One more child out of every 10 school-age children was not able to go to school, highlighting the need for higher government spending in social services, said research group .
Figures from the Department of Education (DepEd) show that participation rate at the elementary level, or the percentage of children aged 7-12 who are enrolled in public and private elementary schools, has fallen from 96.95% in SY 1999-2000 to 83.22% in SY 2006-2007. At the secondary level, only 58.59% of children aged 13-16 were enrolled in high schools in SY 2006-2007 from 65.43% in SY 1999-2000.
These figures highlight the need for government to allocate more resources for social services spending. The 2008 national budget allocated just over P2,000 per Filipino for education, 14% less in real terms than what was allocated in 1998. For health services, another important social service, only P253 was allocated per Filipino, which was 28% less in real terms than what was allocated in 1997.
Such services should be prioritized over the paltry subsidies the Arroyo administration has been using recently to win popular support from the poor. It recently allocated some P2 billion to provide four million poor families a one-time P500 electricity subsidy, and promised other subsidies such as loans for poor students. However, its education spending is only 12% of public expenditure and 2.1% of the gross domestic product. These are way below the international quality standards of 22% (for public expenditure) and 6% (for GDP).