Financially Disadvantaged but Academically Able

“Yet, as with all new programs, there is a need to safeguard the proper implementation of the provision of free tuition fee. It is important to underscore that we must give priority to financially disadvantaged but academically able students,”  said Philippines president Duterte as he signed the budget for 2017. This change is certainly a step in the right direction, but it still misses the fact that financial disadvantage is a primary factor in weaker learning outcomes in basic education. A significant number of poor children are academically challenged. Basic education gets a boost in next year's budget in terms of chalk allowances for teachers, but the Philippines still lacks measures similar to those of the United States that provide special funding to schools attended mostly by poor children.

Above copied from ABS-CBN
Basic education can benefit from programs in higher education if resources to train teachers especially in math and the sciences are provided. Focusing the additional funds to these areas is necessary to address the problems in elementary and high school education. Financially disadvantaged students who are interested in pursuing a career in teaching or research should be considered as top priority. Instead of spending the funds for all, one can then augment the tuition scholarship with stipends or cost of living allowances. These additional support are imperative especially for poor students who not only have difficulties paying tuition, but also find transportation, clothing and food as real daily challenges. 

President Duterte, unlike Congress, seems to understand priorities. We can only hope that he continues in the years to come. Good job and a happy new year.