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70,000 illiterate Bicolano pupils can be considered a ‘national crisis,’ says Salceda

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House ways and means committee chair Joey Salceda (Albay) said the report that more than 70,000 elementary students in Bicol cannot read in both English and Filipino is “a ticking economic time bomb.”

“This is a ticking economic time bomb. We need to respond with policy as soon as we can,” said Salceda.

Salceda said that 70,000 illiterates in one region alone “is a crisis,” and “already a cause for concern.”

“We should call the situation what it is—a national crisis that requires decisive national action,” sais Salceda.

According to Salceda, the situation in Region 5 emphasizes the need “for systemic national reform” so that whatever progress is made actually endures.

Salceda warned that if young Filipinos are not properly skilled and properly educated as well as if they cannot apply what’s in their books in practical, everyday life, then “we shall have failed as a country and as a system.”

“We will not be able to compete in the next generation,” he added.

Salceda stressed that the economic costs for every non-literate learner “can be staggering” considering that “functional literacy is a determinant of whether a student finishes school.”

“On average, the rates of return to education go as much as 7 percent per year of high school, and up to 22 percent per year of college. Those who cannot finish school because they are not functionally literate will likely earn about 50 percent of what a college degree-holder earns, on average,” said Salceda.

“If the rate of latent illiteracy were the same for all regions, we could be foregoing up to 2 percent of national income every year by the time these students start working.”

The problem right now according to Salceda needs “a robust, all-of-country, all-of-government response to the situation” considering that students and our teachers “are among the most overworked in the world.”

“Too many subjects. Too many activities. Not enough results. In college, I was taught the principle of ‘non multa sed multum.’ Not many things, but much. That’s what our education system needs today,” said Salceda.

He the added that country’s literacy programs needs consistency since it appears to that when government changes and it becomes less aggressive in promoting better quality of educations, the outcomes also slide back.

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