Edu. Issues:In Retrospect

They say that education is the best social leveler. They say that it is the very answer to poverty, corruption, hate, and ignorance. If it really is like many people believe it is, then the study of the key educational, ergo curricular, issues in the Philippines is a significant endeavor that needs serious pair of eyes, ears and hands.

According to the IBON Facts and Figures, the literacy rate in the Philippines has regressed a lot over the last ten years. This is attributed to the dwindling quality, relevance and accessibility of education—the very basic rights of the Filipino youth as etched vividly in the Constitution.

Despite the good things that Department of Education has reported such as the increased number of classrooms and students, the fact remains that the crowding 1:70 classroom ratio, the decreasing aptitude of students and the decadence of the values of the young, among hundreds others, hamper the progress of the state of education of the country.

From, education in the Philippines may be summarized into the following four issues: 1. Quality of education, 2. Affordability of Education, 3. Government budget for education, and 4. Education mismatch.

Quality–There was a decline in the quality of the Philippine education, especially at the elementary and secondary levels. For example, the results of standard tests conducted among elementary and high school students, as well as in the NCAE and Board Exams for college students, were way below the target mean score.
Affordability–There is also a big disparity in educational achievements across social groups. For example, the socioeconomically disadvantaged students have higher dropout rates, especially in the elementary level. And most of the freshmen students at the tertiary level come from relatively well-off families.
Budget–The Philippine Constitution has mandated the government to allocate the highest proportion of its budget to education. However, the Philippines still has one of the lowest budget allocations among the ASEAN countries. This, not to mention the corruption component in the same institution that must abhor such act.
Mismatch–There is a large proportion of “mismatch” between training and actual jobs. This is the major problem at the tertiary level and it is also the cause of the existence of a large group of educated unemployed or underemployed. Here, also to consider is the degenerating educational mindset of working abroad or of working for employment no matter what it takes, with no regard to other more valuable intentions like social work, inventiveness and entrepreneurship leading to public service and better self-actualization.
The following are some of the reforms proposed:

Upgrade the teachers’ salary scale. Teachers have been underpaid; thus there is very little incentive for most of them to take up advanced trainings.
Amend the current system of budgeting for education across regions, which is based on participation rates and units costs. This clearly favors the more developed regions. There is a need to provide more allocation to lagging regions to narrow the disparity across regions.
Stop the current practice of subsidizing state universities and colleges to enhance access. This may not be the best way to promote equity. An expanded scholarship program, giving more focus and priority to the poor but deserving, maybe more equitable.
Get all the leaders in business and industry to become actively involved in higher education; this is aimed at addressing the mismatch problem. In addition, carry out a selective admission policy, i.e., installing mechanisms to reduce enrollment in oversubscribed courses and promoting enrollment in undersubscribed ones.
Develop a rationalized apprenticeship program with heavy inputs from the private sector. Furthermore, transfer the control of technical training to industry groups which are more attuned to the needs of business and industry.
The macro-level educational issues and concerns above can be better understood when the micro-level concerns—mainly curriculum issues—are put into the equation. This way, people can understand the state of education more and eventually face and nip the problems in the bud.

Curriculum managers and educational experts are always looking for better ways to achieve better learning through teaching. However, since curriculum innovations seemed to be difficult for many, issues and concerns have been raised about curricular innovations. The newness of the idea to the users raises issues which need to be addressed. Certain aspects need to be clarified in order to overcome the attitude and feelings that create some concerns.

Perter Oliva’s Developing the Curriculum (Seventh Edition) reveals 12 curriculum issues. These are 1. Academic Area Initiatives, 2. Alternative Schools, 3. Bilingual/Bicultural Education, 4. Censorship, 5. Gender, 6. Health Education, 7. Diversity, 8. Privatization, 9. Provision for Exceptionalities, 10. Religion in Public Education, 11. Scheduling Arrangements, and 12. Standards and Assessment

Clearly, there is no discrete separation in these twelve categories. On one sense, they are all interrelated and bear close relationship with each other. Some items enumerated, however may not be fit for the Filipino audience.

In the Curriculum Development book of Purita Bilbao et al., it enumerates a number of fitter and more relevant Curricular Issues and Concerns.

Poor Academic Performance of Learners. How does he performance of learners relate to the curriculum? Our basic education curriculum was prepared by experts in the field of curriculum making and the subject specialization. The written or intended curriculum is well crafted and all elements of the curriculum are considered. But why are Filipino learners lagging behind from their counterparts the southeast in the TIMMS? Why can’t our schools significantly raise the level of performance of the learners’ vis-à-vis national standards? Issues on the varied implementation of the curriculum among schools and teachers seem to be one of the reasons for the prevailing low performance of schools all over the country. There is perennial complaint about books and other instructional materials. Overcrowded classrooms do not provide a good learning environment. In addition, the teacher has been identified as one of the influencing factors in the varied implementation of the curriculum. Issues like ill prepared teachers, poor attitude towards change and low morale have been thrown to teachers. Leadership support to an effective implementation of the curriculum. Perhaps if these are not addressed, then the outcome of the curriculum which is academic performance if schools will be low.
No Sense of Ownership. Most of the curricular innovations are handed down from the top management. Those who are going to implement simply tow the line or follow blindly. Sometimes the implementers lack full understanding of the change or modifications that they are doing. The goal is unclear, thus there are a lot of questions in the implementation as well as evaluation from the concerned persons. Because of this concern, there is little support that comes from the stakeholders. They just leave the school to do it on their own, thus giving the classroom teacher a burden.
Curricular Bandwagons Only. In the desire of some schools to be part of the global educational scenario, changes and innovations are drastically implemented even if the school is not ready. Some schools for example implement a curriculum that is technology-dependent when there is not enough computers in the classroom. There are no internet connections either. How can correct and apt scientific experimentations happen if there are no laboratory tools, equipment or chemicals in the first place? But they have to show that they are also keeping abreast of the development even if their equipment are insufficient.

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