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PIA Press Release

President Arroyo bares initiative to set up forward-looking national education program

Manila (25 February) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced in Binalonan, Pangasinan that her administration has begun this year the initiative to create a forward-looking national education program

In a speech following the inauguration of a two-storey, four-room school building built for the Binalonan South Central School here, President Arroyo stressed this is being done because of the need "to generate more social impact from education".

This program, she said, involves the consolidated efforts of the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

President Arroyo was accompanied here by Education Secretary Jesli Lapus, Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral and Presidential Management Staff chief Hermogenes Esperon.

She said the Presidential Task Force on Education which she organized sometime ago submitted a recommendation seeking to improve the state of the main education highway, from pre-school education-includes elementary, high school, pre-college for some courses, college, masteral and doctoral education.

The President stressed that her administration showcased educational reforms in pre-school education when she signed Executive Order 685 seeking standardization of the pre-school curriculum for five-year old children with the goal of increasing the participation rate for grade one.

She also reiterated the determination of her administration to bring down the drop out rate in school to five per cent by 2010, and went on to challenge Education Secretary Lapus to bring this closer to reality in line with millennium development goal called "universal primary education".

"But even if the world may not be able to achieve it, with all our efforts here, we will be able to achieve it," the President confidently said.

She likewise stressed the importance of the local school boards in every town, city and province, chaired by the mayor and district supervisor with members from the ranks of key local officials and representatives of the Parents-Teachers Associations and others.

The President reminded that the Local Government Code allots a special education fund of one percent on real property to the local school boards to be spent for projects related to school improvement and development.

In the hometown of her late mother, the former First Lady Evangeline Macaraeg Macapagal, President Arroyo announced that whatever the local school board will allocate to implement the pre-school curriculum, "I will give Binalonan the equivalent amount".

On the other hand, Binalonan Mayor Ramon Guico Jr., president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, vowed that the local school board of his town will be active in pursuing the program of improving the participation rate of pupils which he promised to reach 94 per cent by 2010.

He said he will rally local school boards throughout the country to support the program to bring back out-of-school youth to the classroom.

While in Binalonan, the President also inaugurated an e-library and a separate library hub of the Juan Macaraeg National which contains 35,000 volumes of storybooks with different titles to be lent to 458 elementary and 101 high schools of the town. (PNA) [top]

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