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STATUS AND PROSPECTS OF SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS

EDUCATION IN THE PHILIPPINES

PETER PHILIP M. PEREZ


MAED - Major in Administration and Supervision
Divine Word College of San Jose

Science and mathematics, being the subjects usually

correlated with the word difficult are said to be one of the

most important subject there is due to its pragmatic importance

in society. This, statement is true whether we take it in the

local context and that also of the international; for instance,

Antonio Isidro y Santos, 1968 who authored several books about

the Philippine educational system and education per se states

that The importance of Science to individuals and nations cannot

be overemphasized, this statement can be attributed to the fact

that the said subjects importance is in its superlative degree,

thus; cannot be astounded by any other. Note that, this

statement of Santos regarding the importance of science has been

made in the year 1968, thus; even though archival and can be

considered out of date by some who are very particular in the

literatures date of publication; the same truth holds bearing up

to this present days, which can be gauged from the literature of

Sarah A. Roberts, 2009 quoting Moses and Cobb, 2001 which states

that: Today the most urgent issue affecting poor people and
people of color is economic access. In todays world, economic

access and full citizenship depend crucially on science and math

literacy (p.5). And, even furthers by saying that: In an

increasingly technological economy, in order to participate,

individuals have to be mathematically literate, which means they

must have opportunities to learn mathematics. Note that, Sarah

Roberts is referring to the worldwide or holistic view of the

importance of science and mathematics education; and, if it is

true internationally, it also has a bearing in the local setting.

The general statement of about the state of education in the

present context can be gauged from the words of the present

secretary of the Department of Education itself who states that

I do not think it will be a mistake or will be fairly easy to

claim that the Philippine education is in crisis (Nilo A.

Colinares, 2000); here, confession from the incumbent high

ranking official himself, made mention about the difficulties and

dilemmas that the Philippine Education sector is having. Thus, it

is but safe to claim that science and mathematics education

follows the same scenario, since the said subjects are just mere

components of the Philippine education curriculum, and the

Philippine curriculum is also a component of a macro system of

the Philippine education scenario. Indeed, being pessimistic

sometimes is but a logical, and; it includes situations such as


describing the science and mathematics education in the country.

Actually, these somewhat systemic and pressing issues as regards

to the flop of Philippine Educational System can be explained by

one literature alone which I quote:

The persistence of these issues for much of the 20th century

and into the first decade of the 21st century highlights a

distressing paradox. With its long tradition of critical

assessments and reform-oriented planning, the DepEd actually

incubated, tested, and proved the effectiveness of numerous

reform initiatives, some of them ahead of the discourses of

their time. Yet, at the start of every school year, the news

media project without fail a perpetual education crisis that

the mainstreaming of successful reform initiatives could

have addressed.

Why reforms have not transformed education on the

ground or why the DepEd has found it difficult to translate

structural reforms and programmatic changes into large-

scale, integrated, and sustained outcomes is the focus of

this chapter. It shares insights into the education reform

process through the prism of two illustrative cases: One

shows the DepEds partial implementation of the

decentralized governance of basic education; the other


demonstrates its inadequate policy formulation in the area

of learning and pedagogy.

The first case looks into the partial implementation of

RA9155 through school based management (SBM) in 21 percent

of the countrys schools divisions through the BEAM project

funded by the Australian Agency for International Aid

(AusAID) and the Third Elementary Education Project (TEEP)

supported by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation

(JBIC) and the World Bank (WB). The case demonstrates how

the followinga policy change (i.e., the decentralization of

education and the corresponding revision of functions and

responsibilities at various levels of the bureaucracy);

policy continuity across different administrations;

effective leadership at all levels; the willful

implementation of plans that targeted disadvantaged schools;

and the encouragement of innovations throughout schools in

the divisions coveredallowed a reform-oriented

counterculture to begin taking root in the DepEd without a

change in division and school personnel. In addition, this

case reflects changes in processes and procedures at the

central and local offices for the duration of the projects.

The second case relates the story of the countrys

language policy and why, despite a surfeit of international


and national research supporting the use of the mother

tongue in the early years of schooling, the DepEd has not

revised its policy on the languages of learning and language

acquisition. The story demonstrates the struggle within the

DepEd and between the department and powerful segments in

Philippine society of contending positions on a pedagogy-

related policy with tremendous implications for learning,

the preservation of local languages, and the survival of

community cultures.

Strengthening the capacity of the DepEd bureaucracy to

manage education reform by addressing formal and informal

institutional constraints is the objective of the Basic

Education Sector Reform Agenda (BESRA). While BESRA maps the

way forward, its implementation is vulnerable to the same

factors that have limited the impact of previous reform

efforts. This chapter concludes with BESRAs potential for

catalyzing institutional change and outlines recommendations

to help the DepEd succeed in translating another responsive,

well-crafted, and comprehensive plan into reality.

While this chapter examines institutional factors that

have constrained the transformative effects of education

reform, it recognizes that some reforms would not

necessarily translate into desired outcomes when the


intervening variables are not within the control of the

DepEd. For instance, studies by the World Bank and the

National Nutrition Council have shown that no amount of

academic improvement projects will improve learning

achievement when brain development and physical growth are

stunted by the childs unfavorable health and nutrition

status (Ma. Cynthia Rose B. Bautista, Allan B.I. Bernardo,

Dina Ocampo, 2008).

Thus, it can be gauged from the foregoing that, we are going into

circles, practically solving nothing, and the deemed solution

seemed to become more of a problem rather than a solution, since;

it entails expenditure which will be charged against the taxes

paid by the people of the republic of the Philippines.

Science and Mathematics Education in the country, is not at

par with the description of the state of education of the nation

in general, there are reforms, moves and agenda which somewhat

proves little pragmatically good result in the long run of every

moves the higher ranking officials has pushed. However, it must

be made clear that to decipher the rationale behind such; one

must dig deeper into the context of the history of the Philippine

education sector, along with the issues of leadership in the

higher offices of Philippine education agencies as well as other

less pertinent respects.


To be particular, the perceived flaws of Mathematics and

science education in the country can be attributed to numerous

factors such as: Teachers factors, language issue in

instruction, administrative issues, and financial issues among

others.

Teachers factors which have a connection to the state of

science and mathematics education in the country can be further

deciphered into several contexts such as: teacher preparation

issues, teaching effectiveness issues. As regards to the teacher

preparation issues, and teaching effectiveness issues on

Philippine science and mathematics education, an archival

literature written by Antonio Isidro y Santos, 1968 on Page 121

stipulated: The present knowledge and techniques of the present

science and mathematics teachers must be upgraded. There should

be a constant effort to upgrade the professional preparation of

science and math teachers. Here, as early as the year 1968,

mention has been made as regards to the low quality of teacher

preparation; thus, needing to be improved, to effect quality

learning among the students being catered in the schools. Gauging

from this, we can say that, from late 1960s there has been

problems in existence regarding teacher preparation; these same

scenario can be seen even up to this present times as manifested

in the present literatures such as that of Sylvia A. Ware, 1992


who said that the content of many science teacher preparation

programs needs to be reevaluated to eliminate intellectually

superficial courses from the curriculum, thus recommends that

Teacher training institutions need to begin to take teacher

preparation seriously enough to put more thought and imagination

into program design and flexible course scheduling . We can see

from the arguments of Sylvia A. Ware that a good teacher

preparation is important, things which even the present secretary

of education seems to be not taking into consideration; for

instance, the news article of Queena N. Lee-Chua, 2012 quoting

Bro Armin Luistro and DepEd Agenda states that:

Luistro says DepEd is looking into the possibility of asking

specialists to handle content-heavy subjects, particularly

in the junior and senior high schools, even if they have not

taken the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET).

They have to be properly qualified, of course,

Luistro says. A BS Math graduate can be asked to teach

high school math, even without doing the LET, but only on a

part-time basis.

We cannot hire them full-time, because the law

requires elementary and high school teachers to have a

license, he says.
I have previously written about cases of accountants,

engineers, and other professionals who want to and who can

teach math and science, but were turned down because they

did not take the LET.

To critics who say these are not real teachers,

Luistro says part-timers will be given seminars to learn the

appropriate pedagogy and instructional methods.

Things such as this can irritate those who have knowledge in

pedagogy and learning, as well as those who really pursued

education as a course knowing that what should have been their

benefits for taking the course and being eligible thereof will be

shared to those who are in one way or another, are not eligible

to teach. Furthermore, knowing that learning (effective and

efficient) may come as a result of good pedagogical style, we can

say that the future of the students which will be handled by such

non teachers has stronger chance to be in peril. What irritates

me more is that fact that this issue is already archival in

nature; Antonio Isidro y Santos, 1968 has already mentioned such

scenario on teachers and teaching competence sixty years ago when

said that teaching is a matter of luck than an indication of

professional competence or adequate preparation for teaching;

pity, but that is how things goes.


Language issue are also said to be imbedded in the perceived

failure of the science and mathematics education in the country

and the teaching and learning scenario in general. In the words

of Marina E. Balce, 2010 of the National Institute for Science

and Mathematics Education Development of the University of the

Philippines: One aspect of effective teaching that makes a

significant difference to learning is the use of the mother

tongue to communicate the nuances of any idea. This statement has

come about due to the perceived failure of students to grasp the

concepts of science and mathematics as it is taught in the second

language or English. Note that, Understanding the relationship

between language and mathematics learning is crucial to designing

mathematics instruction for students (Judit Moschkovich, 1995),

this is also true concerning science education as to the words of

authors such as Mohamad Fadhili Bin Yahaya, Mohd Asri Bin Mohd

Noor, Ahmad Azman Bin Mokhtar, Rafizah Binti Mohd Rawian, Mahmod

Bin Othman, Kamaruzaman Jusoff, 2009. In some cases, there is a

need to become bilingual to be able to impart the concepts of

science and mathematics effectively s (for examples see Adler,

1998; Brenner, 1994; Khisty, McLeod, & Bertilson, 1990; Khisty,

1995; and Moschkovich, 1999). Gauging from the foregoing we can

say that there is really a need to consider the implementation of

vernacular instruction in the country for reason of better

facilitation of knowledge in the said fields; also, as history


itself states, there is a perceive language handicap on the part

of Filipinos when taken English language into consideration,

since it is just a second language in the country (Paul Monroe,

1925), and even nowadays, in which more than 40 percent of the

Filipino citizens find it difficult to convey their thoughts in

the English language. Actually, this should not be the case; we

have our own language which should not be extinct in favor of

English (Nettle, D. 2000)

Administrative issues which leads to the downfall of the

Philippine Science and Mathematics Education in the country is

intertwined with many concerns or multifaceted. Way back in

1960s there is an administrative decision which fosters the

decline of Filipino interest in mathematics science; that is

giving higher salaries to English teachers more than that of

other subjects as stated in the book of Bienvenido B Manuel,

Juanita S. Guerrero, Minda C. Sutaria (1974). This, along with

other administrative decision may in one way another triggered

the fission of reactions leading to the uncontrollable failure as

we see it now. Furthermore, funding can also be associated with

administration (2013 Budget Message of President Aquino, 2013);

thus, they are the ones who should be blamed for lack/s of needed

supplies in the Philippine education setting (Philippine

Education For All 2015; ) and although it is given that dis


is due to underdevelopment of economy (Masafumi Nagao, John M.

Rogan, Marcelita Coronel Magno, 2007) it is also given, gauging

from the supreme law of the land itself that education, more

particularly science and mathematics should be the priority of

the state, gauging from the context of the law itself which

quote:

The State shall protect and promote the right of all

citizens to quality education at all levels, and shall take

appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all.

The State shall: (1) Establish, maintain, and support a

complete, adequate, and integrated system of education

relevant to the needs of the people and society;

The State shall take into account regional and

sectorial needs and conditions and shall encourage local

planning in the development of educational policies and

programs.

The State shall assign the highest budgetary priority

to education and ensure that teaching will attract and

retain its rightful share of the best available talents

through adequate remuneration and other means of job

satisfaction and fulfillment (Article XIV, Education,


Science and Technology, Arts, Culture and Sports Education.

Ricardo S. Lazo, 2009).

All the said factors, when taken into consideration, will

inevitably fall into a single conclusion, that the future of the

students in this country will not be in good shape because of the

inequities of our so called leaders to transform the education

sector of the country into a competitive one; this has been

mentioned around sixty (60) years ago by Antonio Isidro y Santos,

1968 which goes: Under present offerings of science and

mathematics in the elementary and secondary schools, our youth

will be handicapped in competition with future leaders in other

lands. A conclusion such as this has come to existence because of

the standing culture of failure we have in the Philippine

educational system. I just wish that this will be reversed sooner

so that we can be competitive enough and will be able to keep up

with the changes in the present times. Failure in this respect

can be interpreted as mis-education of the Filipino

(Constantino, 1959), this is not just phenomenal but systemic

(Funtecha, H. & Padilla, M. (2004).

Literature in philbasiceducation.blogspot.com entitled

Science and Mathematics Education: What Is the Current

Situation? provides that: In order to solve a problem, the first


step is to understand it. Knowing the situation is a key to

providing the appropriate solution. Again, this parallels good

practice in medicine. A correct diagnosis is necessary to make

the right prescription. It is important to have the data that

inform and in both science and math education, without paying

attention to evidence leads to solutions that are based on wild

guesses, preconceived notions, and anecdotes. Note that,

recommendation like this directly hits the scenario which is

happening concerning the education sector in the land, thus; we

need to adhere to this so that we can have a better shape of

education for the sake of the students being catered in schools.

The aforementioned conclusion is very serious; thus, needs to be

resolved, using very wise decisions, diligently composed and

implemented (Bernardo, A. B. I. 2008) and, these reforms should

be done the soonest possible time in the country, before its too

late (Capuno, 2008); these statements are also attuned to the

words of Maria Linda C. Cabillan, who mentioned that we have to

move in faster phase as regards to this due to the advent of

globalization.

REFERENCES:

I. BOOKS:
1. Nilo a. Colinares, 2000. 21st Century Trends, issues and

Challenges in Philippine Education. National Book Store,

Mandaluyong City, Page 118.


2. Antonio Isidro y Santos, 1968. Trends and Issues in

Philippine Education. Alemar-Phoenix Publications. Pages

119.
3. Bienvenido B Manuel, Juanita S. Guerrero, Minda C. Sutaria

(1974). New thrusts in Philippine education. Current Events

Digest.
4. Paul Monroe, 1925. A survey of the educational system of the

Philippine Islands by the Board of educational surveys:

created under acts 3162 and 3196 of the Philippine

legislature. Philippines. Educational Survey Commission

Bureau of Printing
5. Nettle, D. & Romaine, S. (2000) Vanishing Voices: The

Extinction of the Worlds Languages. London, UK; Oxford

University Press
6. Funtecha, H. & Padilla, M. (2004). Study Guide in Philippine

History for Teachers and Students. Iloilo City: Mindset

Publishing.
7. Bernardo, A. B. I. (2008). English in Philippine education:

Solution or problem? Hong Kong University Press.


8. Masafumi Nagao, John M. Rogan, Marcelita Coronel Magno,

2007. Mathematics and Science Education in Developing

Countries: Issues, Experiences, and Cooperation Prospects.

University of the Philippines Press.


9. Ricardo S. Lazo, 2009. Philippine Governance and the 1987

Constitution. Rex Book Store Incorporated.


II. JOURNALS:

10. Sarah A. Roberts, 2009. Supporting English Language

Learners Development of Mathematical Literacy. Democracy &

Education 18 no. 3 Aug. 2009


11. Ma. Cynthia Rose B. Bautista, Allan B.I. Bernardo, Dina

Ocampo, 2008. When Reforms Dont Transform: Reflections on

institutional reforms in the Department of Education.

http://hdn.org.ph/wp-

content/uploads/2009/05/dp02_bautista_etal.pdf
12. Sylvia A. Ware, 1992. The Education of Secondary

Science Teachers in Developing Countries. PHREE Background

Paper Series, Published thru the aid of: The International

Bank for Reconstruction and Development The World Bank 1992


13. Adler, J. (1998). A language of teaching dilemmas:

Unlocking the complex multilingual secondary mathematics

classroom. FLM Publishing Association. pages 24-33.


14. Brenner, M. (1994). A communication framework for

mathematics: Exemplary instruction for culturally and

linguistically diverse students. SUNY Press.


15. Khisty, L. L. (1995). Making inequality: Issues of

language and meanings in mathematics teaching with Hispanic

students. In W. G. Secada, E. Fennema, & L. B. Adajian

(Eds.), New directions for equity in mathematics education

(pp. 279-297). New York: Cambridge University Press.


16. Moschkovich, J. N. (1999). Supporting the participation

of English language learners in mathematical discussions.

FLM Publishing Association.


17. Constantino, Renato (1959). The Miseducation of the

Filipino, Weekly Graphics.


18. Capuno, Joseph (2008). A Case Study of the

Decentralization of Health and Education Services in the

Philippines. Background paper for the 2008 Philippine Human

Development Report.

III. ONLINE SOURCES:


19. Queena N. Lee-Chua, 2012. Preparing teachers for the big

reform. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved April 4,

2014.http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/170691/preparing-teachers-

for-the-big-reform
20. Science and Mathematics Education: What Is the Current

Situation? Retrieved April 4, 2014.

http://philbasiceducation.blogspot.com/2013/03/science-and-

mathematics-education-what.html
21. Khisty, L. L., McLeod, D., & Bertilson, K. (1990). Speaking

mathematically in bilingual classrooms: An exploratory study

of teacher discourse. Proceedings of the Fourteenth

International Conference for the Psychology of Mathematics

Educator, 3, 105-112. Mexico City: CONACYT. Retrieved April

4, 2014. http://uri-

englishlanguagearts.wikispaces.com/file/view/Supporting

%20ELLs%20Math.pdf/222842538/Supporting%20ELLs%20Math.pdf
22. Mohamad Fadhili Bin Yahaya et.al. 2009. Teaching of

Mathematics and Science in English: The Teachers' Voices.

English Language Teaching. Retrieved April 4, 2014.

http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/elt/article/view/23

80
23. Marina E. Balce, 2010. Teaching Quality Science Education in

Filipino. Retrieved April 4, 2014.

http://mlephil.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/teaching-quality-

science-education-in-filipino/
24. Maria Linda C. Cabillan. Changing Landscape of Mathematics

Education in the Philippines: Lessons from Globalization.

Retrieved April 4, 2014. http://vlir-

piuc.slu.edu.ph/index.php?

option=com_content&task=view&id=80&Itemid=76
25. 2013 Budget Message of President Aquino, 2013. Retrieved

April 4, 2014. http://www.gov.ph/2012/07/24/2013-budget-

message-of-president-aquino/
26. Philippine Education For All 2015: Implementation and

Challenges. Retrieved April 4,

2014.http://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/upload/Philippines/Ph

ilippines_EFA_MDA.pdf