Category: policy reforms

Policy Paper: Education

The contribution of basic education to development is not, however confined to economic progress. Education has intrinsic importance; the capability to read and write can deeply influence one’s quality of life. – Amartya Sen, 1998 Nobel Laureate in Economics

Apart from being a basic human right, education is a way out of poverty. Knowledge and skills increase productivity, enhance the opportunity of an individual to gain employment, and earn income. Education can save a child’s life. “Having a mother with primary education reduces child death rates by almost half in the Philippines .

Although numerous studies have shown that education provides innumerable benefits for families and national economies, the state of Philippine education leaves much to be desired. The educational system is as dismal as ever regardless of “diagnosis, prognosis and reform initiatives.” The system is fraught with eighty-year-old problems : low pupil performance, high dropout rates, poor teacher quality, excessive centralization, inappropriate language of learning, irrelevant learning materials and inadequate financial resources.

The inability of the country to successfully provide every Filipino child with access and success in education is the theme of this paper. It presents the key problems in the education system and highlights the major changes that need to be introduced.

Continue reading the MGG Policy Paper on Education (Second Draft).

View the compilation of the presidential candidates’ platforms on education.

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Policy Paper: Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction

The Philippines was one of the fastest growing economies in Asia in 1960. Its per capita GDP of US$612 was twice as much as Thailand’s and three times as much as Indonesia’s. The situation is now reversed with Thailand’s per capita income being twice as much as that of the Philippines. The growth of the Philippine economy has lagged behind the economies in Asia. Per capita income in the Philippines grew at an average rate of 1.4 percent over 1960 to 2008 while other economies grew at annual rates between 3.6 percent and 6.0 percent.

A direct consequence of the country’s low economic growth is its inability to reduce poverty .The poor increased from 30.0 percent of the population in 2003 to 32.9 percent in 2006. The Gini coefficient, a measure of the inequality in income distribution in the country has remained unchanged at 44 per cent for decades, in contrast to Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia where reductions in income inequality have been made. The richest 5.0 percent of households in the Philippines account for nearly a third of national income, while the poorest 25 percent account for only 6 percent.

Studies after studies identify binding constraints that the Philippines have failed to address: These are: a) an unstable fiscal position; 2) inadequate infrastructure; and, 3) a weak investment climate. The tax effort has weakened from 17.0 percent in 1997 to 13.0 percent in 2008. Government has perennially been off-track with respect to its revenue targets and finances the budget through borrowings. Debt service takes up more than one-fourth of the budget and the debt stock has risen to P4.2 trillion or 56.3 percent of GDP in 2008. An anemic fiscal position is a major constraint in the provision of adequate public goods and services.

Continue reading the MGG Policy Paper on Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction (First Draft).

Policy Paper: Governance and Corruption

The Philippines has been blessed with a variety of assets that can be drawn upon for development, including a dynamic and well educated people, a biologically rich and diverse environment, a location in the fast-growing East Asia region, and a very active civil society . It has great potential for rapid development, but it has remained one that has yet to be fully realized. The country has been overtaken by many East Asian countries in terms of growth and development. Undoubtedly, improvements in the quality of life of the people have lagged significantly behind other East Asian countries and inequality remains high. The World Bank explained the contrast between the country’s potential and its actual development outcomes as a result of the limited ability of public institutions to resist influence by special interests and to work effectively for the common good. This has created a vicious cycle of weak public services, lack of trust in the government, and an unwillingness to provide adequate resources to it.

The Philippines faces a crisis of poor governance. In the political arena, the country is in what has been described as a “democratic recession” characterized by widespread corruption, abuse of power, lack of transparency and accountability, inefficiency, constricting space for people participation, and weakening of democratic institutions (such as the COMELEC, Ombudsman, Judiciary, check and balance between the Executive and the Legislative, etc) .

This paper aims to provide an overview on the problem of governance in the Philippines and present an agenda to strengthen public institutions and the practice of governance.

Continue reading the MGG Policy Paper on Governance and Corruption (First Draft).