Key Issues in Phil. Education

Literacy rate in the Philippines has improved a lot over the last few years- from 72 percent in 1960 to 94 percent in 1990. This is attributed to the increase in both the number of schools built and the level of enrollment in these schools.

The number of schools grew rapidly in all three levels – elementary, secondary, and tertiary. From the mid-1960s up to the early 1990, there was an increase of 58 percent in the elementary schools and 362 percent in the tertiary schools. For the same period, enrollment in all three levels also rose by 120 percent. More than 90 percent of the elementary schools and 60 percent of the secondary schools are publicly owned. However, only 28 percent of the tertiary schools are publicly owned.

A big percentage of tertiary-level students enroll in and finish commerce and business management courses. Table 1 shows the distribution of courses taken, based on School Year 1990-1991. Note that the difference between the number of enrollees in the commerce and business courses and in the engineering and technology courses may be small – 29.2 percent for commerce and business and 20.3 percent for engineering and technology. However, the gap widens in terms of the number of graduates for the said courses.

On gender distribution, female students have very high representation in all three levels. At the elementary level, male and female students are almost equally represented. But female enrollment exceeds that of the male at the secondary and tertiary levels . Also, boys have higher rates of failures, dropouts, and repetition in both elementary and secondary levels.

Aside from the numbers presented above, which are impressive, there is also a need to look closely and resolve the following important issues: 1) quality of education 2) affordability of education 3) goverment budget for education; and 4) education mismatch.

1. 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 National College of Entrance Examination for college students, were way below the target mean score.

2. 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.

3. Budget – The Philippine Constitution has mandated the goverment to allocate the highest proportion of its budget to education. However, the Philippines still has one of the lowest budget allocations to education among the ASEAN countries.

4. 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.

The following are some of the reforms proposed:

1. Upgrade the teachers’ salary scale. Teachers have been underpaid; thus there is very little incentive for most of them to take up advanced trainings.

2. 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.

3. 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, maybe more equitable.

4. 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.

5. 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.

Read more:
Woes of a FIlipino Teacher
Imagine yourself a Filipino teacher. Imagine yourself a teacher in a public school. Imagine yourself handling a class of 60 to 70 students. Imagine yourself handling two shifts of classes with 60 to 70 students.

Yes, it is a nightmare. And yes it happens in real life within the public school system. It is a manifestation of the two most prevalent problems in the educational system: lack of classrooms and lack of teachers.

In fairness, most private school teachers, especially those in small private schools, will admit that public school mentors earn more than they do. But even with the relatively higher wages, it does not seem to compensate for the daily travails of public school teachers.

The ideal ratio of teacher to student is 1:25. The less number of children handled by one mentor, the more attention can be given to each individual, especially if their learning competencies are not equal. With 25 students in a class, the teacher is likely to know each of her students, not only by face but by name and how they are actually performing in class.

But with 60 children in a classroom, it is a miracle how teachers are able to stay sane every single day. They hardly know their pupils, save for the excellent ones or unfortunately, the notorious. She does not even bother to remember them. How can she? Classrooms are cramped, if there are any at all. Many classes are held in makeshift rooms meaning a multi-purpose covered court with partitions where 4 or 5 classes are merely separated by thin plywood walls. With 60 kids north, east, south and west, it’s a wonder teachers can hear themselves over the din.

And how do you tailor lessons with so many competencies to consider? Often, the result is children are left to cope on their own. If they get the lesson, well and good. Otherwise, they are lucky to pass at the end of the year.

Yes, students are still divided into sections and they are grouped into the level of their academic skills. Which leaves those who are academically challenged lumped together and their teacher to stretch her skills, patience, resources and dedication to addressing the need of her students.

Resources are another matter. Many public school classrooms are equipped with the most basic of equipment: a blackboard, chalk and eraser. Some are fortunate to have visual aids, either donated or purchased by the school. But many times, a teacher will not only have to be creative, but will dig into her own pocket to produce the kind of materials she needs and wants to teach class.

It used to be that rolls of Manila paper were adequate to write down the lesson for the day. But this can get to be very expensive, especially if the lessons are long. And with a class so huge, children are barely able to see small handwriting from the back, so you need to write bigger, and use more paper. Children always welcome additional and unique visual aids, and woe to the teacher who has to create them if she wants her subject or lesson to be more interesting.

Which brings us to the budget for visual aids. It is non-existent, except if you choose to shell out on your own. Teachers still have to make ends meet. And often, their pay is simply not enough to cover their needs, as well as their families.

The Department of Education just announced that so many millions of pesos have been released for the construction and repair of classrooms around the country. I believe this will only cover those included in a priority list. But there are many more schools which lack classrooms, and more communities that lack schools.

When additional classrooms are built, will there be additional teachers? If new teachers will be hired, will there be a budget to support their wages?

It’s a never-ending cycle, because the government has yet to come up with a plan that will finally address these problems.

In the meantime, Ma’m or Sir will have to suffer through their public school experience.
Blast from the Past
My paternal grandparents were teachers. My father’s sister was also a teacher, and in fact, worked her way up the ranks to later become a public school principal. Since my grandparents have both passed on, my aunt and dad never fail to regale us with stories of how it was in public schools during their time.

If I remember correctly, everything was simplified. The curriculum was the basics or the 3 Rs — Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic. By the time children completed each year level, they would at least know how to read, write and do simple math, and progress a bit more after every grade level.

I say great! To my mind, armed with these skills, you can fend for yourself even at a young age because you’d understand simple written instructions, you can jot down important things, and you’d be a little savvy about simple trade.

Back then, they had simple books — ones that really honed a student’s skill by familiarizing him with the alphabet, phonetics and simple definitions. Unless you’ve mastered the addition table, you were nowhere near progressing to multiplication. And even if teachers ended up “terrorizing” their students or resorting to punishment, the bottomline was to inculcate in them the necessary skills to make them competent individuals in the future.

Sure they had books and notebooks but not enough to break a child’s back or dislocate the shoulders. They were the essentials. A pencil, some writing paper and a notebook or two were all they needed to come to class.

Boys were not exempt from home economics classes, which included learning to cook, sew, and keep house. Neither were girls excluded from practical arts classes which had them gardening, doing basic carpentry or even learning handyman skills.

It’s been quite some time since I, too, was in school. But I do recall that things weren’t as complicated as they are now — especially in the public school system here in the Philippines. Yet, the graduates that were produced could go toe-to-toe with children who were products of private schools. In fact, public school educated children were often better than their private school counterparts. The only difference is their economic status and the opportunities available to them.

So what went wrong? When had things become different? Why did they suddenly change a system that was working?

I’ll have to keep looking…
More to Enlighten You
Just so you know, I’m not ranting alone…
Bulatlat in the Filipino language means to thoroughly look into. And there are various organizations that do this, especially in areas of public concern like education.

An Insider’s View
The problems according to a public school teacher
The problems besetting the Philippine educational system are not lost among those who are in the system themselves. Mr. Gilbert M. Forbes is a Head Teacher in elementary based in the Pitogo District Division of Quezon province. I don’t know the man, but I think he is truly an educator because he is willing to face the problems, and even better, help find ways to address them.

Based from his experience, he lists the most pressing concerns in the public school system that must be addressed if people are serious about putting things in order:

1)Development of Instructional Materials particularly in core subjects. Teachers not only need training in the preparation and development of instructional materials, but they must also be given financial support to produce these. Instructional Materials include modules, standardized validated rating, achievement and diagnostic tests viz qualitative one’s.

I’m not a school teacher, but I do know the difficulties faced by mentors just to prepare lesson plans, visual aids and examinations for their students. More often than not, they are forced to use their own resources (money and otherwise) just to have these available to better teach their classes. How can we actually expect them to come up with instructional materials that will truly be of help to students if they are not properly equipped to develop them, and worse, not have the necessary resources to create these?

The backlog in books has been reduced tremendously but textbooks still don’t contain enough exercises and testing materials that teachers can use for their daily instruction. As a result, most of the time, the teacher is required to write all the exercises on the board that eat up class hours. Otherwise, they opt not to give exercises at all.

If the teacher isn’t going to provide exercises, how can students practice what is taught them? The education department continues to receive an increase in the yearly allocation. Unfortunately, the ratio of books to students remains insufficient to this day. Many pupils have to share books, how can they be expected to do exercises and hone their skills?

2) The system of promotion within the ranks needs to be overhauled. To date, what is prevalent is the “Palakasan System, Utang na Loob and Pakikisama System.”

Generally, this refers to a system where what matters are the people you know, especially the powers-that-be, the people who owe you favors, and the clique you belong to. If you meet any one of these criteria, you are almost assured of getting a promotion, never mind if you are not qualified for it.

In Mr. Forbes’ opinion, it is high time that the teachers’ ranks be professionalized from top-to-bottom akin to the corporate world. Promotions should be solely based on merit. Because with the present system, many of those who rise in rank “don’t necessarily have the guts to become an educational leader.”

Many are just after the salary increase and most of all of the prestige that goes with being a school manager! The worst is, these mentors are not really concerned and dedicated enough to initiate reforms to improve the system.

While it is true that a teacher’s salary is not commensurate to the workload, a real educator will still lead by example and exert 101% effort in everything he or she does.

It has been said time and again that teaching is a noble profession, and it certainly is. But this nobility is lost if there is no commitment and dedication to go with the job. There is great responsibility in being a teacher because in their hands lie the future of young people.

3) Teacher Training and Development. In spite the number of people pursuing a degree in education, very few are actually equipped with the necessary competence in specific learning areas that they are supposed to excel in. According to Mr. Forbes, observations are that except for education graduates from CHED designated centers of excellence, many would be teachers are deficient in subject matters.

And this results in overworking some mentors who are well-trained and educated because they are forced to take up the shortcomings of their peers.

Educating through Videos
Catch glimpses of what children have to cope with to be educated in the Philippines.

24 Oras – Sorry State of Public Schools in the Philippines

Video & Info. Source:


One response to “Key Issues in Phil. Education

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s