Education is the answer to poverty


“Give a man a fish and you feed him a day; teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”- MAMONIDES

PHILIPPINES – The above statement can refer to Education- the proverbial goose that lays the Golden Eggs.  “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating”- says Kofi Annan.

Given the 21% poverty rate in the Philippines- the Philippine Government has used Education – free education especially for the poor- to liberate them from the bondage of poverty and powerlessness.

Notice the approved P3.767-Trillion National Budget of the government.

Education has the highest allocation ( P691-B) followed by Public Works (DPWH) under the “Build” philosophy (P643-B). The DILG- powered by the IRA (tax) share of the LGUs is a poor third at only P172-B, then Health at P164.3-B and Defense (P145-B) along with Social Welfare (DSWD) at P138-B.

Even the great African Nelson Mandela believes so: “Education is the best weapon you can use to change the world.” He was a wide reader.

Everyone should be aware of the great opportunities for learning in the Government today. The man, of course, there are of course others, who is largely credited for the Free Education in the country is Rep. Joey Salceda of Albay. He is the principal author of the R.A. 10931 otherwise known as the “Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act”.

Free College Education- is this for real? At least 1,149 college students will find that out for sure when they enter school in June 2018.

The Senate version reportedly just cited “tuition” as free. But in the RA 10931- the State pays for almost everything in college- tuition, cost of living, books, and reviews and even has a window for graduates to pursue medicine and law. Salceda believes Education will “alleviate, if not eliminate poverty” as he claimed it did in his province of Albay.

Salceda said most of the close to P700-B educational fund in the GAA (General Appropriations Act) are already organic- or have been there embedded in the old budgets of the DepEd, CHED (Higher Education) and TESDA. He worked for the additionals to fund the “free education”

Billions were just added to make tuition and other expenses free for 1.3 million students in the SUCs (State Universities and Colleges) and the 250,000 students in the 11 qualified Local Government Universities and Colleges. There are also other forms of subsidy (not fully free) for students in some of these SUCs, LUCs, and TESDA.

The Law even has a leeway for those poor but deserving students who want to study in more expensive but government-accredited private schools- under the so-called Student Loan Program. Some P1.5-B a year has been budgeted for each year between 2018-2020 through the Land Bank and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

The loan is payable only upon gainful employment of the student graduate when the gross earnings will reach P250, 000 a year. The idea is not to graduate a student but only to starve him when he starts working since all his earnings will go to loan amortization.

That makes sense. Ask your local bank branches of Land Bank and DBP, Watson.

Statistics from the OECD shows that only 20% (9.6 million) of our population (over 100 million) have college degree education compared to progressive nations like Canada (55%); Japan (49%); and the United States (45%). Are education and economic advancement directly related?

In the Philippines, it is proven that college graduates receive 113% more salary than those who just finish elementary schooling and 74% over those who are merely high school graduates.

Education enhances productivity which is key to one’s value added to the place of work.

Even in the USA, the former Federal Board Chair Bernard Bernanke said that statistics showed that earnings of college graduates there are 75% higher than high school graduates – who, in turn, had 42% more premium pay than those without any diploma at all.

Especially in today’s highly-technical world, education allows the students to quickly apply their knowledge to the high- tech gadgets and methodologies- giving them a very high competitive edge over the others.

Records from the National Statistics Office also offered evidence of the value of education. College graduates account for 60% OFWs, high school graduates 36%, elementary only 4% and those without education almost nil.

The intervention of “free college education” by the government is absolutely timely. In a survey among 17-20-year-olds who graduated high school but are not in school, they cited the following reasons why: (a) high cost of education – 49%, (b) looking for work (25%) (c) Family matters (12%) (d)  Lack of interest (8%) and (e) Others (6%).

The above figures show 75% of the time, it is poverty that causes the poor high school graduates to stop pursuing a college degree.

We are not sure where the brilliant Bicolano congressman derived his figures. But Salceda says that Education compared to available Philippine-based investments provides the highest rate of return on investment (money one spent in schooling).

The figures are (17%) return per annum on investment for education, only 2.7% for long-term bonds, 4.5% for stocks and 4.5% for bank deposits and housing at 2.8 % (net of taxes).

What we can recall in the 1990s where high education (tuition only)  cost P100,000/year for college, about P70,000/year for high school P50,000/year (average) for a 7-year elementary course – that would total into a schooling cost of P1.030M (ignoring inflation) over16 years.

If the graduate’s first job hiring rate was P 20,000/month with an average adjustment of 10% per annum (merit and inflation), he would have earned P1.4M in 4 years (gross of taxes). Effectively, he paid for his schooling in a little after three years of working.

That’s close to 33% rate of return every year not counting the paid: vacation, sick leaves, clothing allowance, representation and car plan (for sales).

That is a graphic nutshell presentation that affirms Salceda’s theory that Education indeed offers the highest rate of return of most investments (except, of course if one is a crook: smuggler, drug lord , corrupt contractor, influence peddler and dirty public official).

That is another story, Watson.

In the meantime, we enjoin all our readers to look for free educational opportunities under the P700-B Education Program of the Government.

One can start with the free courses offered by TESDA where the favorites are Construction (36%), Tourism Related (22%), Agribusiness (12%) and Health and Wellness (6%).

We believe in Education. We believe in Knowledge Power. We believe in the Filipino.

Go for it, ladies and gentlemen.

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