International Youth Day: Transforming Education

The theme for 2019 focuses on "transforming education" to make education more accessible and inclusive for all willing and able youth. Steps have been taken by the government in recent years to ensure quality and accessible education for all Filipinos. 

International Youth Day is celebrated every 12th August of each year to recognize the significant role of young people as agents and partners for change. 

The theme for 2019 focuses on "transforming education" to make education more accessible and inclusive for all willing and able youth. 

Increased government efforts for a more inclusive and accessible education system

Steps have been taken by the government in recent years to ensure quality and accessible education for all Filipinos. 

About 50% of the country's 2019 national budget was allocated for education. To ensure education equality for all, the government has also apportioned about Php 115 Billion for key education programs. Majority of this budget, amounting to around Php 51 Billion, was intended to finance free tertiary education.

Several laws have also been passed to ensure an inclusive and responsive educational system, including:
• Republic Act (RA) No. 10533- Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013
• RA No. 7796- Technical Education and Skills Development Act of 1994
• RA No. 10931- Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act
• RA No. 10678- Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Act

Problems besetting the further development of the education sector

Despite vast government support, perennial problems continue to hound the education sector such as classroom shortage, lack of books, instructional materials and facilities, and lack of teaching personnel.

Studies by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) also reveal that "six out of 10 families in 2016 and five out of 10 families in 2017 were deprived of basic education” and “six out of 10 families had at least one family member aged 18 years old and above who did not complete basic education in 2016 and five out of 10 in 2017.”

Furthermore, statistics obtained from the International Labor Organization in 2017 suggests that about 22% of the youth in the country "is not in education, employment or training."

Moving Forward

Inclusive and accessible education can only be achieved if the youth's families have sufficient income-earning capacity to send their children to school. There is no such thing as "free" education today since a student requires transportation, food and school-related allowance to go to school. In order to be healthy and productive, a student must also be fed with nutritious meals.

The uncontrollable tuition fee hikes in private institutions also force students to either transfer to public schools or quit schooling altogether. The government must find a way to ensure that some level of regulation is exercised when it comes to tuition fee hikes.

At the end of the day, the demands of the education sector are growing due to technological advancements, population increase and changing industry requirements. Government action, citizen vigilance and participation, and dialogue between stakeholders may not be enough to solve the country's "education malaise." 

To change the educational system for the better, a radical and game-changing solution must be implemented. The author does not have any idea what that is. Nevertheless, Happy International Youth Day!

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About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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