MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines needs to increase investment in school infrastructure as the country continues to lag behind and the widening gap impacts student learning outcomes.
In a working paper, the public think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said existing problems in the basic education sector highlight the need for more investment in school infrastructure, especially in the context of the pandemic.
Adoracion Navarro, senior researcher at PIDS, said a public-private partnership (PPP) could accelerate investment in school infrastructure.
“Both the public and private sectors must take responsibility for improving the learning environment for students through better and adequate school infrastructure,” Navarro said.
“A good learning environment is a good investment. This translates into better student learning outcomes today and increased worker productivity in the future. It is an important component of human capital development, which in turn is an important driver of endogenous economic growth,” she said.
Based on the PIDS study, spatial inequality in the classroom-to-student ratio still exists even though progress in decongesting schools has been made.
Additional classrooms are also needed as school buildings in some remote areas do not meet quality and safety standards, enrollment increases and existing classrooms deteriorate due to wear and tear. calamities.
When it comes to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities, Navarro said the gaps are huge and become more visible when compared to other countries.
Pre-pandemic data showed that only 47% of schools in the Philippines had access to basic drinking water service, 39% to basic sanitation service and 54% had access to basic hygiene services.
“Programs at WASH facilities need to be scaled up to support disinfection and prevention of disease transmission,” Navarro said.
She noted that the private sector can either develop low-cost technologies that can meet the demands of schools facing cost constraints due to geography or the socio-economic characteristics of their location, or partner with schools. in demonstrating corporate social responsibility practices that integrate WASH projects and programs for the health and well-being of the future workforce.
Another infrastructural constraint in Philippine schools is the lack of access to electricity. Unfortunately, in the region, the country is one of those which has not yet achieved universal access to electricity for schools.
Navarro said this challenge is compounded by the need to improve school electrical connections to stabilize fluctuations in electrical current and meet digital learning requirements.
In addition, access to information and communication technologies (ICT) is another area where there are huge gaps.
Filipino schools have low rates of computer and internet access, unlike many neighboring countries. Efforts to increase access rates have also been marred by poor implementation of ICT infrastructure programs in schools.
As a solution, Navarro said that the PPP mode could be considered again to meet future demand for school infrastructure, but that a full assessment of needs and options for investment and financing should be available.