Thursday, 01 June 2000

P208 billion for social services_

Fighting poverty through
better health and education

By Gina Mission

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The government places health and education among the "key interventions" and basic social services necessary to reduce poverty among Filipinos.

.....Its National Anti-Poverty Agenda declares that priority in the allocation of government resources shall be directed toward the delivery of basic social services in health and nutrition, education and training and housing, among other social "safety net" programs. 

....."These are the key interventions of government to protect and eventually empower the most vulnerable and disadvantaged sectors of society," the Agenda reads. 

.....Such priority reflects a concept spelled out in "Fighting Poverty in Asia and the Pacific," a paper prepared by the Asian Development Bank. "Everyone should have access to basic education and primary health services,'' the paper says. "Poverty is better measured in terms of basic education, health care, nutrition, water and sanitation, among others."

.....As of May 2000, the National Anti-Poverty Commission has listed some P208 billion worth of projects for social services. 

Assistance to the poorest families

.....Under the government's Lingap para sa mahirap program, a total of P360 million will be spent, or is being spent, on programs providing health insurance to the 100 poorest families in each of the country's 78 provinces, and other forms of medical assistance to children and adults, as well as to rural health units. 

.....Another program, "Doctors for the Barrios," which has a budget of P25 million, will field 104 doctors in far-flung fifth-class and sixth-class municipalities not reached by health workers.

.....Sentrong Sigla, a P70-million program, encourages quality health care at all levels of the health system by giving awards to outstanding facilities in provincial and district hospitals and health centers. A P42-million health development program provides funding support to encourage health cooperation among local government units.

Education programs

.....The Department of Education, Culture and Sports carries the most numerous projects under the government's poverty eradication program.

.....Some P800 million is being spent, from 1998 to 2000, for an early intervention program for children with disabilities. This program gives training to parents, para-teachers, social workers and community volunteers on the care and educational development of children with disabilities, from 1 to 15 years old, particularly those living in depressed areas. An outlay of P3.19 million goes to training workshops for administrators and teachers in this program, while P500 million is for the production of materials in Braille and in large print, for elementary and high school students who are blind or have low vision. The training of parents of children with disabilities has a budget of P210,000. 

.....Some P75,000 is being spent for an integrated education program for working students. A1998-1999 preschool service contracting program is for 5-year-olds who cannot be accommodated in preschools in fifth- and sixth-class municipalities, urban poor communities and relocation areas. It has a funding of P109 million, to come from the Bases Conversion Development Administration.

.....A $37 million (about P1.48 billion at P40 to $1) six-year early childhood development project, which started in 1998 and will continue until 2003, reflects the government's policy direction for Filipino children six years old and below. 

Multi-grade schools

.....As a response to the perennial shortage of classrooms and teachers, the government will continue its multi-grade program, which allows the holding of simultaneous classes at different levels under one teacher. This program, which covers 2,815 pupils from 27 pilot schools, and 201,177 multi-grade pupils from 2,029 multi-grade schools, started in 1995 and is scheduled to wind up in 2000. It has a budget $951,918 (about P38 million).

.....One program seeks to provide effective and affordable secondary education to high school students who cannot attend school regularly because of poor finances, or perhaps because they have to help their families make a living. It has a budget of P710,000 and covers students in 15 pilot schools.

.....The 1999 Balik-paaralan (back to school) program is aimed at enabling out-of-school adults from 20 to 45 years old to finish high school. Implemented in 33 secondary schools nationwide, it has a funding of P9 million.

.....Some P400,000 is set aside to produce self-instructional modules in Social Studies, Science and Technology, and English, to help absentee students cope with missed lessons. The project is intended to reduce the dropout rate in secondary schools and aid teachers in preparing remedial and enrichment lessons. 

Subsidies for needy students

.....There is government assistance to help high school students enroll in private schools where no public school exists or where there is excess enrolment in public schools. An annual subsidy of P1,700 per student is set aside for this purpose. There is also the 1999 tuition fee supplement program, which has P4.70 million to subsidize needy students in private schools to help them cope with tuition increases.

.....The school breakfast feeding program has been continued nationwide to address the malnutrition problem, particularly among grade one pupils. It has a budget of P7.3 million. A separate outlay of P12.3 million is for the school milk feeding program for first graders in selected public schools.

.....The non-formal education program for out-of-school youth, started in 1994 and continuing up to this year, has a budget of around P2 million.

Women, children, LGUs 

.....A continuing program for the "comprehensive and integrated" delivery of social services seeks to help target families and communities in addressing their "minimum" basic needs. It covers disadvantaged families with special focus on women, children, youth, people with disabilities, the elderly, and victims of natural and man-made disasters. Started in 1994, the program has an allocation of P500 million for this year. 

.....The Lingap para sa Mahirap program has P300 million to spend for "protective services" for children and youth, such as day care centers or child and youth crisis centers.

.....Finally, some P1.3 billion is being spent on livelihood and basic community infrastructure projects in selected local government units nationwide. 

(Continued tomorrow)