The Stagnation of the Philippine Educational System

Education is the most important aspect in the development of an individual, and as well as a nation. It is the trait that helps us become well-rounded people ready to encounter all obstacles and problems put before us, and overcome them. Without the proper education, life will be very difficult for people to live since they are not prepared to deal with its challenges. Unfortunately, in the Philippines, the education provided to its citizens are well below the standards expected, thus leaving these people with difficult circumstances to overcome each day. As the years progress, the country fails to rise these said standards and thus bring an insufficient education for the public. This has led to the non-progression of the Filipinos as people and the Philippines as a state.

The Philippines has one of the highest rates of decline in educational standards throughout the world at present. This is due to the insufficient education being brought to the classrooms throughout the archipelago. Most countries have overtaken the Filipinos in terms of quality in education and they are slowly dropping among the world excellence. And the future does not seem so bright to for the Philippines because of the deteriorating trend experienced by their educational system. The educational system in the Philippines has not progressed in the past decades because of the lack of government support and the apathy of the Filipinos towards the inferior quality of education provided them.

The educational system in the Philippines is stagnated at its present state. This text aims to show the educational system in the Philippines, its background as well as its present structure. Then, the status of the educational system throughout history and the problems experienced by it along with the measures taken. Finally, to depict the stagnation of the system from the past, the reasons and the possible solutions for progress.

Education is a concept that does not lend itself to easy and straightforward generalizations. Traditionally, it is regarded as something that goes on in schools. Education is also referred to as learning. Although learning and education are closely related, they are not the same. True, education occurs through the process of learning but the learning process does not always lead to education. Unlike other learning processes that are naturally occurring, schooling is continuous, deliberate and a systematic process. Schooling may or may not attain its educational objectives for some reason.

Schooling is brought on by schools, which in turn are part of a larger network along with other schools. This larger network is what is known as the educational system, which delivers education to its students.

An education system maybe conceptualized as an institutionalized process of knowledge transmission, which takes place within a structure of power relationships through which constraints are operated

As a social institution, education has three principal aspects. First, selection mechanisms support and are directly affected by prevailing social relations in a society. Second, consciousness formation focuses on the ways by which knowledge is brought to the students in order to produce a variety of ways of looking at the world. Finally, power distribution refers to the allocation of control in educational decision-making.

The Philippine school system presently is a huge network of schools and a gigantic enterprise. Today, the system is largely a product of the country’s colonial experience. Undoubtedly, the school system introduced by the Spaniards and later by the Americans was functional in its assumptions and orientations. Schools were established by these colonial powers to socialize the people into their colonial statuses and roles and to develop the knowledge, attitudes and skills required of subservient and loyal subjects.

Under Spain, the natives were taught literacy in order for them to read and learn Christian doctrines. Early education under the Spaniards was mainly in the hands of Catholic missionaries whose chief objective was to Christianize the people and convert them to the Catholic religion. However, the elementary and secondary education in the Philippines has its roots in the American colonial period in the country. In 1901, the US colonial government through a military commission issued Act No. 74 which created a Department of Public Instruction “to insure a system of free primary instruction for the Filipino people”. This led to the establishment of a public system of education patterned after the American public school system. With it came American textbooks, equipment and English as the teaching medium, which is presently still in use.

Structurally, the Philippine education system comprises five levels: early childhood education for children aged 4-6 years, formal basic education which covers 6 years of elementary education (entrance at age 6) and 4 years of secondary education, non-formal adult education, post-secondary vocational-technical education and tertiary education.

There is at present no regulatory agency for early childhood education; formal basic education and non-formal adult education are under DECS; post-secondary voc-tech education under TESDA and tertiary education under CHED.

Over the past decades, the Philippine educational system has experienced numerous problems and conflicts due to the insufficient resources being provided by the government. The rapid and unsystematic expansion of the system of education in the Philippines has created interlocking problems. The general indictment is that the formal school system has over-expanded at the expense of quality education; the school system has been wasteful, elitist, reactive, neocolonial, irrelevant and unable to anticipate future developments and needs of the country and people.

There are primarily two main causes for concern of the welfare of Philippine Education. The first would be an over expansion and dwindling resources for education. The Philippine educational system appears to be one of the most expanded on the world. Participation rates are relatively higher than any other country in the Southeast Asian region. The growth in enrolment and increase in participation rates, however, have not been matched by a corresponding increase in the budget for education as a percentage of the total national budget. The lack of quality teachers, textbooks, materials and resources for a decent education are offspring of the problem of the lack of funding.

The next would be a wasteful and ineffective school system in the country. In surveys conducted with students, they have constantly showed that the academic achievement of pupils have fallen below set standards. The low level of performance of is further aggravated by the high incidence of dropouts among elementary school students. High School students are also observed to be ill prepared for any gainful occupation, and for college education.

Continually, numerous commissions and task forces have been assigned to study the present state of the educational system, give feedback and propose remedies to improve the system. However, these commissions fail to accomplish their assigned task because their recommendations are usually not turned into concrete measures to improve the system. If ever they are implemented, it only lasts for a while because the government and the people fail to sustain the essence of the remedies. The Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM) and personal studies and research are examples of this. The continuous cycle of this events seem to repeat themselves year after year, decade after decade without seeing no end to it. Indeed the educational system seems headed nowhere as of present.

There is a non-progression or stagnation with the educational system in the Philippines because of two primary reasons, namely the lack of government funding and the apathetic nature of the Filipino public towards the low level of education provided them.

As stated above, the system does not receive enough support from the government to establish the resources needed for a quality education. Even though education already receives the largest allocation of funds, it still does not meet up to the required quota because of the over expanding growth of the number of pupils in the youth today. The increase of enrollees exceeds the amount the government gives that would be suitable for a proper education. Students could not be turned down since the constitution states that every Filipino has the right to an education.

The Filipino public meanwhile continues to complain about the low level of education given to them by the government. They have adopted the wait and see approach, wherein they just wait for the better education to fall right unto the doorsteps of these said institutions. They have not made their point of asking for better standards of education, and if they have, the call has not been heard or given an able response by the government.

On the contrary, the Filipino should instead focus on getting the best education at present and then work for an improvement of the standards of the current education and bring it the highest level possible. An eight-step process was developed to find solutions to the deficiencies of the educational system, which will hopefully achieve its purpose of delivering an enhanced education to the long awaiting and deserving Filipino public.

First, our people are very much afflicted by the “diploma disease” or the inordinate drive for educational qualifications earning as against obtaining an education. One way of curing ourselves of this disease is to demand of our schools quality education and educated individuals with demonstrated capabilities for self-development and creative participation in our economic, political and cultural life. We must give importance to the substance or to the added value that a person can demonstrate as a result of schooling, rather than the shibboleths of schooling such as the certificate or diploma.

Second, we must recognize and develop the potential of informal education for developing certain talents and abilities more expeditiously, effectively and economically than the formal school system.

Third, the traditional response to accommodating the increasing social demand for education by “linear expansion” should be replaced by a strategy of innovation in the modes of delivering education, management of educational resources and in the content of education. A proactive or anticipatory orientation is needed if schools are to serve as effective partners of national progress.

Fourth, tolerating unequal access to educational opportunities by condoning mediocre education for the poor in the face of quality education must be stopped. The root causes of these inequalities, among which are the uneven accesses to quality education due to geography, natural resources and educational practices must be addressed by policy. A concrete step in this direction is the identification and development of Centers of Excellence in strategic places throughout the country particularly in the pre-service and in-service training of teachers and in other fields of specialization and professions. A National Accrediting Agency may also be considered to maintain standards, quality and prevent proliferation of tertiary programs.

Fifth, the formal educational system must be restructured in recognition of the existence and distinctive strengths of the formal and informal educational sub-systems. It may be worthwhile to consider an educational structure where the formal school sub-system, serving as the core of the country’s educational system, will leave the function of specific gainful skills training to non-school agencies and concentrate on basic education. It must be responsible for education in the professions and highly specialized skills.

Sixth, with the implementation of a free public secondary education, a thorough revamp of the curriculum of secondary education is needed to make it both terminal and college preparatory so as to provide secondary school graduates the option to either proceed to college or join the labor force.

Seventh, consistent with the Filipinos belief that college education is an economic and social investment, only those who are likely to benefit the most from a college education should be admitted to college, with the government providing financial assistance to deserving but poverty-stricken students.

Eighth, the heart of educational reform in the Philippines calls for a bold policy that will minimize the dependence of the Philippine Educational System on Western and American education. The first important step in this direction is to shorten the transition from bilingualism, the use of both English and Filipino, to the use of Filipino as the primary medium for instruction in our elementary and secondary schools with the vernacular or regional language as auxiliary language of instruction. This does not rule out learning other foreign languages. The need for instructional materials in the national language must be met without further delay.

Noticeably, the state of the Philippine Educational System is at a point of stagnation, if not even worse in decline. Over the past decades, the problems the system has encountered have been identified by the government agencies and commissions tasked to restructure it. However, they have only been identified and rarely given the effort to be corrected for a more efficient system. Decade after decade, the same problems were pointed out but still no response was made to solve them. Without proper direction, the trend of non-involvement of the people and of the government to restructure the present system would continue on to the succeeding generations. They will also be provided with an inferior quality of education and hinder them from growing as individuals, and more importantly, growing as a nation ready to compete on the world stage.

Perhaps the greatest challenge is not only for the public to stand up and ask for better quality of education, but for the universities to undertake serious self-study to determine how they can best perform their role in the effort to meet the identified public needs. After all, universities are part of society and cannot expect to develop as institutions except as they help to solve the problems of the nation. Cooperation between universities and its students would lead to better outcomes for the nation. Ultimately, it is left to the Filipino people to make the most out of the opportunity. Aside from demanding for better resources and better quality of education, they should also strive hard and work with the situation given. Not much will be gained if the public continues to be apathetical to the cause of better norms of education. Even if the situation is not ideal, the Filipino should strive hard for an education. If progress is seen, the standards of education would be raised and the best will be brought out in every Filipino. This would be the first step for a brighter and better future in the Philippines.