Philippine Country Report: EFA 1990-2015

        Nearly a quarter century ago the Education for All (EFA) movement was born in Jomtien, Thailand where delegates from around the world signed the Declaration on Education for All, a historic commitment to “meet the basic learning needs of all” by universalizing primary education and slashing illiteracy rates. In 2000, the six EFA goals, covering all aspects of basic education from early learning and adult literacy to education quality, were formalized at the World Education Forum in Dakar, with a target to achieve the goals by 2015.

As in other countries, government commitment to EFA and efforts from education stakeholders and other sectors led to a remarkable progress in attaining EFA goals in the Philippines. During the Global Education for All meeting in Muscat, Oman on 12-14 May 2014, the Department of Education (DepEd) submitted a Country Report titled “Philippine Education for All Plan of Action: An Assessment of Progress Made in Achieving the EFA Goals.” The concluding meeting sought to envision the global education agenda in the post 2015 period.

            The Country Report shows that for EFA Goal No. 1 (Universal Coverage of Out-of-School Youths and Adults with Regard to Providing Basic Learning Needs), there is an estimated 2 million Filipinos that should still be taught basic learning needs through DepEd. Despite, however, the implementation of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) and other related programs, only 5.7 percent of the estimated two million Filipinos have been enrolled. The country aims to close the 17.4 percent gap by end of 2015.  For EFA Goal No. 2 (Universal Participation and Elimination of School Leavers and Repeaters in the First Three Grades), the report states that 75.7 percent of preschool-age children are enrolled in Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs, leaving a 24. 3 percentage point gap from the EFA 2015 target. It was noted, however, that reaching the target would be possible given the passage of Republic Act 10157 which provides the universalization of kindergarten for five-year old children. Further, DepEd has implemented various preschool programs that helped to address constraint on access of pre-schoolers to early childhood care and development services such as Summer Preschool Program and 8-week Preschool. The third goal under EFA 2015 is the universal completion of the full basic education cycle with satisfactory annual achievement levels.  The Philippine EFA 2015 target completion rate for elementary education is 81 percent and 75.3 percent for secondary education. Based on the report, elementary education completion rate has achieved 72.1 percent, posting an 8.9 percentage point gap from the target while for secondary education, there is almost nil gap of 0.2 percentage point from the target or 75.1 percent achievement. The report also reveals that there remains a 2.1 percentage point gap from the prescribed 6 percent GDP share despite an increasing educational budget in the past years, wherein the 2011 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased to 3.9 percent from the 2.8 percent registered GDP in 2009.

 

Given some continuing shortfall in targets, DepEd formulated its Acceleration Plan to upscale efforts to fully meet the EFA targets at the end of 2015. The plan’s basic strategy is to focus on the 40 bottom and underperforming divisions, districts or schools and develop aggressive and purposive, but simple and efficient EFA advocacy activities, linking these divisions/districts/schools with existing forums and relevant bodies at provincial and local levels. The Plan also hopes to develop a set of guidelines for the field offices for implementing acceleration programs and utilize ICT to upgrade the quality of teaching and learning, continuous formative assessment, in designing and implementing remedial actions for students who are lagging behind, among others.

 

Other government agencies, LGUs, civil society, NGOs, corporations and other private entities contribute extensively to the national EFA campaign. Several programs and projects such as the Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the Alternative Learning System, and other inter-agency efforts also contribute much to achieving EFA targets till the end of 2015. 

Other than these efforts, there is the need for the strong and continued acknowledgement of the relevance of EFA. Hence, a Post-2015 Education Agenda was conceptualized to accelerate progress towards the 2015 EFA goals and targets through going beyond its depth and scope to address new challenges, reach the most marginalized, and give heightened emphasis to equity, quality and learning. Dialogues and consultations with relevant stakeholders are currently underway to establish the scope and shape of the Post-2015 Education Agenda. 

The Philippines, through its representative DepEd Assistant Secretary Jesus Mateo and Planning Director Mr. Roger B. Masapol, attended the 2014 Global EFA Meeting in Muscat, Oman. Education ministries and leaders adopted the ‘Muscat Agreement’, calling for a “stand-alone or a comprehensive overarching goal, with measurable global targets and related indicators, that can be integrated into a broader international development framework. Among the recommendations for the post-2015 agenda is the establishment of a “single, clearly-defined, global education agenda that reflect a perspective based on equity and inclusion, with particular attention to gender equality and to overcoming all forms of discrimination in and through education”. Further, the promotion of flexible lifelong learning and life-wide learning opportunities is deemed necessary for advancing education in the post-2015 period.