Sen. Panfilo "Ping" M. Lacson on Monday batted for additional school facilities and teachers in Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea, after learning of the plight of learners there when he visited the area last weekend.
Lacson also pushed for added benefits for teachers, as the island has only one elementary school and two teachers catering to 34 students coming from 54 households, with the students having little hope of a high school education.
"I think this is a cause for concern. After Grade 6, wala na, tapos na, wala nang kinabukasan ang bata (After Grade 6, the students won't have any more opportunity to get higher education that will give them a chance at a better future)," he said during the deliberations for the 2022 budget of the Department of Education.
He noted the nearest place for the students to study high school is Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, which will take more than a day to reach.
Lacson proposed that the government put up a high school building or integrate the high school facilities with the existing building; and hire at least one multigrade teacher who can teach kindergarten to high school.
Also, Lacson sought the DepEd's commitment for a Special Hardship Allowance (SHA) for the two teachers in Pagasa Island, noting this can be taken from the budget for the Last Mile Schools program.
He said that since the DepEd's circular does not allow a teacher to receive SHA for two more categories, the two teachers at Pag-asa Island are given only one hardship allowance per year - yet they experience more than one factor of difficulty - difficulties in travel and in teaching, as well as in access to amenities.
They also fall into two categories of eligibility for SHA - located in hardship posts and multi-grade teachers.
Lacson has been pushing for an "Edukasyon Plus" program to break the cycle of poverty that has hounded many Filipino families. The program aims to keep youths in school - and give them a better chance at improving their lot.
"Edukasyon Plus" also provides free tuition and a monthly allowance of P5,000 for the period of internship for qualified senior high school students (Grades 11 and 12) who enter a government internship program.
Earlier, Lacson pushed for an emergency employment program that includes paid internships for youths in the government and private sector. This aims to harness the skills of young Filipinos while giving them a chance to improve their skills.