MANILA - Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte said on Tuesday the Philippines is on the right track in its efforts to achieve one of the United Nations (UN) 2030 agenda, particularly the goal for an "inclusive and equitable quality education."
In a speech, Duterte highlighted the administration's efforts as the Department of Education (DepEd) joins the observation of the International Day of Education (IDE).
"This year's theme 'To Invest in People, Prioritize Education' affirms that the new administration is on the right track," she said.
"At the UN Transforming Education Summit in September last year, President (Ferdinand R.) Marcos Jr. announced our commitment to recover the learning losses from the pandemic and rebuild our education to be more inclusive, relevant, and resilient to future shocks and disruptions," she added.
To address the learning loss and education mismatch for the future workforce, Duterte said budget allocation has been increased.
"Following the eight-point socioeconomic agenda of the Marcos administration, the Department of Education received the increased budget for the fiscal year 2023," she said.
The education chief underscored the Philippines' capacity to meet the recommended allocation for a country's education sector, which is at around 15 to 20 percent of the total government appropriations.
"From PHP631 billion in 2022, we now have PHP719 billion in 2023, making the education sector's percentage share of the total government appropriations within the recommended 15 to 20 percent," she said.
Through proper investment and prioritization of the youth's education and capacity-building, Duterte expressed confidence in progress in the years to come.
"I am confident that this is only the beginning of our renewed commitment to investing more in education and prioritizing the development of a future-ready workforce... With more than 13 million young people, the largest in our country's history, we are poised to benefit from this demographic dividend," she said.
Duterte said the young people are facing various challenges, hence the need for authorities to work closely with all other stakeholders to ensure child protection.
Cited among the challenges posed against the welfare of learners were susceptibility to various forms of abuse, drug addiction, violent extremism, climate change, human trafficking, gender equality, inclusion and sustainable development, among others.
"Second batch of our child protection specialization course for focal persons in the central offices, regional offices, and schools division offices is ongoing, where child protection specialists will in turn empower child protection committees in schools and protect learners from abuse, and support their entire wellbeing," Duterte said.
The DepEd earlier launched child protection hotlines to make contact offices more accessible to complainants.
As of the launch, 78 complaints have been sent to the DepEd via calls and emails.
Besides learners' rights, improvement to systems and foundational learning strategies shall be also given focus.
"Critical areas of focus include the crisis in foundational learning among our early grade learners, particularly in reading, numeracy, and science... We also need our education systems to be more resilient to any crisis. We are now seeing global and local disruptions such as adverse weather conditions and other public health emergencies," Duterte said.
"With increased investments also comes the responsibility to invest equitably, efficiently, and innovatively, as DepEd rolls out much-needed reforms in our basic education sector in the next six years," she added.
The department, meanwhile, is set to disclose on Jan. 30 more of these target reforms, including the current status, challenges and its action plan, through its Basic Education Report (BER). (PNA)