Literacy level dismal despite RP programs

News from the Department of Education is dismal.

Some 5.2 million Filipinos are illiterate, with the country’s school dropout rate among the highest in Asia, even higher than Indonesia and Vietnam.

“We are now at the dead end of education,” Education Undersecretary Manaros Boransing said Tuesday in his message welcoming the delegates to the Forum on Youth and Adult Literacy and Lifelong Learning held at the department headquarters in Pasig City.

Boransing said the Philippines has continuously failed to meet its goals on higher literacy despite Constitutional provision on free and compulsory education. The country now has more than 5.2 million illiterates, and its rate of school dropouts has gone up to an alarming level.

He said the dropout rate in the country is now among the highest in Asia, even higher than Indonesia and Vietnam.

He said the ever-rising dropout rate would inevitably take its toll on the Philippine economy especially amid the financial crunch in the country and global market, the official added.

“With these crises, the government should be compelled to implement without delay and strengthen education and literacy programs for youth and adults,” he added.

Little impact

Meanwhile, a literacy mapping of fifth and sixth class municipalities conducted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) proved the general sentiment that the government’s literacy programs have little impact on some areas.

“There were a number of villages in the bottom 30 where the literacy services of the government agencies had not been felt,” said the department’s assistant division chief, Virginia Ferer.

Ferer added that the country’s literacy programs are currently not among the priorities of some local governments, adding that the fifth and sixth class municipalities, the country’s most economically backward areas, have the highest number of illiterates.

Ferer stressed that the condition may continue to worsen if the government, particularly the local governments in these municipalities, would continue to ignore the problem.

The bottom 30 villages with lowest literacy rates are in the provinces of Abra, Benguet, Kalinga, Mountain Province, La Union, Batanes, Isabela, Laguna, Quezon, Albay, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Iloilo, Bohol, Cebu, Siquijor, Leyte, Samar, Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental and Surigao del Norte.

The bottom three villages with the lowest literacy rate are Matampa (30.4 percent), Alipuaton (32.9 percent) and Bunal (44.8 percent) in Salay, Misamis Oriental.

The literacy mapping showed that the local governments have not initiated literacy projects because they lack funding and interested parties who would help push the projects. Also, the local governments are leaving the responsibility of initiating literacy projects to the Education department or its teachers. Moreover, no resolution within the fifth and sixth class municipalities has been made to pursue such projects.

Ferer then offered the literacy mapping as “a useful tool for all the LGUs [local government units] in formulation of policies that will push further the decentralization of literacy programs and projects.”

She added that the results of the project “can guide NGOs [non-government organizations] in prioritizing the village beneficiaries of their literacy project.”

Ferer has also urged Congress to pass a law mandating municipal governments and other local governments to allot a percentage of their Internal Revenue Allocation for literacy projects.

“As a policy decision, literacy programs and projects should be included in the annual municipal development plans,” she said. (Manila Times)

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