As Canadian students graduate high school, their Filipino counterparts are about to start their classes June to March. Yet, the quality of education is in no doubt in question in the Philippines.
The number of years of formal schooling in the Philippines used to be one of the shortest in the world. In 2011, major reforms were introduced to lengthen formal educational ladder of 6+4+2 structure (i.e., six years of elementary education, four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school). A year of kindergarten has also been added, with children now beginning their studies at the age of 5 (versus 7 previously)
- Misconception about the +2 years (Kathang isip hinggil sa +2 taon) Adding two years to the basic education curriculum will vastly improve the performance and competency of Filipino students and make Philippine basic education at par with international standards. To follow the dictates of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic integration is to simply cram the country into free trade and more competition among countries. However imagined, there is no such world standard in the length of formal schooling.
- Ill-preparedness (Kawalang kahandaan) Only 48% of public high schools nationwide have submitted proposals to implement an extended senior high school (SHS). That’s about half of the 2 million high school students – the first full batch of Grade 11 students required to take SHS by June 2016. In order to accommodate, the government is streaming students to enroll in private schools and colleges instead. This means the K-12 program violates the Basic Education Act of 2013 which requires a review and evaluation of its capacity before the full implementation of the framework. Why change the whole system instead of testing in pilot sites first
- Resource gaps (Kakulangan sa pasilidad, at iba pang imprastraktura) The Department of Education earlier vowed to achieve zero shortage in classrooms, textbooks, water and sanitation facilities, teachers and seats. However, BS Aquino’s administration is playing catch-up in planning to build more than 40,000 classrooms. That is just for brand-new classrooms not including classrooms for repair and new technical-vocational workshops. Class sizes range even up to 54, where desks intended for two pupils would be shared by three instead. Hundreds of errors were seen in several textbooks. Education officials are still confronted by a shortage of equipment that in some cases, children are asked to bring their own chairs. These deficiencies stretch back to two years.
- Transition Mismanagement (Kamalian sa pamamalakad) Decongesting the current curriculum to allow “mastery of learning” is apparently learning everything too fast. And with the severe lack of facilities and trained teachers, shorter hours of instruction may be the practice and make things worse. For teachers, it is only through their own resourcefulness that make them survive.
- Privatization (Katuparan ng pribatisasyon) While the government drastically reduced social spending on education, it turns out “capitalist-educators” took over schools as money-making schemes. Seven of the 65 richest Filipino tycoons now own a handful of educational institutions. These schools enjoy maximum tolerance from the government by way of deregulation. They are also favored by government by way of subsidies and assuring them more profits.
1 out of 5 Philippine schools is a private school
1 out of 10 Filipino pupils is enrolled in private elementary schools
1 out of 5 Filipino students is enrolled in private secondary schools.
- Corporatization (Korporatisasyon) With the educational crisis, more corporate-led privatizations are taking shape. Case in point is the rise of APEC (affordable, private, education centers) schools – a for-profit chain of low-fee private schools established through a joint venture between Ayala Education (under Ayala Corporation) and Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (under foreign education company Pearson Plc). The education-business model implemented by APEC involves hiring under qualified and underpaid teachers, to keep costs down and to ensure increasing rates of profit.
On the other hand, Alternative Learning System – non-formal education of underprivileged students in rural areas – constantly face many challenges, particularly the heavy militarization due to counterinsurgency operation that often times threaten and harass the school staff.
- Anti-people curriculum & its downward spiral approach (Kurikulum na anti-mamamayan) The curricula and philosophy of Philippine education system is geared towards preparing youth as ‘stocks’ ready for labour export. Technical-vocational courses are engineered to respond to the prevailing demand of the international labour market for contractual, part-time and seasonal jobs. Even with different academic tracks from which students can choose from supposedly, not all schools offer the tracks.
- Tuition and other fees (Kamahalan ng matrikula at iba pang bayarin) Quality education is equated with expensive fees that prevents an overwhelming majority of the people from availing it. Under Daang Matuwid, tuition fees rose by as much as 400% in the last 6 years. More recently, the Commission on Higher Education approved tuition and other school fee increase proposals of 304 private universities and colleges for the following Academic Year
- Labour concerns (Kawalang karapatan sa trabaho) The K-12 or Enhanced Basic Education law, is paradoxically expected to massive layoffs of workers in colleges and universities. Suppose enrollment in higher education institutions (HEIs) will drop to zero after the extension of high school to grades 11 and 12, estimates show that about 30,000 teachers will lose their jobs over a five-year period, including around 15,000 non teaching staff. Instructors of general education courses will be the most affected during the rollout of the senior high school curriculum this year. While up to 90% of HEIs in the country have no labour unions, personnel are vulnerable to abuse.
- Chaotic impact (Kaguluhang bunga) The K to 12 scheme keeps high dropout rates among secondary students. In 2013, completion of grade 6 was less than 74%, indicating a significant drop-out at the elementary level. As it produces more out-of-school youths in the country, it may also cause a “downward pressure” on wages. Unemployment is steadily increasing, not because of shortage of “capable” people, but because there is no clear plan for an independent and sustainable job creation program.
- Prelude to a crisis (Kagipitang hinaharap) This scheme is a prelude to the planned restructuring of tertiary level education under the government’s Roadmap for Public Higher Education Reform, which include the proposal to amalgamate several state universities into one system. It means a steady decrease in government spending. In effect, there will be reduction and closure of local universities and colleges.
- Lack of public consultations (Kakulangan sa pagsangguni sa mga stakeholder) No massive and genuinely democratic consultations with teachers, parents, students, and other stakeholders, were held when the K to 12 Program was beingconceived, and before it was implemented. The government failed to carry out its responsibility of assessing the current education cycle and curricula.
Although K-12 is claimed to follow the “global standards”, an education does not take into consideration the people’s welfare and progress, is useless. Philippine education must be geared to the making of Filipinos–nationalist, scientific, and mass-based.
“In an import-dependent, export-oriented economy, K-12 by itself – even with all its good intentions – could not work. The country cannot go at par with the rest of the world without developing its national industry first. When done properly, we could even get FREE basic education that caters to the needs of the common people,” says Ysh Cabana, Education officer, Anakbayan Toronto. ###