"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Remedial Education: A Bridge to Nowhere?


The K to 12 program, according to DepEd, answers what elementary school children are failing to learn. The Philippines has performed poorly in the international standardized exams for Grade 4 pupils. Each year, the average scores of elementary pupils fail to reach the passing mark in national achievement exams. It is clear that basic education in the Philippines is not working that well even at the primary level. "Do not leave for tomorrow, what you can do today." This is as old as "First things first".

The video above talks about a valedictorian candidate from an elementary school. The principal is worried that even the top student from this primary school may find high school difficult. With the lack of learning materials and equipment, grade school children are not being prepared for high school. For example, there are more than six hundred elementary school students that share one computer. Most of the time, students see these learning facilities only in pictures. Even the libraries are empty. Thus, it is not surprising that most students do not pass achievement exams. Teachers emphasize that elementary schools really need better facilities. DepEd responds that this lack in elementary schooling will be addressed by the enhanced K to 12 curriculum.

The picture looks even worse when one considers the Quick Counts Data of DepEd on elementary and high schools. High school has less teachers, less classrooms, less desks. Take, for example, the case of Paete, Laguna. The town has three public elementary schools in its poblacion, but there is only one public high school and it is not as big as the three elementary schools combined. At the national level, the number of teachers in elementary schools is approximately twice the number of teachers in high school. If problems in elementary schools are not addressed at the earlier stages, one may guess that problems would only get worse in high school. And if problems remain in high school, we will do remediation in college. Do we know remedial education? The following is a good place to start:


The above reminds me of my years at the Ateneo. During my freshman year, students were placed in English classes. My English was deemed poor so I was enrolled in one of the lower sections. And in those sections, there was apparently a cap in the expected performance of students. Students could only dream of getting C's and D's. I got a D in the first semester and a C in the next. Only my grades in chemistry and math made it possible for me to stay in college.

If we are thinking about remedial education in high school, we probably should look at:


Both papers highlight evidence-based research. The Department of Education in the United States created in 2002 the What Works Clearinghouse with the goal of providing a central and trusted source of scientific evidence for what works in education. Mark Rohland of Temple University writes a description of this clearinghouse in the following:
So what does scientific evidence say about remediation? It is not yet clear what programs actually work but what is clear is that remediation is difficult work. It is difficult in college, it is difficult in ninth grade. 

Do not leave for tomorrow, what you can do today....


  1. Remediation is something that can and should be part of every classroom from elementary school through college. Students who have a disadvantage may need a leg up, but so do students who have chosen not to work in the past and who are now making the choice to engage. Whatever age students turn their minds towards schoolwork is the age they need the most educational effort. THe biggest enemy to school success here in the US is apathy by students, parents, and the communities. When teachers fight that apathy they are overwhelmed.

  2. May I ask what the legal basis of remedial education in the Philippines is?