Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian believes the government should bolster and come up with new programs that aim to make education in the Philippines more competitive.
The education advocate said the low competitiveness of the Philippines in education remains a huge hurdle in our pursuit of economic growth amid the onset of globalization, especially with the upcoming Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) integration.
“We need to be competitive. The world is getting smaller and globalization is already here. Everyone is pushing for the ASEAN integration in this area, but we are not ready,” he said.
Among other issues, Gatchalian cited the recent agriculture deficit in the Philippines as one of our education-related problems due to the shortage of agriculture graduates.
“We are importing more than we are exporting when it comes to agriculture, but the Philippines being an agricultural country, it should be the other way around,” he explained.
The lawmaker said higher competitiveness in education will enable our country to field more highly skilled Filipino workers that can help us be more innovative.
For his part, he has been supporting for programs and projects that can help the education more competitive, as well as accessible to all Filipinos.
Here are some of his endeavors:
1) Supporting K to 12
Gatchalian has been a known advocate of Department of Education’s (DepEd) K to 12 program despite many people have voiced out their opposition on the education reform.
“The positive effect outweighs the negative short-term aspects of the K to 12 program. The additional two years in school is really an investment to the future of kids,” he said in an interview by Rappler.
The lawmaker noted the Philippines is among the only three countries in the world that follow the 10-year basic education cycle.
He also mentioned that one of the highlights of the program is the free technical-vocational education program, which will enable high school students to easily find job after graduation.
2) Giving Free College Education
A more accessible education will generate more educated citizens who will in turn form a more competitive labor force.
This is why Gatchalian authored House Bill No. 5095 or the “Free Higher Education Act”, which seeks to make tuition fee free in all state universities and colleges (SUCs).
He also believes that in pushing for “Free Higher Education Act” will we truly achieve the right to access education in all levels.
3) Building more Public Math and Science School
Building more public math and science Schools all over the country is also one of the key initiatives pushed by the first district representative of Valenzuela City.
Gatchalian is the primary author of HB 4801 or “Equitable Access to Math and Science Education Act”, which supports the establishment of math and science high schools nationwide.
The legislator explained such move will allow bright and talented students in the far-flung areas of the country to pursue their talents in these fields of endeavor.
“Without a solid workforce of scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and other skilled professionals, the Philippines will continue on with an economy perennially on the brink, yet never achieving, full industrialization and the prosperity that comes with it,” Gatchalian said.
As of now only 59 public science high schools are available in 43 out of 82 provinces nationwide which include those in the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) system, and other local and regional science high schools.
4) Instituting a National Feeding Program
Gatchalian hopes to establish a nationwide feeding program in elementary schools in legislating HB 5348 or the “Nutri-Skwela Act of 2015”.
He wants every locality in the country to experience benefit of the K to 6 In-School Feeding Program, which he successfully implemented in Valenzuela City.
The feeding program in Valenzuela City has been feeding almost 15,000 daycare and elementary students every school day since it began in 2012.
Emulating the similar program in every locality will help eradicate the malnutrition in children and will improve the school performance of undernourished kids.
5) Higher Teacher’s Salary
With more salary comes a more motivated and active teacher.
This is what Gatchalian thinks in wanting to increase teachers’ salaries from P18,549 to P31,000 in his legislating HB 5731.
The education advocate also thinks that a better pay keep Filipino teachers from leave the country. He said these instructors are an asset to our country in ensuring that we have more competitive graduates.
Gatchalian recently confirmed that his proposed measure has been included in the proposed Salary Standardization Law (SSL).
6) Continuous Teacher Education
It is not just additional salary that he wants teachers to receive, but also additional knowledge.
Gatchalian has been proposing the need to regularly train practicing private and public elementary teachers in his HB 4785 or the “Continuing Education for Teachers Act”.
If passed, DepEd will formulate the “Mandatory Teacher’s Education Program”, which will consist of at least 24 hours of lessons and training for them.
7) Pushing for Alternative Education
In his pursuit of a more competitive education, Gatchalian does not want to leave behind out-of-school youth (OSY), members of cultural minorities, indigenous people and persons with disabilities (PWDs).
For this purpose, the lawmaker wants to institute other forms of learning modes in his HB 4630 or the Alternative Learning System (ALS).
ALS Act will put forward a flexible form of education that can fit to the needs of individuals who were not able or are not capable of participating in the formal education cycle.
8) Reviving Mandatory ROTC
Gatchalian also thinks that we need more disciplined and nationalistic graduates.
This is the reason why he is pushing for the revival of the 2-year mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program in his HB 2338. (Tim Alcantara)