July 13, 2022
Business Advocacy Groups Bare Agenda for First 100 Days of Marcos Admin: Prioritize Nutrition and Education!

Philippine Business for Education (PBEd), Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), and Makati Business Club (MBC) bare their policy wishlist for the Marcos administration and the Congress

Business Advocacy Groups Bare Agenda for First 100 Days of Marcos Admin: Prioritize Nutrition and Education!

MAKATI, July 13, 2022 - As the nation awaits the first State of Nation Address at the opening of the 19th Congress on July 25, Philippine Business for Education (PBEd), Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), and Makati Business Club (MBC) bare their policy wishlist for the Marcos administration and the Congress in driving inclusive economic growth for the country.

In a forum attended by the country’s top CEOs, the business sector, civil society groups, and international humanitarian agencies, the three business advocacy groups lay out in a joint statement their plans of action to achieve shared prosperity through policy reforms in nutrition and education.

“Investing in the nutrition and education of our youth is an economic imperative. We need to build strong human capital to drive productivity and inclusive economic growth,” said Dr. Chito B. Salazar, President of PBEd.

In the face of high and accelerating inflation that renders most families unable to afford food and send children to school, data from the World Bank and UNICEF further show nutrition and education in the country is in deep crisis. Even decades before the pandemic, a third of Filipino children below age five are stunted or too short for their age. The Philippines is also among the top 10 countries all over the world with the highest number of stunted children. Stunting in children has adverse consequences which includes poor cognition, language and sensory-motor capacities, and school performance, and, eventually, low adult wages and lost productivity. On the other hand, according to the World Bank, a Filipino child with optimal nutrition will have greater cognitive development, stay longer and learn more in school, and have a brighter future as an adult.

With this, PBSP calls for policies that would guarantee access to safe, affordable, and nutritious food, and expansion of economic opportunities for vulnerable households, particularly for at-risk mothers and children. To ensure food security, farmers must also be empowered with resources and technology towards improved yield, efficiency, and resilience.

“What businesses can do in addressing poverty is to provide jobs. It is incumbent upon businesses to raise their investments because more jobs bring more income to people. Businesses must also make a serious effort in investing in agriculture. Our role is to enable our people to feed themselves and send their kids to school,” said PBSP Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan.

As for education, learning poverty in the Philippines or the measure of children unable to read and understand a simple passage by age 10 continues to be at alarming levels of 90%. 2018 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) results also show the Philippines performing poorest out of 79 countries in reading, and second-lowest for mathematics and science.

With the current education system deteriorating as the pandemic and school closures drag on, learning and productivity losses continue to hurt the future economy. No less than the socioeconomic planning secretary Arsenio Balisacan said that the scarring on human capital may not be felt by the country now, but will definitely affect the future of the children when they eventually join the labor market years from now. According to Sec. Balisacan, they will not be as competitive as neighboring countries who have already opened up and provided better access to education.

“This is why we need to take our learning crisis seriously. If we want learning for all, we should commit to “all for learning.” We implore our new administration to make effective learning a serious goal in its first 100 days. In drawing up their all-inclusive plan for economic transformation, I call on them to make investment in our human capital their first order of business.” said PBEd Chairman Ramon R. del Rosario Jr.

Key strategies that PBEd proposes include ensuring all learners have access to quality pre-Kindergarten to Grade 3 education and developmental programs such as daycare, tutorials or remediation and year-long feeding programs. To make sure that all learners meet basic skills based on international standards, teacher quality must also be improved through better teacher training and support. Finally, there must also be access to lifelong learning opportunities for adults to stay competitive.

As the new administration navigates a myriad of crises, PBEd, PBSP, and MBC put forward an all-hands-on-deck approach to making the system work for our current and future learners and workforce so that they can live a prosperous life and contribute to national economic recovery and development. With this, public-private partnerships are crucial as well as strengthened autonomy of local governments for nutrition-centric governance and delivery of education services.

“We need to shock our country about this crisis, to give a sense of urgency which will mobilize all sectors of society. There is no other country that has done so much during the pandemic as our civil society has done. Together with the government, national and local, business sectors, and the church, we will succeed in overcoming this crisis,” said MBC Chairman Edgar O. Chua.

Signifying their commitment, PBEd, PBSP, and MBC are counting on the new administration’s call for unity by working together to ensure healthy and educated Filipinos to drive the nation towards shared prosperity.

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