19 October 2010

Raising the bar of Philippine education

Adding two years to the Philippine education cycle is necessary, but would work only if the shortage for classrooms and books would be met first. It just won’t if Filipino students would spend another two years in school just to be at par with the ‘global standard.’

The proposal has also divided the two chambers of Congress. Party-list representative Antonio Tinio of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers thinks the Department of Education (DepEd) should just ‘come up with a solution on how to increase the number of Filipino students finishing high school.’ The former teacher himself could not see how this plan would ‘keep up with the rapidly growing population.’

Rep. Salvador Escudero 3rd of the House Committee on Basic Education would also support adding two years to the basic curriculum ‘if certain college courses will also be shortened.’ Escudero 3rd obtained a degree in veterinary medicine after seven years when it is only a four-year course in other countries.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, on the other hand, believes that this is ‘needed.’ “Adding two more years is painful for others, but for the country, we have to do it. It is the future of the country. We have to find the money.” The problem lies in the pocket. “We do not want to change course even when it is necessary,”

The chairman of the Senate committee on education, Sen. Edgardo Angara, agrees. “Our graduates, especially in the fields of engineering, nursing, architecture and science, are considered second-class professionals in the global workforce because of our 10-year basic education [cycle], which falls short of the world’s 12-year standard.” Angara is a former president of the University of the Philippines

Pilipina Ako favors adding two years to the Philippine education cycle. Currently, the country ranks 75th among 125 countries in the Education Development Index conducted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

And at least, the government is considering education in its priority list now. “The few times it crops up in the public discourse are when campus militants protest rising tuition and other school fees,” columnist Dan Mariano observed. “Most of the world’s biggest economies set aside an average of four percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) for education. Others—including Norway, Malaysia, France, South Africa and Saudi Arabia—spend even more. The oil-rich Middle Eastern kingdom, for instance, plows back 9.5 percent of its GDP in education.”

That’s a lot greater than the 2.1% allotted to our education sector in 2005! In her study, Rosario Manasan of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) found out that the country is ‘one of the lowest spenders on education in Asia and worldwide.’ Even Sri Lanka spends more!

Education Secretary Armin Luistro would also come up of a program that would enable everyone ‘to seek livelihood opportunities,’ may they only be high school graduates. The upgrade would be broken into six years of elementary school, four years of junior high school, and two years of senior high school. This would be implemented in 2012.


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