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PIA Press Release

PGMA bats for highest standard of education and less number of school dropouts

Manila (3 February) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called for restructuring of the country's educational system to enhance its quality with less number of school dropouts as she delivered her keynote speech during the jampacked opening ceremonies Thursday (Jan. 31) of the First Biennial Education Congress (FBEC) at the Tent City of the Manila Hotel.

The "general objective" of the two-day education congress -- which President Arroyo had earlier ordered to be convened this month - is to "assess Philippine education for the purpose of enhancing its quality and relevance."

The Presidential Task Force on Education (PTFE) presented its Progress Report on its education studies and recommendations to the close to 500 participants of the congress; and consulted with the attending stakeholders on issues and concerns affecting Philippine education. Based on the results of the two-day congress, the PTFE shall submit the "appropriate action plans" on the country's educational system to President Arroyo.

The congress was dubbed as a "turning point in Philippine education, a meaningful, tangible testament of our common desire to improve and update the country's educational system," said PTFE member Dr. Emmanuel Angeles who thanked President Arroyo for the latter's "continuing support for Philippine education."

For her part, Presidential Assistant for Education Mona Valisno said "no less than the President of the land called us all to gather and enjoined us to put our acts together so that no more hindrance can ever be stronger against our raging fire to bring the Philippines to the front of quality education."

In the overview that she made about the education congress, Valisno said the President's commitment to improving the educational system gave rise to the administration's "main education highway" whose main goal is to "contain each student at all levels (basic, secondary and tertiary) in the highway; catch them, and provide them with relevant educational interventions lest they drop out; put them back in the highway; and keep them on the right track."

President Arroyo herself enthused that even before she could read the United Nations Millennium Development Goals - one of which is to achieve universal primary education by 2015 - "we have already internalized that goal."

As early as 2001, the year she ascended to the Presidency, the Chief Executive noted that her administration's "single act" of stopping the collection of miscellaneous fees during the enrollment period "brought in almost one million children to school."

In the same speech, President Arroyo paid tribute to the teachers who attended the summit, voicing her "special, special welcome to our teachers because when you think of education, you think of teachers."

The Arroyo administration has hired a total of some 65,000 new teachers from 2001 to 2007 - 15,000 of them in 2001, and more than 50,000 between 2002 and 2007.

As of 2006, a total of 100,000 teachers had also been trained in Math and Science. The President has also set aside P1 billion for the in-service training of teachers for this year.

"Teachers are backbone of our educational system. Without these selfless men and women, our children would fall short of our dreams and aspirations. We are deeply indebted to the hard work and dedication of all our teachers. Their work is noble and patriotic. They deserve the praise and respect of every Filipino," the President intoned.

"That is why teachers received additional compensation in 2006 and a 10-percent salary increase in 2007. That is why unlike in previous administrations, teachers now receive at least the same amount of the increasing bonus that other national government workers receive - in fact, the second installment of the bonus is coming soon to complete P10,000"

"That is why teachers are included in the salary increase provided in our administration bill for the third round of salary standardization - let's all work for Congress to pass the bill."

"Teachers above all, but also every participant here is a stakeholder in the national effort to fight poverty by working towards a relevant and high-quality educational system. Labanan ang kahirapan. Isulong ang karunungan," the President concluded. (OPS) [top]

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