A staunch advocate of Education reform has called on the leadership in the House of Representatives to expedite the approval of a measure that seeks to establish at least one public math and science high school in every province across the country.
Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian made the call, expressing belief that his House Bill No. 4801 can help the Philippines in its current transition to the K to 12 curriculum.
Known as “Equitable Access to Math and Science Education Act,” Gatchalian explained once made into law, his bill will provide more high-standard classrooms and facilities for incoming high school students living in far-flung areas.
During the initial deliberation of the bill in the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture last May 11, Gatchalian also noted that his bill can also help resolve the problem of student migration, which congests public schools in highly urbanized cities.
“Sa ngayon, there is a trend of high school students in provinces moving to other highly urbanized regions because they do not have a public math and science high school in their locality,” Gatchalian said.
“The need to establish such schools is urgent because once K to 12 is fully implemented, itong migration trend might cause severe overpopulation in public schools in urban areas and affect the access to education of students living within the immediate vicinity of their schools,” he added.
As of now there are only 59 public science high schools spread out in 43 out of 82 provinces nationwide which includes those in the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) system, and other local and regional science high schools.
Under the K to 12 program, public senior high schools (SHS) will consider the economic needs of nearby industries in offering available academic tracks to address local job demands and will make high school graduates more employable within their locality.
The former three-term mayor of Valenzuela City pointed out that such arrangement between public SHS and local industries might become useless if the students would be coming from a different province.
“Let us say taga-Palawan ako tapos mag-aaral ako sa Metro Manila. Malakas ang demand sa office job sa Metro Manila kaya track sa pagiging accountant ang kukunin ko. Magugulat na lang ako pagbalik ko sa Palawan, Agri-Fishery sa tech-voc pala ang in-demand kaya ang mangyayari mapipilitan akong mag-migrate ulit para naman maghanap ng trabaho na fit sa pinag-aralan ko,” Gatchalian explained.
The lawmaker also noted that building public math and science schools is an investment in human capital since it will produce more Filipino scientists and engineers that will fuel innovation and sustainable economic growth in the long-run.
Based on the 2013 Global Innovation Index, the Philippines ranked 90th out of 142 countries, a dismal placing that puts us in the same company as countries such as Uganda and Botswana.
“We need to train an army of scientists and engineers to build the foundation of a modern, knowledge-based economy that will pull Filipinos out of poverty as we build a strong and vibrant middle class,” Gatchalian said.
“To do this, we need to intensify our efforts to push science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education at all levels,” he added.
If passed into law, HB 4801 will mandate every province to establish at least one public math and science high school within their respective capital. Graduates of schools established under HB 4801 must enroll in a Bachelor of Science program upon graduation.
A graduate who shifts to a course in any unrelated field prior to completion of the degree program shall pay a fine equivalent to the total full cost incurred by the government in subsidizing the secondary education program of said graduate. (Tim Alcantara)