Skaters: 2009 Budget Violated Int’l Standard on Education Spending

September 12, 2008 at 4:34 am 2 comments

Youth skaters storm Congress, demand 6% of GNP to Education, Repeal of Automatic Debt Servicing Provision 

Congress had a taste of the “latest” protest action from the youth—skateboarding.

YAD Skaters Storm Congress

YAD Skaters Storm Congress

So it seems when about 50 members of the Youth Against Debt (YAD) staged a “creative action” in front of the main gate of the House of Representatives (HoR) coinciding with Congress’ budget deliberation of the 2009 education budget. The youth group protested the blatant violation of a widely accepted international benchmark on education spending in the proposed 1.415 trillion 2009 National Government.

Complete with ramps and rails, YAD activists sent their message across by performing skate tricks and inspired maneuvers to awed bystanders. Stephanie Tan, YAD Spokesperson said this specific form of action is a vindication that more and more youths of different predilections are accepting as fact that education in the Philippines is not that rosy.

“While our approach in protesting is somewhat new, our message is basically the same. We maintain education is still fundamentally suffering from a perennial lack of budgetary support,” Tan said. 

Tan said this is most evident in the proposed 2009 education budget wherein education spending on basic and tertiary levels is only 2.14 % of the country’s Gross National Product (GNP). The youth group asserted the proposed budget violated an international standard on education spending set in 1996 by the International Commission on Education for the 21st Century of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) headed by Jacques Delors.

The UNESCO Delors Benchmark set the education expenditure of developing countries at six percent (6%) of the Gross National Product (GNP). More than a hundred countries including the Philippines recognize this as the accepted standard on education financing.

However, YAD said education spending in the Philippines as percentage of the GNP hovered no more than 3.8 percent.

“As a matter of fact, our country’s education spending as proportion of the GNP didn’t even reach 4 percent. From 3.8 percent in 1998 under Mr. Estrada, education expenditure as proportion of the total national income drastically dipped to 2.14 percent in Mrs. Arroyo’s proposed 2009 budget,” Tan explained.

Debt, Once Again

Skater protests violation on UNESCO standard

Skater protests violation on UNESCO standard

A debt and fiscal watchdog concurred with the group. Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) said constriction on social spending was largely due to the government’s long standing policy of religiously honoring all its debts.

FDC said that from 1996 to 2007, total interest payments amounted to P2.2 trillion compared to the total gap or losses our education suffered through the years which totaled to P1.66 trillion.

The group also said in the 2009 budget, interest payment for debts is 21.4% of the total general appropriations while total education allocation is only 14.5%

Automatic Appropriations on Education

 

Kabataan, nag-skate sa Kongreso

Kabataan, nag-skate sa Kongreso

YAD urged Congress to put forward a higher education spending in their version of the 2009 budget as their commitment to fulfill the international standard on education financing. It also challenged Congress to enact a law which will provide for the automatic appropriations of education as mandated by the UNESCO Delors Standard.

“Our government for the longest time has paid debts, many of which are illegitimate with such clock-like precision. It not only robbed generations of young people of their right to education, it also subscribed them to a life of unending debt payments,” Tan asserted.

“We therefore urge our lawmakers to heed our call.  We enjoin them to choose between the interest of creditor banks or the youth, burdensome debts or the education of its people. Now more than ever, let the lines be drawn,” Tan said.  

YAD is also supporting FDC’s call to repeal Sec. 31 (B) of Presidential Decree 1177 in Sec. 26 (B), Book 6 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1987, which ensures the automatic appropriation of payments for principal and interest on public debt.

The youth group said a law on the Automatic Appropriations of Education is designed not only to augment education spending but also to contribute in rescinding the Automatic Debt Servicing provision, as both cannot mutually exist in the annual budget.

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What is the Six will Fix! campaign?

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The Six will Fix! campaign is a campaign spearheaded by the Youth Against Debt (YAD) calling for an automatic appropriation law for education pegged at 6% of the GNP as prescribed by the Delors Commission of the UNESCO.

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