STEM Situation

With about 20 million pupils in public schools, to achieve a 30:1 pupil to teacher ratio (which is still quite high), about 670,000 teachers are needed. Depending on who is counting, shortages in teachers in Philippines public schools range from zero (this is from LIARS) to more than 100,000. The numbers really depend on whether one includes volunteers as well as those who are counting those who teach two classes as two teachers. The shortage in teachers is quite different from shortages in classrooms and textbooks. Classrooms can be built with enough construction materials, a lot, and labor. Textbooks can be written and published, requiring only a team of authors, editors, reviewers and publishers. Filling teachers' shortages, however, require so much more. The teaching profession requires individuals who are both motivated and capable.

With the introduction of K+12 and a spiral curriculum in both science and mathematics, the need for teachers in these fields has increases substantially. This does not even include the fact that science and mathematics are now seen as very important fields in addressing the challenges of the 21st century. Take the United States for example. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology noted in 2010 that the US needs 25,000 teachers in K-12 Science and Mathematics per year. For the US to remain competitive, ten thousand of these teachers must be of high quality. The next step then after seeing the demand is to examine the supply. Can US schools deliver what is needed?

To answer this question, ACT, an independent, nonprofit organization that provides assessment, research, information, and program management services in the broad areas of education and workforce development, published the following report:

To read this report, visit ACT-STEM Educator Pipeline
The ACT test is one of the standardized exam taken by high school students. About half of those who aspire to go to college take this exam. The other half take the SAT test. Thus, in the ACT report above, the required ten thousand high quality STEM teachers has been reduced to 4,000. First, 2,000 of these teachers are assumed to come from non-traditional routes (An example is a chemist professor like me deciding to teach in high school). Of the 8,000, half would have taken SAT while the other half have taken ACT. Thus, the target number if 4,000, if only ACT test takers are considered. Whether there is ample supply or not to meet this demand, the answer is as follows:

The numbers above clearly show that if high quality STEM teachers can only come from those who are both qualified and interested, the supply will end up short. Only 2502 will be met, leaving 37% of the demand unmet. The ACT report concludes:

This is the situation in the United States. In the Philippines, it is useful to remind us of the following data:

The above shows the current situation for math and science education in the Philippines. Below is a closer look at the current situation of teacher education:

Combine the above pieces of information and one can easily arrive at the conclusion that the situation of STEM education in elementary and high schools in the Philippines looks really bleak. People can miraculously make shortages in classrooms and textbooks disappear. But when a politician, policy maker, cabinet secretary makes the proclamation that teachers' shortages are things of the past, you know quite well that nothing could be further from the truth.


  1. John Vincent SalayoApril 10, 2015 at 12:25 AM

    Thanks for the data. Now let's see how we can address the shortage...


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