09 January 2013

Clarifying The Education For All (EFA) Plan

Education 4 All
(Note: I lifted the following portion of the Draft Report Mr. Nap Imperial prepared in November 2007 to clarify the contexts and rationale of the Philippine EFA movement which is quite different from those propounded by the other countries.)

Following the country's Plan of Action for Education for All, this Mid-decade Report is all about the goals and efforts of the Philippines to make the Filipinos become functionally literate.

Attaining functional literacy in the country in the next 10 EFA years is NOT JUST ABOUT SCHOOLS AND SCHOOLING. It is about education. In line with the World Declaration on Education for All embodied in both Jomtien Declaration and Dakar Framework, we would like to meet the totality of the so-called Basic Learning Needs (BLNs) of Filipinos of all ages and circumstances. This is to be pursued within EFA's "expanded vision of education" in a manner that will fulfill our people's basic human right.

This is not the usual type of educational planning. Our EFA 2015 Plan of Action’s significance to the country and the international education community lies more in it s being a document of political will, imagination and creativity that should address long-persistent problems of basic education. This is about harnessing technical change or new ways of doing things that have been proven valid, feasible and desirable in the past in order that the marginalized, those outside or shut out of school system, those in danger of getting out of the school system, special groups-and-gender disadvantaged may be redeemed and prevented from further marginalization.

The school remains as the backbone of our educational delivery system. With EFA, we would like to improve on it as the conventional venue for teaching and learning. However, for all the natural limitations and social and financial constraints of the school system to attract, enroll and keep children in schools, EFA 2015 is a time to maximize the use of educational innovations and technology by way of alternative delivery modes (or ADMs), both simple and appropriate or advance, where applicable - to reach out to and keep more children and enable them to learn better. This way, we can move towards universalizing quality primary education and making secondary education more accessible to all.

Schooling need not be the end and sole venue for one's acquiring functional skills needed for life. We realized during the past 15 years since EFA 1 that if we would depend on the schools alone, we would not be able to provide education to ALL EDUCABLE FILIPINOS. Thus, consistent with the EFA vision, it is also our intention to deliver or cause to deliver the BLNs via the non-school modalities. Those who cannot be accommodated in schools or choose learning outside the classroom has the Alternative Learning System (or ALS) as an option for our youths and adults from all social classes. With ALS, they can utilize their prior learning and go on learning and be empowered by the basic but useful competencies to survive and develop themselves for greater upward social mobility.

In either case, in school or out of school, such learning shall be delivered with quality assurance anchored on the Philippine concept of “functionality.” With this as the hallmark of the Plan, gaining “life skills” shall be afforded to all Filipino learners.

The Philippine Department of Education, thankfully, is not alone in the pursuit of this goal and provision of the BLNs for all. Full partnership with the key stakeholders, particularly those responsible for delivery, planning and funding is operationalized under the Grand Alliance for EFA prescribed by the World Declarations. Hence, a new way of looking at and counting, allocating and mobilizing financial and non-monetary resources has been launched under EFA. These processes will be orchestrated under one strategy and governance so that with the comprehensive set of old and new monitoring and evaluation indicators attuned to the educational objectives, the synchronized efforts will bring out commonly desired results preferably at the commonly scheduled time.

Lastly and with a sense of humility, EFA 2015 and its Grand Alliance strategy behooves learning from and capitalizing on the past experiences of our successes, pitfalls and inadequacies. Through this strategy, we hope to ensure continuity, coherence of purpose and complementation of efforts regardless of management and administrations until the year 2015.