What the Philippines Could Learn from the United States

There is no question that the Philippine basic education system needs our attention. K to 12 education in the United States likewise faces serious challenges. One big thing that the US has as an advantage is that it is a much wealthier country. Nevertheless, basic education in the US still requires our attention. Incidentally, what the US needs to examine is also relevant to the Philippines. So perhaps, the Philippines can learn from the mistakes that the US is making.

Natalie Wexler, an education journalist, recently wrote an opinion in Forbes.

Above copied from Forbes

The three mistakes are:

The above also contains links that illustrate how much emphasis legislators, nonprofit organizations, education policy makers are giving on these items. The main problem is that none of this really addresses the problems of basic education.

As stated in so many instances within this blog, problems in basic education do not begin at the high school level. In fact, most of the problems are in the early years of education. The Philippines has taken the same wrong path with its new K-12 curriculum, thinking that the problem lies in high school. Elementary school children in the Philippines are failing as early as fourth grade. Once these children are behind and their needs are not met in the succeeding years, it is really impossible for these students to finish high school with competency. 

It is true that teachers in the Philippines are lacking in knowledge as seen in their performance on licensure exams as well as on the exams that their students take. It is equally true that teachers in the Philippines are also having a difficult time making ends meet. It is also true that teachers are not supported. There is always a lack of good quality learning materials and school infrastructure. An effective teacher is only one factor. Students from poor families require a lot and yet, teachers who are helping these children do not receive the assistance they need to do their job. 

Similar to what is happening in the US, the Philippines also has its own set of standardized exams in English, Filipino, Math, Science and Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies in English). These exams are supposed to be used only to gauge the education system as a whole. These should not be used as formative assessment tools. These exams cannot be used to guide instruction. These exams severely narrow down the scope of education because it fails to address the importance of music, arts and physical education. 

Reform in education is needed but first, we need to know and understand the problems. Otherwise, we will be making the same mistakes over and over. The US may have the money to waste on unwise reforms. Unfortunately, the Philippines does not.