Here is another indication that the benefits of the 30-year record-high economic growth are not trickling down to the poor: up to 3.3 million children will be out of school this year, mostly due to poverty. This is the assessment of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers or ACT, which is calling for urgent intervention by the government to save millions of Filipino children from being deprived of proper education.
The Department of Education estimates that only about a million children will be unable to enroll this school year. But even that modest estimate is too much in a country where basic education is supposed to be free and compulsory, and where the Constitution provides that the lion’s share of the annual budget should go to education.
Though elementary and high school education is supposed to be free, parents still cannot afford the daily transportation fare, snacks and miscellaneous fees that they must shoulder for their children’s education. Sending a child to school also means one less helper in farms or in marginal means of livelihood.
ACT members say that the number of out-of-school youths aged 6 to 15 has jumped by a whopping 78 percent since 2002, from 1.86 million to 3.33 million last year. The teachers’ alliance is urging the government to expand its school feeding program and provide free mass transportation for school children in impoverished or remote communities. The teachers also point out that while public schools are barred from collecting miscellaneous fees during enrollment, such fees are still collected throughout the school year.
Every year that a child lags behind in school makes it harder to catch up with more fortunate classmates. Previous studies have raised concern over the high dropout rate in public schools, with too many children unable to make it past sixth grade. By the time these dropouts become adults, they are severely handicapped by their lack of education. This is a crisis and the teachers are right; this crisis needs drastic intervention.
Updated June 08, 2008 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines — Youth groups are demanding the resignation of the chairman of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) for being “profit-oriented” following his proposal for an extra year in college to improve the quality of education in that level, their officials said Monday.
At the same time, the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) and Kabataang Pinoy [Filipino Youth], along with lawyer Adel Tamano, president of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (University of the City of Manila, PLM) and United Opposition spokesman, said that CHEd Chairman Emmanuel Angeles’ plan only “favored profit-oriented higher educational institutions” and were “anti-poor and anti-student.”
“CHEd Chair Angeles is currently listed as member of the Board of Trustees of Angeles University Foundation as its corporate secretary. He has a reputation to have a negative bias towards the poor and marginalized,” said Tamano in a statement.
Vencer Crisostomo, Kabataan Pinoy spokesman, said the planned five-year program was “insensitivity to the difficulty being experienced by the students and parents due to high education and living costs.”
“This policy will cause a significant number of students to drop out from school especially considering that there is a global economic crisis. Instead of coming up with senseless projects like this, the government should focus on lowering education costs and making education more accessible,” he added.
At the same time, CHEd should “overhaul its educational policies” if it really wanted to improve the quality of education, said NUSP national president Alvin Peters.
“The current recommendations of CHEd and the government will only push the country’s education system into a worse crisis. This has been the case for the past years. The government should reverse its policy of deregulation and privatization of education and should raise the budgetary allocation for public higher education,” he said.
MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Faced with an outcry against its proposal to add one more year to courses in college, the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) assured the public that the agency would hold hearings on complaints before deciding whether to implement the policy or not.
CHEd chairman Emmanuel Angeles, in a press conference Monday, said they would hold public hearings as required by law to seek out the public’s views on the CHEd plan to add another year to college courses.
“We are presently studying this matter and consulting nationally, covering 17 regions so we can get feed-back from the stakeholders. Moreover, we are going to hold public hearings in compliance with [the law],” said Angeles.
“I want to assure you that CHEd is doing this review of the curriculum to prepare our young people to be globally competitive so that we will have a chance to survive as a nation,” he said.
A CHEd technical committee, composed of experts in various fields, is currently reviewing proposed changes to the college baccalaureate curriculum. After the review is finished by the end of this month, its findings and proposals will be presented to the major stakeholders in the country’s education system through the public hearings.
But Angeles said that he had made some initial consultations in Ilocos, Central Luzon, Cordillera, Davao and the Western and Central Mindanao regions and the feedback has been positive.
“We are in a democratic system. We are not forcing this down anyone’s throat,” Angeles said.
He said that CHEd might eventually present different “flexible” curriculum proposals and it would be up to the schools to choose whether to have four or five-year courses.
Under the CHEd program dubbed the “Philippine Main Education Highway,” existing courses requiring licensure exams by the Professional Regulation Commission will last five years starting this coming school year. And starting 2010, even non-board courses will also be extended by one year.
The program aims to reform the baccalaureate curriculum in the college level and will be implemented following the “10+2+3 formula” or 10 years of basic education, a two-year pre-university program, and then a final three years of specialization.
This means that, after completing six years in elementary and four years of high school, students can either proceed to vocational training or take a two-year “pre-university program” before finally taking their specialized courses.
Angeles said CHEd proposed the curriculum reform to put the country’s tertiary education system at par with that of other countries.
“Compared with other countries all over the world [except Botswana] our educational system lacks two years. We do not have Grades 11 and 12 … our four years bachelors program has two years only of professional courses because the first two years are devoted to general education courses. In Europe, it is three years,” Angeles said.
“To cover all the important professional courses, the last two years of college is crammed with too many courses, which is not conducive to an effective learning process,” he said.
“As a result, graduates are ill-prepared and more than 50 percent fail in board exams. In some programs, more than 2/3 fails the board examination,” Angeles added.
Angeles claimed that in “overcrowded” four-year courses and the proposed five-year courses, “the cost is almost the same.”
The CHEd chief also said that they proposed the additional year so that degrees taken here in the Philippines would also be recognized in other countries.
“Mutual recognition of qualifications and degrees will be undertaken by countries in the Asia-Pacific region so, we must prepare for it. The qualifications of our graduates must be improved to meet our development goals,” Angeles said.
MANILA, Philippines—An “incestuous” setup within the Department of Education’s book review system is one of the reasons for the perennial problem of error-filled textbooks in the school system, Sen. Edgardo Angara said Monday.
Angara said that up to now the government had yet to implement a provision in a 1995 law, Republic Act No. 8047 or the Book Publishing Industry Development Act, which removes from DepEd’s Instructional Material Corporation (IMC) the power to commission and review books to be used in schools.
The law transfers these powers to the National Book Development Board. But 14 years later, this provision has yet to be implemented.
“We want to take away the exclusive monopoly of the IMC, which is a martial law creation, so we decided the National Book [Development] Board will take charge of commissioning textbooks as well as vetting and reviewing those that go into the school system,” Angara said.
“The reason is I thought the commission and the review of textbooks should be separate from the customer, the customer being the education department. If both are undertaken in-house, it smacks of an incestuous relationship,” he said.
Angara said the provision had not been implemented because of the strong lobby by the book publishing industry.
“There is a lobby, not in a pejorative sense, but there is a pressure group that tries to market textbooks and instruction materials. This is a huge market,” he said.
“It’s really atrocious. We’re robbing our youth. [If the review] is done by an outside independent agency, like the National Book Development Board, then you will get an independent appraisal of the textbooks. Then you can encourage competition among writers of textbooks,” Angara said.
He said the IMC is in charge of selecting the writers of English, Math and Social Science textbooks.
“They designate the writer and the examiner—the one who will review and edit. It smacks of lutong macaw (a charade),” Angara said.