Budget for education falls far short of Unesco standard

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Education is a human right and a tool for attaining not only academic excellence but also social justice and social progress. Through education, our citizens achieve not only personal growth, they also develop civic and political consciousness.

While we welcome the marked increase in the budget for elementary and secondary education in the proposed 2012 national budget, we believe that tertiary education should be allocated no less. The 1987 Constitution mandates the State to “protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels.”

In the case of the University of the Philippines, its budget reflects the government’s policy toward tertiary education. Of the P17.07-billion budget proposed by the university administration for 2012, the government, through the Department of Budget and Management, only approved P5.54-billion, or a measly 34 percent.

We reiterate our call for an increase in the budget for UP. We implore the members of Congress to assist UP in fulfilling its most important functions, namely, committing itself to national development and serving the Filipino nation and humanity.

In searching for new sources of funding for UP and the whole education sector, we ask Congress to carefully scrutinize and reduce discretionary spending, re-channel debt-servicing allocation to education, and legislate measures that will increase the tax effort of the government.

Finally, we re-echo the call of our national partner, the Youth Against Debt Coalition, to invest more in education by enacting a law that will automatically appropriate at least 6 percent of the Gross National Product (GNP) to the whole education sector—an international standard set by Unesco. The proposed 2012 education budget, despite the increase, only amounts to 2.5 percent of our 2010 GNP—less than half of—and a far cry from—our ideal budget.

As the House of Representatives takes up the proposed budgets for UP, the Commission on Higher Education and Department of Education, we join every Iskolar Para Sa Bayan in demanding that both chambers of Congress and the Aquino administration guarantee that every Filipino will have  quality, relevant and accessible education.

—ADRIAN AUDREY L. BACCAY,

for the Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran

at Kaunlaran (UP Alyansa),

University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City;

upd.alyansa@gmail.com

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