Friday, November 21, 2008

On the State of Philippine Education

It's appalling.
Our educational system has gone from good to worse in the past decades. For the longest time, it seemed that the six-year elementary and four-year secondary education provided in our schools were sufficient. But times and needs have indeed changed. Today, the Philippines is now only one of the very few countries that use a ten-year basic educational system. In highly advanced countries, twelve years of basic education is offered. This makes their High School graduates more competitive than ours.

But there are a lot of changes that need to be made to improve our educational system. Adding two more years is a big step, but that is not all that is needed to produce better students and eventually graduates. There are a lot of changes that need to be made, especially if we want to come up with very competitive graduates who are ready to take on graduates from more advanced nations of the world.

  1. Add two more years to High School and split High School into Junior High and Senior High. Many advanced Asian countries like Japan and Korea have this setup. Three years of Junior High and three years of Senior High.
  2. Improve our basic education curricula. Fifth grade students are studying lessons that should have been taught in second or third grade. In High School, the same stuff is taught over and over again for four years. There is now no specialization for students in High School. For example, instead of teaching a different Mathematics subject (Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, etc) each year, all these subjects are taught per quarter. A better curriculum will improve not only the understanding of the students, but also the quality of graduates produced.
  3. Decrease the student-to-teacher ratio. In some of our poorest schools, the student to teacher ratio can go up to 50:1! A class size of 20-30 is ideal.
  4. Add more classrooms. The reason for the high student-to-teacher ratio is because of very few classrooms available.
  5. Hire better teachers. Teachers pass on what they know to their students. If they are teaching their students wrong information, then they are doing injustice to the hope of the fatherland. In fact, there should be a grade requirement for teachers. They should not be accepted to teach if they are merely average students. There should be no room for mediocrity especially in the classroom.
  6. Increase the salary of teachers. Many teachers migrate to other countries for better employment because of their pay. And most of these who turn to overseas employment are the better teachers, leaving behind the second-rate mentors.
  7. Recognize the individual abilities of each student. Many gifted students who do not know they are gifted, suffer because of the slow pace of learning of their classmates. True, we now have schools or classes for accelerated students, but is their curriculum enough? Plus, accelerated students need help for them to adapt themselves to their older classmates when they get integrated with them in High School or College.
  8. Improve facilities. There are at least three ways of learning--visual, auditory and cognitive. There are teachers who teach a concept without proper visual aids or experimentation. More facilities means more students learning on their own. How will the teacher reach out to students who learn in a different manner from their classmates?
  9. Promote the use of the vernacular in the classroom. The Philippines is one of the very few countries around the world that does not discuss abstract terms in the local language. Hence it is very difficult for students to understand mathematical and logical concepts. While English should be taught very well, Mathematics, Science and History should be discussed in at least a bilingual manner.
  10. Stop the corruption in the government. A big chunk of the budget is devoted to education. But a big chunk of this goes down the pockets of the crocodiles in the government. When converted, this money could be translated to more rooms, better facilities, greater pay for teachers.
There are a lot more changes to be made to improve the state of Philippine education. But we can only get changes made if everyone makes their contribution to improving the condition of our dying educational system.

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