A blog that tackles issues on basic education (in the Philippines and the United States) including early childhood education, the teaching profession, math and science education, medium of instruction, poverty, and the role of research and higher education.
Subscribe to this blog
Follow by Email
Could the Philippines Afford a Year Without School?
Philippines president Duterte recently stated that he will not allow schools to be opened this coming school year without a vaccine against the novel corona virus. Of course, without a vaccine in sight for at least 18 months from now, this suggests that schools may be closed for the entire school year. Distance learning is likewise not feasible since a large number of students do not have access to laptops and the internet. So, perhaps, the Philippines can use this time to reboot its educational system. After all, the past years have shown that basic education in the Philippines has been failing miserably.
The COVID-19 situation in the Philippines, like in most countries in the globe, does not look promising. Testing is obviously not widely available in the Philippines so it is not known how widespread COVID-19 really is. As of today, less than 0.3 percent of the population have been tested and about 5 percent of those who have been tested turned positive. This is certainly much better than most states in the US, but with a very low testing rate and without random sampling, one cannot rely on the current data and trend. During the past 24 hours, the country just reported its highest number of cases discovered for a day, 539.
Since COVID-19 has been widespread for the past few months, it is clear that person-to-person transmission occurs readily in indoor spaces. Even without social distancing of 6 feet between pupils, classrooms in schools in the Philippines are already overcrowded. Some schools even employ multiple shifts in some urban areas. The Philippines cannot possibly open schools without dramatically increasing the COVID-19 infection rate. Thus, the Philippines president is indeed justified to keep schools closed until a vaccine is available.
This one year suspension of classes is a time that can be used to reexamine the basic educational system in the country. It is a time to look closely at the curriculum. It is an opportunity to address the technology challenges of the schools. If schools are closed, at least, someone should correct the numerous errors found in schools' textbooks. Perhaps, something could be achieved this year, something better than students spending another year in failing schools.
With the new K to 12 curriculum in the Philippines, various tracks are now offered in the last two years of basic education. The various options available obviously make it possible for students to find themselves later unprepared for the courses they decide to take in college. A student, for instance, who finishes the accounting business management (ABM) strand in the senior high school academic track, is now required to take additional courses if the student chooses to enroll in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) major in college. These additional courses which are now called "bridging programs" are either taken during the first year of college or over several weeks in the summer before college starts.
There are bridging programs in the United States, but these are different from the ones that are now appearing in colleges in the Philippines. In Coldwater High School in Michigan, for example, the "bridging program" is an option for students…
There is information to be gained from data. Tests in schools can be informative. Scores of students provide a quick glimpse of the current state of education. Thus, it is useful to have these numbers. These numbers may not tell everything in detail with high accuracy. Nevertheless, test results allow for a useful perspective. The National Achievement Test administered by the Department of Education (DepEd) in the Philippines, a set of standardized tests addressing the major subjects taught in school, is an example. These tests are given to Grade 3 where students are assessed in both English and Filipino (These two subjects comprise two thirds of the exam) and Math and Science (These two account for the remaining one third). A different set of tests is given to Grade 6 pupils where each of the following 5 subjects is assigned 40 items: (Science, Math, English, Filipino and Social Studies). Another set is administered to fourth year high school students (This is currently the last year…
My spouse and I have spent the largest fraction of our lives in this community called Annandale. Last night, my wife help organized a march. In the words of another resident, James Albright: "First protest I have ever known of in Annandale. Hundreds upon hundreds protesting in front of Mason District police station". We did not expect a very large crowd, yet hundreds of families from Annandale came, which actually made social distancing very challenging. It started with a march along Columbia Pike from Barcroft Center to the Mason District Police Station. Inside the parking lot of the police station, people knelt in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the same amount of time a police officer knelt on George Floyd during his final moments. Afterwards, the people, adults and children, of Annandale spoke up.
Names of African Americans brutally killed by the police were read by the son of Ricardy Anderson, Mason District representative to the Fairfax County School Board. Ander…