Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA3656 2006-08-31 09:43 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Manila
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #3656 2430943
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 310943Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2753
INFO RUEHZS/ASEAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS MANILA 003656
FOR PEACE CORPS, USAID
FOR ECA, EAP
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EPET PGOV EAID SCUL RP
SUBJECT: NEW SECRETARY OF EDUCATION EMPHASIZES STRONGER MANAGEMENT AND ENGLISH-LANGUAGE TRAINING
¶1. Summary. President Arroyo’s impressive new Education Secretary
outlined his priorities and received a briefing on USG support for
education in the Philippines during a call on Charge August 28.
Given President Arroyo’s strong desire to improve English-language
education to enhance Philippine competitiveness, the Embassy has
formed a working group to develop synergies between USAID, Public
Diplomacy, and Peace Corps programs, supported by the American
Chamber of Commerce and other private sector organizations. End
¶2. During an initial office call between Charge and Department of
Education (DepEd) officials on August 28, new Education Secretary
Lapus highlighted four areas he would welcome further USG support
collaboration. Secretary Lapus started the discussion by
underscoring that DepEd needs to improve its management. According
to Secretary Lapus, “billions of pesos have been spent on studies.
[DepEd] knows what the problems are; we know what the solutions are.
We just need to implement them, but that takes effective
management.” Some studies advocate decentralization and
“school-based management.” The Secretary stated that management and
fiscal reforms were his top priorities. However, he opined for that
approach to work, principals and other local-level administrators
need management training.
¶3. The Secretary discussed the problem of declining English
language skills. He noted that 80 percent of public high school
teachers admit they are not proficient in English. Moreover, while
other countries in Asia are strengthening their capacity in English,
language skills are decaying in the Philippines. Peace Corps
Country Director relayed the desire to expand training for Filipino
English teachers and place volunteers in positions where their
English language skills will be optimally utilized. CAO noted that
an expert in Teaching of English as a Second Language will be placed
in DepEd as part of the English Language Fellow Program. USAID
Director noted that USAID’s education support program has been
extended through 2011 and total funding has increased from $35
million to $85 million.
Electricity for Schools
¶4. Population growth and the movement of pupils from private to
public schools (due to the cost of education at the former) have
resulted in severe overcrowding. DepEd’s short-term strategy is to
have students attend either morning or afternoon classes. However,
a significant number of schools have not implemented the two shift
system because they do not have electricity. USAID Director noted
extensive USG support for rural electrification that is enabling
growing numbers of students to study at night.
¶5. Secretary Lapus urged USAID to revive the “school feeding”
program active in 1960s-70s. DepEd officials said that when children
come to school hungry, it affects their ability to learn. USAID
Director noted that this program does receive some limited support
through the U.S. Department of Agriculture PL-480 program.
¶6. President Arroyo described to Senator Inouye at a recent dinner
how she selected Secretary Lapus to lead the largest and most
challenging Department due to his management acumen and proven
success. He is the fifth Secretary of Education in the last six
years, but told us that he plans to far outlast his predecessors.
Secretary Lapus has a background in business and government, serving
for three terms as a member of the Philippine House of
Representatives (1998-2007), Under Secretary of Agrarian Reforms
(1987), as the President and CEO of the Land Bank of the Philippines
(1992-1998). Lapus earned his Masters in Business Management from
the Asian Institute of Management and Doctorate in Public
Administration from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
He completed post-graduate studies at Harvard University, INSEAD in
France, and the University of California.