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The case of education amidst a pandemic in Pasig

Aian Guanzon


"Matigil na lahat huwag lang ang edukasyon ng ating susunod na henerasyon ng mga Pasigueno,” Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto said.

The Philippines is definitely one of the nations which rely heavily on human capital. According to The Human Capital Project by the World Bank Group, by improving skills, health, knowledge, and resilience, people can be more productive, flexible, and innovative. Human capital is a central driver of sustainable growth and poverty reduction. Hence, it just makes sense for cities like Pasig, to always have it as top priority.

“Human capital is positively correlated to economic growth since investment tends to boost productivity. The process of educating a workforce is a type of investment, but instead of capital investment such as equipment, the investment is in human capital.” Investopedia clearly gives a clear picture.

Education is one of the core components of human capital - and how does Pasig stand for education in the city? You would be surprised.

Education in Pasig

Basic literacy rate in Pasig is 99.9%, which is higher than that of the Philippine literacy rate of 99.08% per UNESCO Institute of Statistics (for ages 15 to 24 years). Additionally, studies show that the ideal textbook per student ratio would be 1:2 (0.5 or 50%), anything less (example 1:10 or 10%) makes learning very challenging. And while many areas in the country have not achieved anywhere near a 1:2 textbook per student ratio, Pasig has recently kept a 1:1 ratio from preschool to secondary educational levels. There are, of course, still a few areas for improvement like the city’s classroom to student ratio which is 1:47 in secondary level against the standard which is 1:45.

Probably one of the most popular schools in the country, Rizal High School or commonly known as RHS is an institution of secondary education that’s based in Pasig. It was once listed as the “largest secondary school in the world” since 1993 by the Guinness Book of World Records until 2005 when another school in China took over the title. The evaluation was based on the size of the student population. The school was named after the Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Notable graduates of the institution include former Senate presidents Neptali Gonzales and Senator Jovito Salonga, former Senator Rene Saguisag, Maestro Lucio San Pedro, and National Artist Carlos "Botong" Francisco to mention a few.

The city also has some of the leading special education schools in the country, like De Castro Elementary School, San Lorenzo Ruiz Elementary School, Guardian Angel Learning Center of Pasig, Good Shepherd Montessori School of Pasig, Inc., Mariamclaire Integrated Academy Inc., and Westdrive Education Foundation, Inc., picking from the list from the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA).

More support under Sotto

In one of his Facebook Live videos, Sotto pointed out that the city government has raised P1.2 billion to provide tablets and laptops to public school students and teachers in elementary and highschool. Moreover, according to a report from the Philippine News Agency (PNA), the city government has also allocated P350 million to sustain the education system in the city. Sotto said that the local government would continue to provide educational materials for the students while adopting distance learning modality.

With most of the private schools opening earlier than the first day of class for public schools - parents, teachers, and students already had a glance of how the schooling experience is going to be amidst a contagion. Teachers and students have to adjust to the increased exposure to new technology when it comes to sharing information and the use of teleconferencing applications or platforms, like Zoom, Google Meet, Google Classroom, and Microsoft Teams. Of course, they also have to deal with internet connection problems, hence some synchronous activities may better be facilitated in an asynchronous manner, and this is where modules and homework come in. Parents also have to do more now to support their children with the new schooling process, to the point that they have to facilitate teaching for their own kids sometimes. Perhaps one of the major advantages any party can see in this situation, is the learning and teaching being done at the comfort and safety of their homes, discounting time and money which they could have spent to travel to and from schools.

In another Facebook Live video hosted by the mayor himself, he said that scholars will continue to be given incentives by the Local Government Unit (LGU) as it happens every semester, despite some delays. Moreover, he guarantees that all public school students shall receive tablets as promised. These devices will be properly turned over from the government unit to the school administrations before the classes start. "It's not ideal, first time na hindi face-to-face, pero kakayanin natin to, kaya natin to, basta magtulungan lang tayo," Sotto uttered. He also willingly shared information on the procurement bidding done for the devices and software to be provided to the students in the city.

As of press time, the figures speak for itself:

Laptop count: 5,220

Total Approved Budget of the Contract (ABC): PhP 287,100,000.00

Winning Bid Price per unit: PhP 43,534.00

Item: Lenovo ThinkPad E15

% Lower than ABC: 21%

Elementary School Tablet count: 77,000

Total Approved Budget of the Contract (ABC): PhP 462,000,000.00

Winning Bid Price per unit: PhP 5,135.00

Item: Lenovo Tab M8 Quad-Core

% Lower than ABC: 14%

High School Tablet count: 63,000

Total Approved Budget of the Contract (ABC): PhP 441,000,000.00

Winning Bid Price per unit: PhP 5,900.00

Item: Cherry Mobile E80 Plus Octa-Core

% Lower than ABC: 16%

Software for Students

Total Approved Budget of the Contract (ABC): PhP 41,625,569.90

Winning Price Bid: PhP 38,884,046.00

% Lower than ABC: 7%

Video Lesson Production

Total Approved Budget of the Contract (ABC): PhP 15,000,000.00

Winning Price Bid: PhP 14,220,000.00

% Lower than ABC: 5%

From the winning bids, the LGU saves 16% or PhP 199,265,248.00 of the total approved budget PhP 1,246,725,569.00. The mayor claims that they will spend the cost savings to late enrollees and transferees to public schools in Pasig. The mayor thanked the Department of Education (DepEd) Division of City Schools of Pasig and the technical working group behind the procurement project, which the mayor dubs to be real, open, and transparent. The kick off of turning over of these devices happened last Monday, September 28, 2020.

Community outlook

One can easily tell how committed a government is in investing in human capital, and that is by its efforts towards improving healthcare and education. While it is clear that Pasig under the current administration, has been on top of its toes to hold human capital standards transcendent, there are certain elements that may negatively impact human capital development beyond their direct influence. One of which is the existing health crisis. But the other key element, and probably the most important, is the people’s outlook towards human capital development. It is upon us to further push for improved education by maximizing available resources, with or without Covid-19, realizing its importance today and in the future. Without cooperation, many efforts from the government - like precautionary healthcare measures and campaigns, educational assistance, and many others - might just go down the drain.

“Human capital consists of the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate throughout their lives, enabling them to realize their potential as productive members of society. Investing in people through nutrition, health care, quality education, jobs and skills helps develop human capital, and this is key to ending extreme poverty and creating more inclusive societies.” - The Human Capital Project, World Bank Group

In a graduation ceremony in the University of Asia and the Pacific, one of the top schools in the country, and one that's located in Pasig, Mayor Sotto talked about the opportunities the pandemic brought about. "Don’t let any situation dampen your dreams or visions for the future, rather I challenge you to find ways to get more connected with your community. All the future money and success that you might have will mean next to nothing if we’re not connected to other members of society. So find people who share the same values as you do, connect with them, and build things together. Be a catalyst for change together. Reach out to the underprivileged together. Fight for the good that you want to see in this world together,” the mayor pronounced.

Any effort for education is an effort for the future. Pasiguenos can reciprocate these efforts by ensuring that they maximize the basic services and all the support being provided to elevate the quality of education even at trying times and use the knowledge and wisdom for the betterment of the society.

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