Increase budget for SUCs, invest in the country’s future

Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano joined the call of students and other legislators to invest more on quality tertiary education by allocating more funds for state universities and colleges (SUCs).

He lamented the administration’s lack of initiative to meet the United Nation’s recommendation that a country’s education budget should be six percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He noted that although the 2011 Education budget shows a nominal increase from the previous years, it is merely 2.29% of GDP.

While he commended the government’s efforts to prioritize basic education, he said that this should not be done at the expense of tertiary education. He added that education is being funded disproportionately resulting in decreasing numbers of students graduating from one level to the next.

“Of 100 students that enter into Grade 1, only 65 graduate elementary school. Of this number, only 43 graduate high school and only 23 go into college. And of the 23, only 14 graduate from college,” he said.

Cayetano said that research and experience would show that investment in education, especially in the tertiary level is an effective way to eliminate poverty and is a driver of global competitiveness since college graduates have a higher chance of contributing significantly to national development.

“Whether in a human development or national development angle, the state will benefit if we invest more on tertiary education,” he added.

The senator also pointed out that not all SUCs are equipped with the capacity to be entirely self-sustaining since most of these institutions do not have the land assets or resources to generate its own income. This, he said, leads to inevitable tuition fee hikes that further burden the poor who rely their hopes on education as a means to escape poverty.

“Based on the reports from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2008, 73 percent of Filipino youth were forced to drop out of school due to the unattainable price of higher education in the country,” he cited.

Cayetano said that aside from the lack of jobs available in the country, poorly-funded SUCs may have also led to adverse effects on the quality of its graduates who are competing in the labor force for employment.

He cited a recent report of Department on Labor and Employment (DOLE) saying that out of the 7.1% of our population that are unemployed, 1.2 million of them are even educated or college graduates.

“How can an SUC expect to produce quality graduates when it has insufficient budget to accommodate the demands of those wishing to enroll?” he said.

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