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Education in the Philippines

Education in the Philippines

Department of Education Commission on Higher Education Secretary of Education Chairwoman of Higher Education Armin Luistro Patricia B. Licuanan

National education budget (2011 - 2012) Budget PH 192,087,000,000 General Details Primary Languages English, Filipino

System Type

National 21 January 1901 Enrollment (2011 - 2012)


25,700,000 (Primary and secondary only)

A photograph of a tarpaulin showing the different shifts for students in H. Bautista Elementary School in Marikina, Metro Manila. Starting in the 2010-11 school year, different year levels are given different class hours and are scheduled to go to school in different shifts to compensate the lack of school buildings, teachers and materials. Historically, in the past, the Philippines was a pioneer in many aspects regarding education in Asia. The oldest universities, colleges,vocational schools and the first modern public education system in Asia were created during the colonial periods. In 1899 one author said when Spain was replaced by the United States as the colonial power, Filipinos were among the most educated subjects in all of Asia. However, Philippine education is no longer the leader in Asia, and is slipping further behind most Asian countries as is shown by its failure to educate about one third of its elementaryaged population. During the period of governance by the United States, Education in the Philippines changed radically, modeled on the system ofeducation in the United States of the time. After gaining independence in 1946, changes in the US system were no longer automatically reflected in the Philippines, which has since moved in various directions of its own. Filipino children may enter public school at about age four, starting from nursery up to kindergarten. At about seven years of age, children enter elementary school for six or seven years. This is followed by secondary school, also called as high school, for four years. Students may then sit for College Entrance Examinations (CEE), after which they may enter tertiary institutions for three to five years. There are other types of schools such as private schools, preparatory schools, International schools, laboratory high schools andscience high schools. Several foreign ethnic groups, including Chinese, British, Americans, Koreans, and Japanese operate their own schools. Though elementary schooling is compulsory, latest official figures show 27.82% of Filipino elementary-aged children either never attend or never complete elementary schooling, usually due to the absence of any school in their area, education being

offered in a language that is foreign to them, or financial distress. In July 2009 DepEd acted to overcome the foreign language problem by ordering all elementary schools to move towards mother-tongue based learning initially. The order allows two alternative three-year bridging plans. Depending on the bridging plan adopted, the Filipino and English languages are to be phased in as the language of instruction for other subjects beginning in the third and fourth grades. Secondary schooling is of four years duration. Although secondary schooling is compulsory, some Philippine news media have reported that since the 2000s, many Filipino students who began studying at private high schools, are forced to transfer to public high schools because of increasing cost of living and private school fees and financial distress. Many public elementary/high schools in the country are already overcrowded. The school year in the Philippines starts in June of one year and ends in March of the next, with a two-month break during April and May, a one week semester break during the last week of October), and a week or two of Christmas break. In 2005, the Philippines spent about US$138 per pupil compared to US$1,582 in Singapore, US$3,728 in Japan, and US$852 inThailand.[6]

History and development

Earlier times
Further information: Ancient Philippine scripts In pre-Spanish times, education was informal unstructured in some areas. Children were provided more vocational training and less academics (3 Rs) by their parents and in the houses of tribal tutors. When the Spanish arrived in Manila, though, they were

surprised to find a population with a literacy rate using a system of writing known as baybayin which was higher than the literacy rate of Madrid.

Spanish period
Main article: Philippines education during Spanish rule Under the Spanish, education of indigenous population was initially left to religious orders, with primary education being overseen by parish friars who generally tolerated the teaching of only religious topics. The friars, recognizing the value of a literate indigenous population, built printing presses to produce material in Baybayin.[7] The friars, made tremendous efforts to educate the native population learning the local languages and the Baybayinscript to better communicate with the locals. The Spanish missionaries established schools immediately on reaching the islands and wherever they penetrated, church and school went together. There was no Christian village without its school and all young people attended. The Augustinians opened a school in Ceb in 1565. The Franciscans in 1577 immediately took to the task of teaching the natives how to read and write, besides industrial and agricultural techniques. The Jesuits in 1581 also mainly concentrated on teaching the young. They were followed by theDominicans in 1587, who started a school in their first mission at Bataan. The Chinese language version of the Doctrina Christiana (Christian Doctrine) was the first book printed in the Philippines in about 1590 to 1592. A version in Spanish, and in Tagalog, in both Latin script and the commonly used Baybayin script of the Manila Tagalogs of the time was printed in 1593.[11] In 1610 Tomas Pinpin a Filipino printer, writer and publisher, who is sometimes referred as the "Patriarch of Filipino Printing", wrote his famous "Librong Pagaaralan nang mga Tagalog nang Wicang Castila", that was meant to help Filipinos learn the Spanish language. The prologue read: "Let us therefore study, my country men, for although the art of learning is somewhat difficult, yet if we are persevering, we shall soon improve our knowledge. Other Tagalogs like us did not take a year to learn the Spanish language when using my book. This good result has given me satisfaction and encouraged me to print my work, so that all may derive some profit from it."[12]

In 1590, the Universidad de San Ignacio was founded in Manila by the Jesuits, and after the suppression of the Jesuits was incorporated into theUniversity of Santo Toms as the College of Medicine and Pharmacy.[13] In 1640, the Universidad de San Felipe de

Austria was established in Manila. It is the first government or public university in the Philippines. The University of San Ildefonso was founded in Ceb by the Society of Jesus in August 1, 1595 but was closed down after the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1769. On April 28, 1611, the University of Santo Toms was founded inManila as the Colegio de Nuestra Seora del Santsimo Rosario. By the end of the 16th century, several religious orders had established charity hospitals all over the archipelago and provided the bulk of this public service. These hospitals also became the setting for rudimentary scientific research work on pharmacy and medicine. The Jesuits also founded the Colegio de San Jos (1601) and took over the management in what became Escuela Municipal (1859, later renamed Ateneo Municipal de Manila in 1865). The Dominicans on their part had the Colegio de San Juan de Letrn (1620) in Manila Access to education by all Filipinos was later implemented through the enactment of the Educational Decree of 1863 which provided for the establishment of at least one primary school for boys and girls in each town under the responsibility of the municipal government; and the establishment of a normal school for male teachers under the supervision of the Jesuits. Primary instruction was free and available to every Filipino regardless of race or social class. Contrary to what the Propaganda of the Spanish American War tried to depict, they were not religious schools, but schools established, supported and maintained by the Spanish Government. And free and the teaching of Spanish was compulsory. In 1866, the total population of the Philippines was only 4,411,261. The total public schools was 841 for boys and 833 for girls and the total number of children attending these schools was 135,098 for boys and 95,260 for girls. In 1892, the number of schools had increased to 2,137, 1,087 of which were for boys and 1,050 for girls.By 1898, enrollment in schools at all levels exceeded 200,000 students. As a result of the implementation of public education, a new social class of educated Filipinos arose, that came to be known as the Ilustrados. This new enlightened class of Filipinos would later lead the Philippine independence movement, using the Spanish language as their main communication method. Among the Ilustrados who had also studied in Spain were Jos Rizal, Graciano Lpez Jaena, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Mariano Ponce or Antonio Luna, who were to lead later the cause of Filipino self-government and independence.

First Republic
The defeat of Spain by American forces paved the way for Aguinaldo's Republic under a Revolutionary Government. The schools maintained by Spain for more than three

centuries were closed for the time being but were reopened on August 29, 1898 by the Secretary of Interior. The Burgos Institute in Malolos, the Military Academy of Malolos, and the Literary University of the Philippines were established. A system of free and compulsory elementary education was established by the Malolos Constitution.

American period
An adequate secularized and free public school system was established during the first decade of American rule upon the recommendation of the Schurman Commission. Free primary instruction that trained the people for the duties of citizenship and avocation was enforced by the Taft Commission per instructions of President William McKinley. Chaplains and non-commissioned officers were assigned to teach using English as the medium of instruction. A highly centralized public school system was installed in 1901 by the Philippine Commission by virtue of Act No. 74. The implementation of this Act created a heavy shortage of teachers so the Philippine Commission authorized the Secretary of Public Instruction to bring to the Philippines more than 1,000 teachers from the United States called the Thomasites between 1901 to 1902. These teachers were scattered throughout the islands to establish barangay schools.[16] The same law established the Philippine Normal School (now the Philippine Normal University) to train Filipino teachers for the public schools. The high school system supported by provincial governments, special educational institutions, school of arts and trades, an agricultural school, and commerce and marine institutes were established in 1902 by the Philippine Commission. In 1908, the Philippine Legislature approved Act No. 1870 which created the University of the Philippines. The Reorganization Act of 1916 provided the Filipinization of all department secretaries except the Secretary of Public Instruction. Two decades later, enrollment in elementary schools was about 1 million from a total of 150,000 students in 1901.

After World War II

In 1947, by virtue of Executive Order No. 94, the Department of Instruction was changed to "Department of Education." During this period, the regulation and supervision of public and private schools belonged to the Bureau of Public and Private Schools.

Marcos era
In 1972, the Department of Education became the Department of Education and Culture by Proclamation 1081.

Following a referendum of all barangays in the Philippines from 1015 January 1973, on 17 January 1973 President Marcos ratified the 1973 Constitution by Proclamation 1102. The 1973 Constitution set out the three fundamental aims of education in the Philippines, to:

foster love of country; teach the duties of citizenship; and

develop moral character, self discipline, and scientific, technological and vocational efficiency.[ On 24 September 1972, by PD No 1, the Department of Education, Culture and Sports was decentralized with decision-making shared among thirteen regional offices. In 1978, by PD No 1397, the Department of Education and Culture became the Ministry of Education and Culture. The Education Act of 1982 provided for an integrated system of education covering both formal and nonformal education at all levels. Section 29 of the Act sought to upgrade education institutions' standards to achieve quality education, through voluntary accreditation for schools, colleges, and universities. Sections 16 & 17 upgraded the obligations and qualifications required for teachers and administrators. Section 41 provided for government financial assistance to private schools. The Act also created the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports.

Fifth Republic
On 2 February 1987, a new Constitution for the Philippines was ratified. Section 3, Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution contains the ten fundamental aims of education in the Philippines In 1987 by virtue of Executive Order No. 117, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, became the Department of Education, Culture and Sports . The structure of DECS as embodied in EO No. 117 remained practically unchanged until 1994. On 26 May 1988 Congress enacted Republic Act 6655, the Free Public Secondary Education Act of 1988, which mandated free public secondary education commencing in the school year 1988-1989. On 26 May 1988 Congress enacted RA 6655 which made free public secondary education to become a reality. On 3 February 1992, Congress enacted Republic Act 7323, which provided that students aged 15 to 25 may be employed during summer or Christmas vacation with a salary not lower than the minimum wage. 60% of the wage is to be paid by the employer and 40% by the government.

The Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM) report of 1991 recommended the division of DECS into three parts. On 18 May 1994, Congress passed Republic Act 7722, theHigher Education Act of 1994, creating the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), which assumed the functions of the Bureau of Higher Education, and supervises tertiary degree programs. On 25 August 1994, Congress passed Republic Act 7796, the Technical Education and Skills Development Act of 1994, creating the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), which absorbed the Bureau of Technical-Vocational Education plus the National Manpower and Youth Council, and supervises non-degree technical-vocational programs DECS retained responsibility for all elementary and secondary education. This threefold division became known as the trifocal system of education in the Philippines.

The trifocal education system of the Philippines

In August 2001, Republic Act 9155, otherwise called the Governance of Basic Education Act, was passed transforming the name of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) to the Department of Education (DepEd) and redefining the role of field offices (regional offices, division offices, district offices and schools). RA 9155 provides the overall framework for (i) school head empowerment by strengthening their leadership roles and (ii) school-based management within the context of transparency and local accountability. The goal of basic education is to provide the school age population and young adults with skills, knowledge, and values to become caring, self-reliant, productive and patriotic citizens. In January 2009, DepEd signed a memorandum of agreement with the United States Agency for International Development to seal $86 million assistance to Philippine education, particularly the access to quality education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and the Western and Central Mindanao regions.[28] School grades The school year starts on the first week of June and ends on the last week of March (elementary and junior and senior high schools, while the college year is divided into two semesters: the first begins in the beginning of June and ends in October, while the second begins in November and ends in March.

Level/Grade Preschool

Typical age


Various optional programs Nursery Kindergarten Preparatory Elementary school 1st Grade 2nd Grade 3rd Grade 4th Grade 5th Grade 6th Grade 7th Grade Junior high school 1st Year (Freshman) 2nd Year (Sophomore) 3rd Year (Junior) 4th Year (Senior) Senior high school 1st Year

Under 6 3-4 4-5 5-6

Not compulsary; usually done in barangays Not compulsary

67 78 89 910 1011 1112 12-13

Only in some schools, equivalent to 1st Year

12-13 1314 14-15 15-16


On process, already implemented in some schools On process, already implemented in some schools

2nd Year Post-secondary education


Tertiary education (College or University)

Ages vary (usually four years, referred to as Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior years)

Vocational education Graduate education Adult education

Ages vary

Primary school

Upper Uma Elementary School, Pasil Valley, Upper Kalinga, viewed from Ag-gama track, July 2008. Note distance from road (centre left).

Only access from roadside (mid centre) to Upper Uma Elementary SchoolKalinga (behind) is via this one hour mud climb. Viewed December 2008.

Philippine Science High School, Main Campus, Quezon City. Note the disparity between rural and urban education facilities in the Philippines.

Primary school in the Philippines, more commonly known as "elementary school" (Filipino: paaralang elementarya, sometimes mababang paaralan) consists of six levels, with some schools adding an additional level (level 7). The levels are grouped into two primary subdivisions:primary-level, which includes the first three levels, and intermediate-level, which includes the last three or four levels. Primary education in the Philippines covers a wide curriculum. The core subjects (major subjects) include Mathematics, Sciences, the English and Filipino languages, and Makabayan (Social Studies, Livelihood Education, Values). Other subjects include Music, Arts, and Physical Education. Starting at the third level, Science becomes an integral part of the core subjects. On December 2007, Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced that Spanish is to make a return as a mandatory subject in all Filipino schools starting in 2008. That announcement has not yet come into effect. In private schools, subjects include Mathematics, English, Science, Social Studies, Basic Computer, Filipino, Music, Arts and Technology, Home Economics, Health, Physical Education, and in Catholic schools, Religion or Christian Living. International schools and Chinese schools have additional subjects, especially in their language and culture. DECS Bilingual Policy is for the medium of instruction to be Filipino for: Filipino, Araling Panlipunan, Edukasyong Pangkatawan, Kalusugan at Musika; and English for: English, Science and Technology, Home Economics and Livelihood Education. Article XIV, Section 7 of the 1987 Philippine constitution mandates that regional languages are the auxiliary official languages in the regions and shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein. As a result, the language actually used in teaching is often a polyglot of Filipino and English with the regional language as the foundation, or rarely the local language. Filipino is based on Tagalog, so in Tagalog areas (including Manila), Filipino is the foundational language used. Philippine regional languages are also used outside Manila in the teaching of Makabayan. International English language schools use English as the foundational language. Chinese schools add two language subjects, such as Min Nan Chinese and Mandarin Chinese and may use English or Chinese as the foundational language. The constitution mandates that Spanish and Arabic shall be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis. Following on this, a few private schools mainly catering to the elite include Spanish in their curriculum. Arabic is taught in Islamic schools. Primary-level students generally graduate with a knowledge of two or three languages, although most primary school graduates in Manila cannot speak English. Until 2004, primary students traditionally sat for the National Elementary Achievement Test (NEAT) administered by the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS). It was intended as a measure of a school's competence, and not as a predictor of

student aptitude or success in Secondary school. Hence, the scores obtained by students in the NEAT were not used as a basis for their admission into Secondary school. During 2004, when DECS was officially converted into the Department of Education (DepEd), and also, as a result of some reorganization, the NEAT was changed to National Achievement Test (NAT) by the Department of Education (DepEd). Both the public and private elementary schools take this exam to measure a school's competency. As of 2006, only private schools have entrance examinations for Secondary school. The DepEd expects over 13.1 million elementary students to be enrolled in public elementary schools for school year 2009-2010.

Secondary education
Secondary school in the Philippines, more commonly known as "high school" (Filipino: paaralang sekundarya, sometimes mataas na paaralan), consists of four levels largely based on the American schooling system as it was until the advent of the comprehensive high schools in the US in the middle of last century. The Philippine high school system has not moved much from where it was when the Philippines achieved independence from the US in 1946. It still consists of only four levels with each level partially compartmentalized, focusing on a particular theme or content. DepEd specifies a compulsory curriculum for all high schooling, public and private. The first year of high school has five core subjects, Algebra I, Integrated Science, English I, Filipino I, and Philippine History I. Second year has Algebra II, Biology, English II, Filipino II, and Asian History.Third year has Geometry, Chemistry, Filipino III, and World History and Geography. Fourth year has Calculus, Trigonometry, Physics, Filipino IV, Literature, and Economics. Minor subjects may include Health, Music, Arts, Technology and Home Economics, and Physical Education. In selective schools, various languages may be offered as electives, as well as other subjects such as computer programming and literary writing. Chinese schools have language and cultural electives. Preparatory schools usually add some business and accountancy courses, while science high schools have biology, chemistry, and physics at every level. Secondary students used to sit for the National Secondary Achievement Test (NSAT), which was based on the American SAT, and was administered by DepEd. Like its primary school counterpart, NSAT was phased-out after major reorganizations in the education department. Now there is no government-sponsored entrance examination for tertiary education. Higher education institutions, both public and private, administer their own College Entrance Examinations (CEE). Vocational colleges usually do not

have entrance examinations, simply accepting the Form 138 record of studies from high school, and enrolment payment. DepEd expects over 5.6 million students in to be enrolled in public secondary schools for school year 2009-2010. The Department of Education proposes an additional two years of compulsory education, that, is called K+12 program. This program has been criticized by parents of students in kindergarten (that is expected to enter the grades 11 and 12) because it may be expensive and 'only an impediment to the students'. But the government wanted to continue this program amid of these complaints, because 'it will improve the quality of education and improve the literacy rate in the country'.

Technical and vocational education Technical and vocational education is offered to enhance students' practical skills at institutions usually accredited and approved by TESDA. Institutions may be government operated, often by provincial government, or private. The vast majority are privately operated and most call themselves colleges. They may offer programs ranging in duration from a couple of weeks to two year diploma courses. Programs can be technology courses like automotive technology, computer technology, and electronic technology; service courses such as caregiver, nursing aide, hotel and restaurant management; and trades courses such as electrician, plumber, welder, automotive mechanic, diesel mechanic, heavy vehicle operator. Upon graduating from most of these courses, students may take an examination from TESDA to obtain the relevant certificate or diploma.

Tertiary education
Tertiary education in the Philippines is increasingly less cosmopolitan. From a height of 5,284 foreign of students in 1995-1996 the number steadily declined to 2,323 in 20002001, the last year CHED published numbers on its website.

The Problem of Rural Education in the Philippines

In this journal, I have discussed the relationship between education, poverty alleviation, and economic development. The link is critical and the three are self-reinforcing. Education creates greater opportunities for the youth, who go on to work decent jobs in cities like Bacolod, Manila, and Cebu. The children remitmoney back to the parents, who spend on home improvements and the tuition fees for the younger siblings. College-educated individuals are much less likely to end up impoverished (about 1 in 44). Trade schools also create opportunities, with only one in 10 people with postsecondary degrees living below the poverty line. Unfortunately, the ratios drop precipitously after that. One in three high school graduates and half of elementary school grads are impoverished. Here are the sobering education statistics:

The long-term outlook for poverty reduction doesnt look good either, unfortunately. We all know that there is a very strong link between education (or lack of education) and povertytwo-thirds of our poor families have household heads whose highest educational attainment is at most Grade 6. Well, the education statistics (all from the NSCB ) tell a very sad tale: elementary school net participation rates (NPR)the proportion of the number of enrollees 7-12 years old to population 7-12 years oldhave plummeted from 95 percent in school year (SY) 1997-98 to 74 percent in 2005-2006, as have high school NPRs. Cohort survival rates (CSR) have also dropped: Out of every 100 children who enter Grade 1, only 63 will reach Grade 6, down from 69 children in 1997-1998. In high school, CSR have dropped even more: from 71 to 55. Which means, of course, that school dropout rates have increased. Which is one of the reasons why, in 2005-2006,

for the first time in 35 years, total enrollment decreased in both elementary and high school: although private school enrollment increased, public school enrollment went down more. The correlation is not difficult to see, but fixing the problem presents a challenge for several reasons. According to some observers, the Department of Education Culture and Sports (DECS) in the Philippines is one of the most corrupt government entities in the country. It has a budget equal to 12% of spending, but is riddled with graft from procurement (buying textbooks and other supplies), grease money, and bribes for just about any sort of movement within the bureaucracy. The impact on the education system is detrimental:

Embezzlement, nepotism, influence peddling, fraud and other types of corruption also flourish. Corruption has become so institutionalized that payoffs have become the lubricant that makes the education bureaucracy run smoothly. The result: an entire generation of Filipino students robbed of their right to a good education. This corruption leads to poor allocation of resources. Teachers are underpaid and treated poorly. In 2005, the Philippine government spent just $138 per student, compared to $852 in Thailand, another developing country in Southeast Asia. But graft and corruption are not the only issues. Poverty is a vicious cycle that leads traps generations of families.

Lunchtime at "The Environment-Friendly School"

About 80% of the Filipino poor live in the rural areas of the country. These are towns located deep in the mountains and the rice fields. The population density in the rural parts of the country is low, and there is a corresponding deficiency in schools and classrooms. Public school is free, but families still cannot afford to send their children

for a complicated network of reasons. In this editorial for the Pinoy Press, one author delineates the key issue:

With around 65 million Filipinos or about 80 percent of the population trying to survive on P96 ($2) or less per day, how can a family afford the school uniforms, the transportation to and from school, the expenses for school supplies and projects, the miscellaneous expenses, and the food for the studying sibling? More than this, with the worsening unemployment problem and poverty situation, each member of the family is being expected to contribute to the family income. Most, if not all, out-of-school children are on the streets begging, selling cigarettes, candies, garlands, and assorted foodstuffs or things, or doing odd jobs.

Beyond the selling goods on the street, children in farming families are expected to work in the fields during harvest time. In agriculture-based communities where farming is the primary livelihood, having children around to help with the work means more income for the family. In a recent trip to Valladolid, someone told me that children are paid 15 pesos for a days work in the blistering heat. They are pulled from school for two or three months at a time and are irreparably disadvantaged compared with their classmates. So, they may have to repeat the grade, only to be pulled out of school again next year. Transportation is another big problem. Kids walk 2-3 kilometers or more to and from school every day. They have to cross rivers and climb hills with their bookbags. The ones that can afford it take a tricycle, but that is a luxury. Schools are sometimes too far for the most remote communities to practically access. So the families cant afford to pay and the children are pulled from school.

The walk to school. It seems like an intractable problem. Corruption in the education bureaucracy and a lack of resources make delivering a high-quality education to all Filipinos a challenge. Microfinance is one way to help. With the assistance of microcredit loans, women can pay for the education of their children to purchase uniforms, textbooks, lunches, and rides to school. Also, by creating another source of income other than farming, the children do not have to come help the family work the fields. When I talk to NWTF clients about their dreams, they unfailingly say they hope for their children to finish their studies. History has shown that it is an achievable goal. But real systemic change needs to come from above. As long as corruption and bureaucracy paralyzes the system, the goal of delivering a decent education to children which pays dividends to the country in the long run will remain out of reach. For the rural poor, non-profits exist to help in the mission of education. While looking up pictures for this post, I came across a Filipino organization called theGamot Cogon (Grass Roots) Institute: The Gamot Cogon Institute (a non-stock, non-profit organization) is an Iloilo-based cultural institution working to transform society through human development approaches including education and training. GCI also prototypes or demonstrates alternative approaches to education, agriculture, health, and full human development.

On 12-year basic education: Additional years, more problems

[The Kabataan (Youth) Partylist, led by Congressman Raymond Palatino, released the following 5 reasons to oppose DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro's backing of President Aquino's plan to increase the 10-year basic education cycle to 12. The proposal is also endorsed by former DepEd Secretary Juan Miguel Luz. -- J The move to add one year in elementary and another year in high school will not answer the countrys declining quality of education, the growing number of out-of-school youth, nor will it lift the countrys employment rate. Below are five reasons to counteract former Department of Education (DepEd) Sec. Juan Miguel Luz delusions of grandeur. 1. Additional two years would mean extra expense for parents of public school goers, a majority of which belong to impoverished sectors. The new system would translate to added burden to parents who could barely send their children to school. For a poverty-stricken country such as ours, the proposal to add two years to basic education is a question of survival. While public education is free, a student would still need an average of P20,000 per school year (Kabataan Partylist computation) to cover transportation costs, food, school supplies and other operational expenses whilst schooling. The government, on the other hand, in 2009 allotted a meager P2,502 a year, or P6.85 per student per day, for education. This figure has not improved since.

Moreover, based on the latest Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FEIS), Filipino families opt to spend more on food and other daily basic necessities over their childrens education needs. Most Filipino families, unfortunately, are forced to make a choice between sending their children to school and spending their meager income on food and other basic necessities in order to survive. Poverty and government neglect have made education a luxury to many of our Filipino families. This would inevitably account for a higher dropout rate. Lower household spending on schooling, prompted by increasing prices of basic commodities, tuition and school fee hikes and stagnant wage levels have set the trend for a yearly increase in dropouts and out-of-school youth. 2. It is the government which would be throwing money into the problem. The proposal itself is very ideal, if not whimsical, for a country whose public spending for education is one of the lowest in the world.

The education sectors share has dwindled, from 3.3 percent in 2001, 2.19 percent in 2008 to 2.7 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009. This pales in comparison to neighboring countries Malaysia (7.4 percent) and Thailand (4 percent). It is also lower than the four percent average for all countries that were included in the World Education Indicators in 2006. The minimum prescribed standard for education spending set by UNESCO is six (6) percent of a countrys GDP. The Philippines is also lagging behind its Asian counterparts in public expenditure on education as a percentage of total public spending. At all levels of education, the Philippines is only spending 17.2 percent compared to Thailands 40 percent and Malaysias 28 percent. Translating this into expenditures per student, Philippine education spending is still way below its Asian competitors. The annual budget for education has also decreased steadily from 17.4 percent in 2001 to 15 percent in 2010. As a result, every school opening has been greeted with perennial back-to-school woes such as classroom and textbook shortages, lack of facilities and underpaid teachers. In his State of the Nation Address, Pres. Benigno Noynoy Aquino announced his thrust of venturing into public-private partnerships in order to address the needs of the education sector. This, however, may yet be used as an excuse to further decrease and gradually totally pull out state subsidy for education. Certainly, adding two more years to basic education will not resolve the declining quality of education in that it does not at all address the root cause of poor government spending and mis-prioritization. How then can the government afford to subsidize additional two years when subsidy for the present cycle has been found lacking? If privatization is the Aquino administrations answer, could it still guarantee free access to basic education, especially to our less fortunate students? 3. It will not resolve the high rate of unemployment, especially among the youth. Another rationale is that adding two years to basic education would increase chances of our youth for employment, even sans a college diploma. The DepEd says that an additional two years in basic education is aimed at improving the technical-vocational skills of our youth through subjects such as arts, aquaculture and agriculture, among others. The new education cycle, it said, would let students graduate at the age of 18 and ensure that they land a job here or abroad, making students employable even without finishing college. This is another fallacy, and hopefully not a deliberate ploy to create a wrong impression and false sense of hope among our youth.

The Philippines, which has a predominantly young population, also has the highest overall unemployment rates in East Asia and the Pacific Region. It also has the highest rates on unemployment among the youth, according to a 2003 study by the World Bank. Young Filipinos are twice as likely to be unemployed than those in older age groups. This condition was further worsened when the economic recession kicked in because of massive retrenchment and lay-offs. Young workers are at a disadvantage given their lack of experience vis a vis the lack of job opportunities. Every year for the last decade, at least 300,000 new graduates are added to the labor force, and consequently, a majority of them figure in the increasing unemployment statistics. In January 2008, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported that 50 percent of the unemployed 2.7 million belonged to age groups 15 to 24. Of these, 461, 000 or 35 percent were able to graduate from college, while an estimated 700,000 unemployed youth either finished high school or at least reached undergraduate college levels. Needless to say, let us please not mislead our youth into believing that a 12-year basic education cycle would assure them of job opportunities. How can the government avow this when this year alone 400,000 new COLLEGE graduates fell into the idle labor force? To really address youth unemployment, there is a need to overhaul not the basic education cycle but the countrys economic and labor policies. 4. It is designed to reinforce cheap semi-skilled labor for foreign needs. Over the years, the government has promoted migration and jobs abroad in the guise of providing jobs and greener pastures to our young labor force. Roughly 10.7 percent of the total Filipino labor migrant population now consists of young workers, most of them semi-skilled and unskilled workers who offer their services in exchange for cheap wages. The economys lack of development resulting in job loss at home is due mainly to the governments failure to address poverty and joblessness. Migration has invariably resulted in the brain drain of our young skilled workers and professionals. The departure, for instance, of our young nurses, teachers and doctors to work as caregivers, medical assistants and domestic helpers has caused the disruption of our very own economy. Time and again we whine of the deterioration of the quality of our education and health systems, but ironically, our very own economic policies are driving away the best of the best of our skilled workers and professionals. The current proposal adopted by neoliberal pro-globalization die-hards aim to meet standards for global competitiveness and demands of the international labor market for semiskilled labor. Simply put, this measure intends to strengthen the colonial

orientation of Philippine education, serve the cheap labor needs of foreign capital and businesses. Our education system must be a Filipno education and must serve the needs of our nation and people. 5. The genuine solution is for the promotion of an educational system that would truly address the needs of the Filipino youth and Philippine society in general. Education is the foundation upon which we shall build our country. It serves as the means to bring about the desired change in society, to develop a generation of virtuous individuals and thus contribute to the development of good human beings. Our educational system will determine the kind of nation we will become in the future. Unless the government reverses its present education policies and works for the establishment of an educational system that truly addresses and caters to the needs of the Filipino youth and Philippine society, the changes it would implement are not necessarily the changes we genuinely need. Instead of adding years, the government must focus on measures aimed at increasing state spending on education to six (6) percent of the GDP, stopping unjust tuition and other fee increases in all levels, promoting a nationalist curriculum, upholding democratic rights of students, improving teachers welfare, and improve science, research and technology development. It must also promote transparency and sanctions against corruption cases in education programs and review existing policies and institutions of education.

Philippines: Teachers, students to hold summit on education reforms

Students of the University of the Philippines last year held a strike against President Aquino's "budget cuts". Photo by LFS.ph. With school year 2010-2011 soon to wind down and the Philippines braces for the next one, stakeholders led by educators and students are set to sit down in a Peoples Summit on Education Reforms on Feb. 11 in Manila. The summit will be held at the Philippine Normal University, the countrys top producer of teachers, and will be hosted by PNUs faculty union and the student alliance PNU. Spearheading the summit are the ACT Teachers Partylist and the Kabataan (Youth) Partylist. It is timely as Filipino teachers and students are bracing for a tumultuous new school year this June, and happens as administrators hold consultations on proposed tuition fee increases. President Benigno Aquinos Education Secretary Armin Luistro, former president of the private and exclusive De La Salle University, has batted for his own brand of reforms, including universal kindergarten. Teachers welcomed the move as a step forward to raise the quality of education but expressed doubt whether the current resources of government would be enough to take care of the faculty, classrooms and teaching tools needed for the kids who have started to enroll for the free kindergarten in public schools. Last year, faculty, students and staff of the Philippines state college and universities came out to the streets in strikes against President Aquinos decision to reduce the 2011 budget for public tertiary education. The budget cuts were so big, administrators of the state colleges and universities, and Members of Congress, supported the protests. Since 1982 when the dictator Ferdinand Marcos signed Batas Pambansa 232 signed the Education Act into law, the private sector has been given a leading role in Philippine education via the deregulation of tuition and other school fees. Although the law provides teachers a permanent share in tuition fee increases, most Filipino teachers remain the least paid professionals in the country. Under the regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Philippines reduced the number of state colleges and universities, even as enrolment continues to go up.