HEAP aims to wipe out backlogs, improve RP's education system
Determined to improve the country's public education system and wipe out backlogs in school infrastructures, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.)pushes his proposal creating the Health and Education Acceleration Program (HEAP) Corporation.
"Year after year, the Department of Education (DepEd) has been confronted with the same problems of old, dilapidated and overcrowded classrooms, overworked teachers who handle oversized classes, very few principals, and quite limited resources for learning," he said.
Gordon stressed that the country needs a comprehensive bailout plan to improve public education system and to ably compete with the rest of the world.
"We used to have the best public education system in Asia, now we have been trailing far behind and have long been overtaken by neighboring Asian countries," he said.
Records of the DepEd show that the country's public school system lacks at least 9,000 classrooms, four million seats, 63 million textbooks, 39,000 teachers and 8,000 principals. To fill these gaps alone, the government would need at least P23 billion.
Gordon said that his proposal, Senate Bill 2402, seeks to create a HEAP Corporation, which would spearhead the rehabilitation and improvement of health and education infrastructures in the country.
Called by some sectors who support it as the "Text-for-Change bill", it envisions the creation of a fund to: rapidly fill up shortages in the public education system as well as upgrade learning facilities; implement a health and nutrition program for public school students; and, increase remuneration of public school teachers.
The senator pointed out that while the country's public education system has been suffering from a crippling number of inadequacies for decades, the telecommunications industry has rapidly grown within the same period.
From just 30,000 subscribers in the 1990s, there are now 72 million cellular phone users.
"These telecommunications companies grew exponentially because of the millions of Filipinos who used their services. It is just right that they give back in a manner substantial enough that it will end our problems with public education," Gordon said.
Under the HEAP proposal, telcos would remit a portion of their total revenues arising from local text messaging to the HEAP Corporation..
"There are approximately two billion text messages sent a day. If we get 10 percent, that would be P200 million a day and P73 billion a year. That is more than enough to fill up all the gaps in health and education infrastructures in a year's time," Gordon said.
The senator explained that as an effect, this measure will not only improve the education and health care systems of the country, but also pump prime the economy by generating more jobs and livelihood.
"If we start building all the schools our country lacks, we will be in need of more carpenters and masons, therefore generating more jobs for our people. We will hire more workers and boost the hardware business because they will be the suppliers of construction materials, and we could end up pump priming our economy overnight," Gordon said.
"We must realize the many benefits that we would gain once this bill is passed into law. It will benefit not only the citizens of today but also the generations of the future," he added.