The Adopt-A-School Program, which started in 1998, was created to help generate investments and support to education outside the mainstream funding and the national budget. Under the program, legally instituted by the passage of Republic Act No. 8525 also known as “Adopt-a-School Act of 1998”, private entities, either local or overseas are given the opportunity to become partners in education through their assistance in the upgrading and modernizations of public elementary and high schools. In return, they are to enjoy additional tax incentives (150 percent) as they implement their project.
They are enjoined to support the schools in any of the following areas: infrastructure, health and nutrition, teaching skills development, computer and science lab equipment and learning support. The “Adopt-a-School Program” allows private entities to assist a public school, whether elementary, secondary, or tertiary, preferably located in any of the twenty (20) poorest provinces identified by the Presidential Council for Countryside Development or any other government agency tasked with identifying the poorest provinces. And if it is a foreign donation, the adopting private entity is exempted from tax/duty free entry of goods subject to some conditions as prescribed by the Secretariat and Coordinating Council.
According to this Act, any private individual, group, organization or institution can be a partners in education. There are, however, basic qualifications of participants to the Program. A private entity that intends to participate should have credible track record to be supported by a certificate of recognition with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).
The private entity should have been in existence for at least a year.
Furthermore, when a school is adopted, the Adopt-a-School Secretariat will facilitate the linkage between the adopting individual and the target school. The Secretariat will provide the adopting entity with different adoption packages and the list of prospective schools with their corresponding needs. The adopted school shall sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the adopting entity. The MOA shall specify the terms and conditions of the adoption including the tasks and responsibilities of the private entity and the school.
To ensure the implementation of the program, a review of the adoption shall be undertaken by the Local School Board (LSB) of the province or city where the school is located pursuant to the to the guidelines as maybe periodically issued by the Coordinating Council including but not limited to the delivery and utilization of proposed project, impact of proposed project on the school and the community in terms of social benefits, and participation of other stakeholders to support the project.
There was once a story of a dying father who asked his sons to get individual sticks and then break them. Puzzled they broke each one easily with nary an effort. The father then asked to bind them together and again break them. They found out that it was not as easily achieved as the previous task. Joined, the sticks are unbreakable and so, the sons realized, would they. They are much stronger together when they are together than they are apart. With the demand for public education in the secondary level growing at the rate of five percent a year, more than twice the population growth rate, it will only be a matter of time before high school students find themselves sitting on grass with the branches of a tree as their only protection from the rain. Even now, classrooms are already being used beyond its capacity. This is not only the manifestation of the growth in population but also the reflection of the hard times.
There is also a big shift in the enrollment from private education to public education. Because of the rising costs of living in the country, parents could no longer afford the tuition fees being charged. This has led to the sudden exodus of students from the private schools to government-run institutions. And as much as DepEd wants to provide public school students first class learning environment that they deserve, such task is enormous and difficult especially with the continuing problems in budgets and limited resources. As a result, government funded schools often experience shortage in about everything except the number of enrollees! With this impending threat, it is even more imperative for the Department of Education (DepEd) to source out ways to pull the plug. Thus the birth of a lucrative partnership that has since raised over P1 Billion worth of donations.
The Adopt-A-School Program, which started in 1998, was created to help generate investments and support to education outside the mainstream funding and the national budget. Education, a concept that would impact not only one municipality but the whole country, affecting not only this generation but the future ones as well, should not be left in the hands of the few but should be developed and cultivated by every Filipino in every way that they can. Basic education is too big and too important a task to leave to the government. Education, is the country’s answer to the growing problem of poverty. We do not only want to alleviate it but to totally eradicate it.
By focusing on the education, especially the education of young children, we might have a chance of making this work. Idealistic the statement might be, it is within reach if every Filipino will join hands and make an effort to instill change. And this is where the principle of volunteerism and participation for education comes in, the Adopt-A-School Program. In every endeavor, big or small, national or local, there is a need for the concerted effort of all concerned. No contribution is ever insignificant. No goal unattainable. Impossibilities are impossible to a nation that reaches for the stars together. United, the nation is unbreakable. With the Adopt-A-School Program all the stars in the sky can be reached.