2001 to 2005. More learners dropped from the system but the number decreased as they reached higher grades.
      In terms of completion rate (CR) the trend tended to decrease from 2002 to 2005 and was 67.99 percent in 2005. The weak ability of the government to provide complete basic education services in more than 7,000 barangays in the country may be one of the reasons for the low completion rate in 2005. Of the 37,496 elementary schools established in 2005, some 7,766 or about 21 percent had incomplete grade-level offerings. Overall, the country is lagging behind in achieving the MDG target of achieving universal access to primary education as measured by NER, CSR and CR.
     There was less disparity across regions in terms of NER for both public and private schools in 2005, ranging from a high of 92.87 percent (CALABARZON) to a low of 74.8 percent (CARAGA). In terms of enrolment, there was almost parity between children in urban and rural areas but was slightly in favor of children in rural areas.
     With regard to CSR, there was wide disparity across regions, ranging from a high of 86.83 percent (Region 1) to a low of 36.2 percent (ARMM). The regional disparity in terms of completion rate was also wide during the same year ranging from a high of 85.48 percent (Region 1) to a low of 34.76 percent (ARMM). The ARMM showed a relatively high NER, but it ranked the lowest in terms of efficiency as shown by its low cohort survival and completion rates.
     In terms of efficiency of the elementary school system, more children in the rural areas were disadvantaged than in urban areas. Among the reasons for the urban-biased elementary completion rate are the high number of incomplete school buildings in rural/remote areas, much higher malnutrition rates and incidence of child labor in rural areas compared with the urban areas (in 2001 for example, 7 out of 10 working children in the 5-17 age group resided in the rural areas).
     It is interesting to note that participation rates in primary education by region is inversely correlated with the incidence rates for food and overall poverty. The regions with highest participation rates showed the lowest poverty incidence rates, namely, the NCR, Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and CALABARZON. Accordingly, these five regions had the highest cohort survival rates and lowest dropout rates. The observed correlations among these variables suggest that investment in primary education is promising for poverty reduction. The above correlations support the importance of adopting progressive approaches in fighting poverty and investing in primary education. Such an approach raises the likelihood of accelerating the realization of MDG targets. 

Development Challenges

     Progress is not sufficient for the Philippines to meet MDG 2 (Achieve Universal Primary Education). Primary school enrollments are high (84 per cent) and completion rates stand at 73 per cent, but insufficient investment in education (teaching and infrastructure) has negatively affected access to, and the quality of, education. 


In the last four years to 2010, Australia's aid program in the Philippines has achieved some major results:

Basic education

Education is the flagship sector of Australia's aid engagement in the Philippines. In partnership with the Philippines Department of Education (DepEd) Australia is supporting the Philippines to confront the considerable challenges in reforming the basic education system and in achieving improved education outcomes for millions of Filipino children.  Through projects like the Strengthening Implementation of Visayas Education (STRIVE) and the Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM), some six million children now enjoy significant improvements in both the quality of and access to education services. AusAID's basic education initiatives support the implementation of the Philippine Government's Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda. For example, AusAID's assistance to DepEd helps improve: teaching competencies; quality of and access to learning materials; and education management systems to improve DepEd's resource allocation and strengthen human resource management.
  • Around 33,000 schools (72 per cent of all schools) are in various stages of implementing school based management, many of which have been supported by AusAID through various initiatives. The SBM approach encourages community/parent involvement in planning for school improvements and helps school principals to mobilise resources to address local education priorities.
  • More than 54,000 teachers in English, Science and Mathematics in Regions XI, XII and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have been trained in alternative teaching and learning strategies and techniques to improve student performance.
  • 54,000 Filipino Muslim students now directly benefit from better access to responsive and culturally-appropriate schooling through the Arabic Language and Islamic Values (ALIVE) curriculum.
  • 5,000 indigenous children are taught in 71 schools in Mindanao according to the Indigenous Peoples Education Curriculum.
  • Over 35,000 children, parents and out-of-school youths from 253 remote and disadvantaged communities across Regions XI, XII and the ARMM are now actively participating in the formal and non-formal education system which include “School on the Air”, distance learning courses, community/tribal learning centres, functional literacy and livelihood classes.

Unesco fears universal primary education by 2015 unlikely in RP

   “While rich countries nurture their economic recovery, many poor countries face the imminent prospect of education reversals,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in a press statement. “We cannot afford to create a lost generation of children who have been deprived of their chance for an education that might lift them out of poverty.”
     In pre-primary education, the pupil-to-teacher ratio is 33 to one, a far cry from the region’s average of 21 to one, according to Unesco’s data.
     “Current policies are not breaking down inherited disadvantage due in part to low investment in education,” noted the report.
     The Philippines invests only 2.3 percent of its gross national product in education, compared with East Asia’s regional average of 3.6 percent.
     It has also experienced steep declines in aid to education. Total aid to basic education per primary school age child averaged only $4 in 2006-2007, data show.
     It is not just any economist who paints a sad future for the Philippines’ basic education programs. Solita “Winnie” Monsod, perhaps the country’s most popular economist, said that she believes that given the current situation, achieving universal primary education will be reached in 2074 – a little over half a century.
     The probability is from the baseline statistical data from 1991 for enrollment and graduation in basic education. This data is then compared with the more recent data, which in this case is the year 2008.
     The success rate is based on the percentage increase from 1991 and 2008, assuming statistics from population growth and inflation rate.
     Therefore, this pace points to the chances of achieving universal primary education at 2079. As Monsod sadly argued, “we’ll all be long since dead”.
     But Monsod does have a more positive outlook – albeit a very expensive one – for the Philippines to achieve its 2015 goals for the country’s basic education system.
     Based budgetary requirements, basic education allocation should be set at 381 billion pesos but that is only for the year 2012. The following years are just slightly cheaper: 307.9 billion pesos in 2013, 325.5 billion pesos for 2014, and 340 billion pesos for 2015.
     In comparison, the current budget appropriation for the DepEd in 2011 is pegged at 192 billion pesos. Just a little over half of what is needed for the MDG for basic education to be reached.
     Monsod said that she still believes that the education system needs reform and a lot of money to achieve its goals. She pointed to the media to help in making people realize the need to help each other in achieving these goals by encouraging the public to participate in discourse regarding the necessary changes in education and tax reforms.
     “If we have a properly informed public, we’ll do a lot more,” she said.

Quick Facts
* Enrolment in primary education in developing regions reached 89 per cent in 2008, up    from 83 per cent in 2000.
* The current pace of progress is insufficient to meet the target by 2015.
* About 69 million school-age children are not in school. Almost half of them (31 million) are in sub-Saharan Africa, and more than a quarter (18 million) are in Southern Asia.

     Despite great strides in many countries, the target is unlikely to be met. Enrolment in primary education has continued to rise, reaching 89 per cent in the developing world in 2008. Between 1999 and 2008, enrollment increased by 18 percentage points in sub-Saharan Africa, and by 11 and 8 percentage points in Southern Asia and Northern Africa, respectively. But the pace of progress is insufficient to ensure that, by 2015, all girls and boys complete a full course of primary schooling. To achieve the goal by the target date, all children at official entry age for primary schooling would have had to be attending classes by 2009. Instead, in half of the sub-Saharan African countries with available data, at least one in four children of enrolment age was not attending school in 2008. About 69 million school-age children were not going to school in 2008, down from 106 million children in 1999. Almost three-quarters of children out of school are in sub- Saharan Africa (31 million) or Southern Asia (18 million).
     Drop-out rates in sub-Saharan Africa remain high. Achieving universal primary education requires more than full enrolment. It also means ensuring that children continue to attend classes. In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 30 per cent of primary school students drop out before reaching a final grade.
     Moreover, providing enough teachers and classrooms is vital in order to meet demand, most notably in sub-Saharan Africa. It is estimated that double the current number of teachers would be needed in sub-Saharan Africa in order to meet the primary education target by 2015.

• Abolishing school fees in Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, Nepal and Tanzania: The abolition of school fees at primary school level has led to a surge in enrolment in a number of countries. In Tanzania, the enrolment ratio had doubled to 99.6 per cent by 2008, compared to 1999 rates. In Ethiopia, net enrolment was 79 per cent in 2008, an increase of 95 per cent since 2000. But the surge in enrollment in developing regions has brought a new set of challenges in providing enough teachers and classrooms.
• Investing in teaching infrastructure and resources in Ghana, Nepal and Tanzania: Ghana has recruited retirees and volunteers to meet teacher demand. Additional funds have also been allocated for the provision of temporary classrooms and teaching materials. In Nepal, investment has ensured that more than 90 per cent of students live within 30 minutes of their local school. And Tanzania has embarked on an ambitious programme of education reform, building 54,000 classrooms between 2002 and 2006, as well as hiring 18,000 additional teachers.
• Promoting education for girls in Botswana, Egypt and Malawi: Egypt’s Girls’ Education Initiative and Food-for- Education (FFE) programme encourage girls to attend school by providing free education and by constructing and promoting ‘girl-friendly schools’. By 2008, more than 1,000 schools were built and almost 28,000 students enrolled. In conjunction the FFE programme provides school meals to 84,000 children in poor and vulnerable communities. Botswana has reduced female drop-out rates by half by implementing readmission policies. Malawi has been promoting girls’ education in grades 1-4 by providing learning materials.
• Expanding access to remote and rural areas in Bolivia and Mongolia: Mongolia has introduced mobile schools (‘tent schools’) to reach children who would otherwise not have regular access to primary education. One hundred mobile schools have been providing educational services across 21 provinces. In Bolivia, a bilingual education programme has been introduced for three of the most widely used indigenous languages. It covered 11 per cent of primary schools in 2002, expanding access to education for indigenous children in remote areas.

• The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) supports countries in building quality primary education systems that reach all children, for instance through the Basic Education in Africa Programme, advocating for countries to adopt legal frameworks guaranteeing 8-10 years of uninterrupted basic education.
• In Ethiopia, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) supports a programme called “Berhane Hewan” which advocates putting an end to child marriages and keeping girls in
. To encourage families to let the girls complete schooling, girls receive a female sheep upon completing
the programme. In Malawi, UNFPA is working with Youth Councils to repeal a law allowing girls as young as 16 to be married and to support campaigns to keep girls in school.
• The World Food Programme (WFP) provides school meals, which act as a strong incentive for parents to send their children to school and help to build the nutritional foundation that is essential for a child’s future intellectual development and physical well-being. The programme also encourages parents to send more girls to attend classes.
• The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) partnered with UNESCO to address problems affecting education in politically unstable environments. ESCWA was responsible for infrastructure, while UNESCO took care of training and e-learning. The initiative facilitated capacity building
sessions on education strategy, instructor training and the creation of courses for teaching Arabic to non-Arabic speaking Iraqi schoolchildren.

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