The provincial government of Bulacan has been tackling the targets set under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by implementing programs that meet the needs of its basic sectors and special and vulnerable groups.
Unlike most Filipino provinces that suffer from insufficient funding, Bulacan, a province located in Central Luzon, is blessed with abundant resources. While ample resources do not guarantee that programs will have a positive impact on the lives of constituents.
Among the programs successfully implemented by the provincial government were programs that addressed the employment needs to released prison detainees and youth. Programs were also designed to revive cooperatives and improve gender mainstreaming. To ensure that programs would be successful and would meet the needs of the province’s citizens, the government pre-tested them before they were fully implemented. This process guaranteed that residents had the opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions to program managers on how they could improve their program’s efficiency and resource allocation.
The “Kaunlaran sa Pagkakaisa: Cooperative Development Program” revived the spirit of cooperativism, making the province a leader in cooperative development in the country. When the program was initiated in 1994, there were only 50 cooperatives in the province with assets of 50 million Philippine pesos, half of which were owned by one cooperative. The Program began a series of training sessions and established a revolving fund to cover start-up costs for groups interested in beginning cooperatives. A year after the program was implemented, Bulacan hosted the National Cooperative Summit, drawing other local governments to look into cooperativism as a means to help people learn self-reliance and fight poverty. Four years after the program was initiated, the number of cooperatives in the province mushroomed to 1,015 with combined assets estimated at 3.5 billion pesos.
The “Joint Systems Improvement in Education Project” or Project JOSIE, meanwhile, enabled significant improvement in both students’ and teachers’ performance in the “National Education Achievement Test” (NEAT).
The low NEAT scores of Bulacan’s children prompted the provincial government to launch an education program in all 496 schools in the province. Before this program was implemented, the average child’s NEAT score was 39.4% in Math and 40.23% in English. After implementation, the average NEAT English score rose to 76% in reading and 72% in comprehension. In math, the average NEAT score was 82% in computational skills and 71.5% in math problem comprehension skills. The program encouraged and harnessed the participation of the parents and the communities through workshops and conferences on learning and guidance necessary to students in the process of achievement. This educational program also received the Galing Pook Foundation’s 2005 “Top Ten Outstanding Local Government Programs” Award.
The “Lakas ng Kabataan sa Bulacan through the Provincial Youth Development Council,” a youth-centered development program, is a livelihood project that provides opportunities for out-of-school youth, new graduates and other non-working adults. The program provides vocational and technical training and job placement assistance to its beneficiaries. 16% of those who have participated in the program manage their own businesses now, while 76% chose jobs. The provincial government reported that the combined income of the youth and adult beneficiaries was estimated at 178.1 million pesos.
The “Reinventing Public Service” program streamlined local government bureaucracy and increased personnel productivity and savings for the Bulacan provincial government. These savings, in turn, were reinvested in service delivery mechanisms for the town’s citizens. Reformers implemented incentives and benefits for personnel productivity. To speed up service delivery, the government computerized provincial systems and procedures. To improve general job performance quality, training programs for both department managers and regular employees became mandatory.