11M Pinoys suffer from functional illiteracy

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — A non-government group disclosed that 11 million Filipinos are suffering from functional illiteracy while four million have no basic literacy skills based on a survey conducted by the Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS).

Edicio De La Torre, E-Net Philippines president, said what is alarming is that the number of illiterates continue to increase despite government and private sectors’ effort to address the issue.

“We expect the illiteracy rate to further increase as more children were unable to go to school due to various factors such as economic hardship and with those already in school dropping out,” he said.

De La Torre as well as other education specialists from E-Net Philippines and its partner organizations said if left unaddressed, the problem might hamper the country’s effort to meet all the goals under the Education For All 2015 (EFA) set by the United Nations (UN).

Flora Arellano, vice president of E-Net Philippines, urged the government to pour in more budget on education to enable the Department of Education (DepEd) to come up with more programs and initiatives to address the growing number of out-of-school youths and adults.

Arellano said that in the past years, the budget for education was only around 12% of the national budget, or 2.36% of the country’s gross domestic product. This is way below international standards, where 20% of the national budget goes to education.

“The proposed budget speaks very little about quality, equity, the out-of-school youth, the illiterates, and the unreached,” Arellano added.

She said the budget for youth and adult literacy should be at least three percent of the total education budget, adding that currently, ALS got only a meager one percent share in DepEd’s funding.

The group earlier proposed a P1.5-billion budget for ALS in 2010, compared to DepEd’s proposed funding of P284 million.