^

The cycle of education

ROSES & THORNS - Alejandro R. Roces () - June 22, 2010 - 12:00am

Based on statistics published by the United Nations and the Philippine government, our education system is in serious need of reform. Throwing money though at the problem does not make a solution. There must be a comprehensive reform plan in place to address the systemic issues; if not, money spent is money wasted.

Indeed, today our education system not only needs an infusion of funds, it needs an overhaul. We have consistently pointed out that prior to Martial Law the dominant portion of the budget went to education. Back then, our education system was one of the best in Asia. Today though we must turn a critical eye to our education system and develop new solutions. What we have been doing has not necessarily worked.

In 2000, as a corollary to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization with member countries crafted the Education for All (EFA) goals. As with the Millennium Development Goals, the target date was 2015. There are six EFA goals, the leading one being universal primary school enrolment. Part and parcel of getting students in school must be ensuring that the quality of education they are receiving is improved.

From the 2009 EFA Report: “The Philippines provides a particularly striking example of underperformance. With an average income four times that of the United Republic of Tanzania or Zambia, it has a lower net enrolment ratio. The unfavorable comparisons do not end there. Whereas the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia have been steadily increasing net enrolment ratios, the Philippines has stagnated. Given the country’s starting point in 1999, achieving universal primary education by 2015 should have been a formality. There is now a real danger that, in the absence of decisive political leadership, the country will miss the goal.” For us to be underperforming compared to those countries there must be some sort of inefficiency in our systems, or in what we are doing.

Part of the re-engineering of our education system is the need to move to a 12-year cycle. Of countries in the region, we are the only one that is not on a 12-year basic education cycle. The argument for the move focuses on the depth of education. Namely, that with an added two years there will be added opportunity to properly explore, explain and practice concepts and ideas. Our education is out of step with the rest of the world: we have even heard stories of Filipinos who go abroad to study being asked to take remedial courses before entering a university.

The 2009 EFA Report identifies a few of the problems facing Philippine education system. First is our relative low level of funding compared to our regional neighbors. In 2005, the East Asian average of 3.6% of GDP was spent on education, in the Philippines we spent 2.3% of GDP. Additional funding will help in developing classrooms, teacher training (and hiring) and additional textbooks and basic supplies. As it is, the numbers indicate that in urban schools only 70% of grade 4 facilities has basic essentials like toilets and blackboards; among rural schools that number is 50%.

Second, the poor sectors of the country have been marginalized when it comes to education, in terms of quality and opportunity. From the EFA 2009 Report: “Data on school attendance provide evidence that current policies are not reaching the poorest. Around 6% of 7- to 16-year-olds from the poorest households are reported as not attending school or to have ever attended. Extreme economic inequalities fuel education inequalities, notably by pushing many children out of school and into employment.” One program that has been advocated are expanded conditional cash transfer programs; in this case, linked to education conditions.

Education reform is not a luxury, it is a necessity. There must be a plan in place to address the inefficiencies and inequalities in the system, based on the realities of Philippine education.

EAST ASIAN EDUCATION EFA MARTIAL LAW MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION SYSTEM UNITED NATIONS AND THE PHILIPPINE UNITED NATIONS EDUCATION UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA WHEREAS THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA AND ZAMBIA
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Recommended
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with