Wake Up, Philippines!

Growing illiteracy

Posted in Editorial, Education, Illiteracy by Erineus on April 24, 2009

Updated April 24, 2009 12:00 AM

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Once upon a time Asians came to the Philippines to avail themselves of top-quality education. Today, despite free, compulsory elementary and high school education, an estimated 5.2 million Filipinos are illiterate. The country also has one of the highest dropout rates in Asia, worse than the situation in Indonesia and even Vietnam.

These disheartening facts come from the Department of Education, whose officials want stronger literacy programs for both youths and adults. DepEd officials warn that the growing illiteracy rate would take its toll on the economy. Illiteracy and the slide in the quality of Philippine education are already taking their toll on national competitiveness, as shown in numerous international surveys.

Local executives must show leadership in improving the nation’s literacy level. A literacy mapping project undertaken by the Department of the Interior and Local Government among fifth and sixth class municipalities – the most economically backward in the country – showed that literacy programs were not making much impact. DILG officials observed that literacy programs were not given priority by certain local governments.

Education programs have rarely attracted politicians’ interest. Some politicians, believing that patronage thrives on poverty and poor education, deliberately shelve programs to raise literacy levels and improve the quality of education in their jurisdictions. In some underdeveloped areas, there are simply not enough funds for literacy programs.

But the problem cannot be left to fester. In the global economy, quality education is indispensable. Development is accelerated in countries that give priority to educating their citizens. Emerging economic powers including China and India are investing heavily in public education, providing their people with the tools they need to excel in a highly competitive global environment. Countries that do not treat education with the same urgency risk being left behind. In the Philippines, educators themselves are sounding the alarm. It would be folly to ignore the warning.



Posted in DepEd, Editorial, Education, Facts and Figures by Erineus on February 24, 2009

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.

Philippine Star
Updated June 08, 2008 12:00 AM

CHEd talks set on extra year in college

Posted in CHEd, DepEd, Education by Erineus on February 3, 2009

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.

By Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 12:58:00 02/02/2009