SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
WITH an overwhelming 282 votes, the House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading a bill that aims to improve the literacy rate of Filipinos.
House Bill (HB) No. 7414 renames the Literacy Coordinating Council, created under Republic Act No. 7165, to National Literacy Council, strengthens its powers and functions, and expands its membership and support mechanisms.
Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said the present law has to be strengthened to achieve its purpose of equipping every Filipino with fundamental literacy competency.
“Many of us, especially the poor in rural and remote communities, lack the means to acquire formal education. We have to reach out to these sectors of our population so that at least, they will learn how to read and write,” he said.
“They should be provided with basic communication skills, even in their own native languages, through informal learning programs. No one should be left behind in improving their lives,” said.
Under the measure, with the short title of “National Literacy Council Act,” the council shall serve as the lead inter-agency coordinating and advisory body to concerned national agencies, local government units (LGUs), and the private sector in the formulation of policies and measures for the universalization of literacy.
The body shall be attached to the Department of Education (DepEd).
It shall be composed of the education secretary as chairperson, the secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, National Economic and Development Authority director general, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority director general, Commission on Higher Education chairperson, Philippine Information Agency chief, Philippine Normal University president, head of the Philippine Statistics Authority, and Bureau of Alternative Education (BAE) director as members.
Representatives from relevant non-government groups and associations of private educational institutions shall also sit on the council.
Among its other functions, the council would be tasked to evaluate the literacy situation in the country, propose ways and means for expanding educational opportunities to citizens, and adopt modern communications and educational technology and other innovative modes of transmitting knowledge to support literacy programs at the national and local levels.
It would also be mandated to support the learning activities of LGUs and civil society organizations.
It shall coordinate closely with the BAE in the implementation of alternative learning system programs, projects, and activities among out-of-school youth and adults, persons with disability, indigenous people, and other marginal sectors of the population.
It shall establish local literacy councils to promote literacy at the community level.
LGUs may be authorized to use a portion of their special education fund for implementing literary programs, projects, and activities.
The council is required to submit a detailed annual report to the Senate committee on basic education, arts and culture, and the House committee on basic education and culture.
Initial funding shall be borne by DepEd, which shall include future requirements in its annual budget proposal.
The proposed National Literacy Council law is based largely on a bill filed by Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo, who chairs the House committee on basic education and culture.
The measure would repeal RA 7165. (END)