Some 10 million copies of textbooks have already been distributed by the Department of Education (DepEd) in 19,000 public elementary and secondary schools nationwide.
The President assured that all public school students would have textbooks for the priority subjects in grades I to IV, and in the first and second years of high school.
Constructing More School Buildings
To date, the government has constructed 1, 612 school buildings in barangays unserved by nearby schools. Some 555 schoolhouses will be completed within the next few weeks.
The President has directed DepEd to design classrooms within the P250,000 budget so that the government can build more classrooms throughout the country, especially in remote barangays.
The President has allocated P40 million for the construction of new classrooms in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Restoring English as Medium of Instruction
To prepare the succeeding generations to be globally competitive, the President has directed DepEd to adopt measures that would reverse reported declines in English literacy among Filipinos.
Implementing the Basic Education Curriculum (BEC)
Another priority area is the upgrading of the teaching of Mathematics and Science in basic education to prepare the youth to be the next generation of knowledge workers.
The revised BEC has been implemented since June 2002 and now focuses on the five learning areas of English, Science, Math, Filipino and Makabayan from the previous eight per Grade/ Year level.
The teaching of science has been given an extended time allotment from 300 minutes to 400 minutes each week to promote the culture of science among students. The number of hours of Mathematics laboratory has likewise been increased.
About 600,000 teachers from both private and public schools have been trained on the new curriculum. A linear, sequential approach in teaching math is being adopted by secondary school teachers to facilitate mastery of basic math principles.
Improving Teacher Welfare
The DepEd has succeeded in improving teacher welfare by cleaning up its automatic payroll deduction systems (APDS) for teachers with loans.
Acting on cases brought to her attention during dialogues and personal visits, the President has ordered a thorough investigation on the alleged influence peddling in the processing of retirement benefits of government teachers.
The government has hired an additional of 15,000 new teachers as a result of the supplemental budget acquired from Congress last year.
Sparing Public School Teachers from the “vagaries of politics”
The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) would start the computerization of the tabulation and counting of ballots in the 2004 national elections, thus sparing public school teachers from this tedious task and preventing them from being involved in politics.
Mainstreaming Distance Learning
Initially available in 20 barangays in various parts of the country for the last two years, the Strong Republic Grade School or the government’s distance learning program has expanded to include more depressed villages in the Visayas and Mindanao.
The project, aimed at extending the benefits of education to remote barangays that do not have classrooms and teachers , has made schooling available through television facilities put up in areas where quality of education is very low.
In areas where television cannot reach them, the students are taught through “technovans,” which house a television set and instructional materials in reading, writing and arithmetic.
Enrollees are required to take a qualifying exam to determine their entry point in the program which encompasses distance learning modules.
In Maguindanao, distance-learning facilities have been set up in major evacuation camps in war-torn areas like Pagalungan and Pagagawan.
Non-government groups particularly corporate foundations have supported the program, donating some of the available 1,500 long distance learning equipment for grade schools.
Launching the Internet-based Education Program
In support of the national effort to empower and prepare the youth for the Information Age, the ed. venture program has already built 15 fully equipped, Internet-connected and fully air-conditioned computer laboratories in public schools nationwide.