"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

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Current State of Philippines Basic Education

Back in June of 2016, the staff of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/ The World Bank produced a report on Basic Education in the Philippines. The report mainly examines how funds flow from the Department of Education and how these are spent in the schools. The report notes lack of transparency as well as efficiency, which greatly reduces the benefits of greater funding. However, even with an efficiently run bureaucracy, factors that negatively affect learning outcomes are very much present.

These factors are:

(1) Teacher quality

The report notes:
"With the exception of English at the elementary level, the average elementary or high school teacher could answer fewer than half of the questions on the subject content tests correctly. Since these tests are closely aligned with the curriculum, the results suggest that teachers face significant challenges in teaching a considerable portion of the current curriculum."
The following figure from the report tells a lot about the lack of subject content mastery of teachers in the Philippines: Most teachers cannot even answer half of the questions correctly.


(2) School infrastructure

There still exists a shortage in classrooms:
"For example, in 2014 the average high school in a highly urbanized city had approximately 1,700 students compared with about 1,000 and 570 students in city and municipality schools respectively. Around 30 percent of high schools in these highly urbanized cities have student instructional room ratios in excess of 55:1."
The poor quality of school infrastructure is likewise highlighted in a figure provided by the report:


(3) Inequity

Resources are not channeled to where these are most needed. The report concludes:
"Schools serving poorer students tended to be more resource-constrained than wealthier schools... ...For example, poorer students tended to go to high schools that had teachers with more limited knowledge of their subject areas. They also tended to go to schools with lower levels of discretionary funding and those that reported having implemented only a minimal amount of school-based management."
This fact is demonstrated in the following figure from the report where schools in highly urbanized cities face greater shortage in resources :


Aside from taking actions to improve teacher quality and increasing funds for school infrastructure, the report also notes the following factors that may help to increase learning outcomes. First, limiting the size of the school may improve the delivery of basic education since smaller schools tend to perform better.


Lastly, parental involvent also correlates with bettwe performance.


What is crystal clear from this report is that the problems basic education faces in the Philippines go far beyond the curriculum. Adding two years at the end of high school does not address any of the problems cited above. DepEd K to 12 only exacerbates the problems by stretching even further the limited resources schools are already facing in the Philippines.


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