DepEd boosts innovative strategies to achieve universal basic education

To reinforce the government's efforts in reaching all learners and achieving universal basic education, the Department of Education (DepEd) pressed the need to innovate in funding learning interventions and reforms.

DepEd emphasized this during the recent launch of the 2016 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report in Jakarta, Indonesia, which was attended by Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones.

In her presentation, Briones highlighted the Department's innovative approaches in engaging the support of stakeholders outside state and multilateral organizations, especially in attaining Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 4 to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.

In addition to utilizing conventional methods of financing, DepEd establishes partnerships at the national, local, and school levels to enable more learners have access to free, quality, equitable, and inclusive education.

Innovative Financing

One financing innovation at the national level is the Public-Private Partnership (PPP), which allows for the fast-tracking of classroom construction and delivery while enabling the public sector to focus on delivering other critical functions and services. Its beneficiaries include 2,226 schools in Regions I, III, and IV-A, and 1,760 schools in Regions I, II, III, X, CARAGA, and CAR.

Considered the longest-running example of PPP in the country's education is the Education Service Contracting (ESC), one of the components of the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE). Operating on the concept similar to the Senior High School (SHS) Voucher Program, ESC provides tuition subsidy for Grades 7 to 10 students who wish to pursue secondary education in certified private schools. The aim is to democratize and improve access to education, and reduce class size in public high schools.

Another innovative government program that gives stakeholders the opportunity to become proactive partners in education is the Adopt-a-School Program. It is a fund mobilization method based on the concept of matching grant involving the private sector and non-government organizations (NGOs). The costs on human resources, materials, and facilities acquisition and development are shifted to various stakeholders who have a natural interest in the promotion of basic education.

The Department also engages the personal participation of education partners through Brigada Eskwela, wherein an army of volunteers assemble to repair and prepare classrooms in time for the opening of classes. The venture provides private partners the chance to contribute resources, while local government units (LGUs) and community members provide workforce and volunteer services during the week-long activity.

Meanwhile, Pedals and Paddles Project aims to ease the travel time of students through the distribution of boats and bicycles in communities that need them most.

Local government units (LGUs) also provide supplementary funding support to public basic education through the Special Education Fund (SEF), a sustainable source of financial resources designated to the basic education subsector.

At the school level, the Department also implements Normative School Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE). This program allows for the allocation of funds to elementary and secondary DepEd schools that need to comply with service standards in implementing the approved regular curriculum for K to 6 and Grades 7 to 10. Special programs and activities that have been incorporated in the School MOOE beginning 2016 include special curricular programs in Science, Sports, Arts, and Special Education; DepEd internet connectivity program; schools-based management (SBM) grants; and Gulayan sa Paaralan.

World Education Target

The GEM Report monitors the progress of education targets in the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework, and aims to inform and influence national, regional and international policies on education, including areas of financing and aid, through an evidence-based review of progress and a balanced analysis of the most critical challenges facing countries and other stakeholders.

The report shows that the Philippines is one of the 145 countries, out of 157, which are lagging behind in the basic education goals for 2030 - the target set by world leaders, spearheaded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). But with the current trend, the world is 50 years late in meeting its education targets.

Room for Opportunities

Briones concluded her report by underlining that innovative financing strategies are developed differently by countries, based on their respective constitutional provisions, laws, government structure, and culture. She further emphasized that efforts to expand and improve basic education involve not one formula but many opportunities for creativity and innovation.

Under the Briones administration, the Department aims to address the continuing and expanding needs of the K to 12 program; strengthen and further enrich curricular reforms; expand the Alternative Learning System (ALS); enhance the Madrasah, Indigenous Peoples Education (IPEd) Program and learners with special needs education; strengthen public-private partnerships; expand the complementarity of private and public schools; hasten and streamline the procurement process; monitor and utilize the Department's budget effectively; and capacitate teachers, education leaders and other DepEd personnel with appropriate skills and knowledge.

Source: Philippine Information Agency