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Saving the Philippine Education, Inc.

July 25, 2007

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo seeks better quality of Philippine education. Her government is willing to spend around P1 trillion in six years – starting from year 2004 – to achieve this academic ambition.
A former economics teacher herself, Mrs. Arroyo has engaged her administration in a medium term investment that would yield a long lasting “positive” result.
Her government believes that education is a key venture that “can break the Filipino’s seemingly endless cycle of poverty.”
With limited resources, how can the economist-CEO manage her new business venture –Philippine Education, Inc.?

High literacy rate vs state of the country
The education sector indubitably plays a very important role in nation building. Based on the human capital theory, the primary function of education is to ignite economic development.
This is anchored on the belief that the more and better educated a people, the bigger the chances of economic growth.
The Philippines is not lagging behind in terms of literacy rate. According to the 2000 Census of Population and Housing, basic or simple literacy rate stood at 92.28 percent, so far one of the highest in Southeast Asia. Functional literacy rate, on the other hand, was pegged at 83.79 percent, based on the 1994 Functional Literacy Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS).
Does it follow now that a country with high literacy and functional literacy rates could easily attain national development?
In our case, the answer may be in the negative, in contrast to what intellectuals believe that the success of a country can be attributed to its thriving educational brand. Most developed countries like Singapore, Australia, Canada and United States attribute their success to their superior educational system.
However, there are countries with low literacy rate like Egypt, Vietnam, and China that are now economic powers in the global market.
What seems to be the problem? What seems to be the X factor that Filipino planners and educators cannot just discover?
Right after her proclamation as the duly elected highest official of the land, Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered officials of the NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) to draft her Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) which was described as the crowning glory of the former.
The Plan contains the niceties of the missions and visions of the Arroyo administration, and its end goal is to alleviate poverty and create wealth. In just 100 days the Arroyo planners, composed of personalities from the government, business, civil society and academe, were able to finish the master plan that would somehow dictate the fate of the country in the next six years, from 2004 to 2010 (see related features article).
This process ensured the plan would reflect the concerns of all sectors of society as well as the needs of the country’s geographic unit.
Due to the President’s order to fast-track the drafting process, no regional consultation has taken place, which was totally in contrast to the objective of the plan that the government has to be more attentive “to the needs of people in the rural areas and cultural communities.”
The Plan consists of five parts, namely, (1) economic growth and job creation; (2) energy; (3) social justice and basic needs; (4) education and youth opportunity; and (5) anti-corruption and good governance.
Chapter 18 of the Plan which talks about the status of the country’s education recognizes the fact that “education is the right of every Filipino.” The planners believe that education can break the Filipino’s seemingly endless cycle of poverty, and that it “provides the people, particularly the youth with more opportunities.”

Education slump
However, it would be impossible to attain this objective if the Filipino brand of education has been draining away.
“The quality of Philippine education has been deteriorating continuously,” states the MTPDP.
It identifies several problems that contribute to this phenomenon.
One problem is that the education sector is becoming more and more dependent on the national government. This situation is even worsened by the ballooning population growth estimated at 2.3 annually.
The Plan pointed out that the government spending for basic education in 2000-2004 increased at an annual average of 4.5 percent. A huge chunk of the budget or about 89 percent of the Department of Education mainly goes to salaries and other personal benefits and expenditures while outlays for developmental purposes are taken from its maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) budget at seven percent. On the other hand, a capital outlay of only four percent goes to classrooms and instructional equipment, including computers for teaching and learning purposes.
Population growth is seen to have aggravated the situation. In fact, the United Nations even urged the government to be more proactive in solving the population increase in the country. It even warned that at present fertility rate, the number of Filipinos would rise to 100 million by 2015.
As of school year (SY) 2003-2004, actual enrolment reached 19.2 million for both public and private schools, of which 17 million were enrolled in public system.
With the rising population and the limited national budget, there is compelling reason to immediately to address issues surrounding the country’s education sector.
There is a problem of quality because there is lack of money to fuel the underlying aspects and facets of education.
Another problem is the growing number of state universities and colleges (SUCs), including their satellite campuses.
Today there are 114 SUCs, apart from their satellite campuses, being directly funded by the national government.
According to a study conducted by the CHED (entitled A Comprehensive Cost Analysis of Degree Programs for Selected Higher Education Institutions), “it is vital that a thorough and in-depth understanding of the myriad issues involved in the financing of education be undertaken in order to develop a policy environment that will lead to its effective promotion.”
The CHED claimed that there is “high dependence” on the national government in the financing of higher education, particularly the SUCs. The 114 SUCs serve only 28.3 percent of higher education institution (HEI) enrollees with outlays ranging from as low as P6,000 to as high as P100,000 per students.
Studies also showed (PCER, 2000; Preddley and Nuqui, 2001) only 25 percent of HEI enrollees belong to the poor income groups.

SUCs growing more dependent
At present the Philippine government is spending over P62,000 per student at UP. Government subsidy is too high compared to the state university’s maximum tuition fee level of only P8,000, considering that a substantial fraction of UP students belong to high income bracket.
The CHED said that the cost per student in SUCs is even much higher than those of private institutions.
“The balancing act has resulted in great deficiencies in basic education manifested by lack of classrooms, textbooks and teachers, and continued unsatisfactory ratings in achievement tests for math, science and language,” says a report by Presidential Commission on Educational Reform.
A smaller budget allocation per SUC springs from the accumulated establishment of SUCs over the years, either through conversion of CHED-supervised institutions (CSI) or legislative intervention.
The CHED adds: “Thus the increase in SUCs as well as the increase in satellite campuses not only increases competition for scarce resources, but it also perpetuates poor quality of education as most of these SUCs have merely been converted from CSIs without regard to their capabilities.”
This situation characterizes the intervention of politicians in the rendition of education services. Some SUCs were creation of politicians, mostly executive officials, for political their own purposes. In the long run most of these SUCs established by city governments would rely on the national government for financing.
Generally, lack of budget is the main reason why there’s a low quality of education.
Education budget for fiscal year 2006 was allotted P119 billion pesos, this is significantly lower (13.31 percent) in terms of percentage share in the national budget, as opposed to last year’s allocation of 12.35 percent.
This ‘money problem’ surfaced last year when Acting Education Sec. Fe Hidalgo reported that the country is still facing classroom shortage. The education official’s revelation embarrassed Pres. Arroyo, who intended to advertise her accomplishment on the area of education during a televised meeting in Malacanang last year.
The deficiency, according to the publicly mortified Hidalgo, was 6,832 classrooms. She based her report on a student-classroom ratio of 45:1 and a single shift per day.
However, Mrs. Arroyo was quick to interrupt and solved the shortage problem by just snap of a finger, or more precisely, by snapping at the education official. The President stressed that the country lacks only around 1,000 based on a ratio of 100:1 and a two-shift scheme.
After lecturing Hidalgo on the “real state” of country’s education, the latter after all admitted that “there’s only a few shortage.”
Hidalgo’s case only confirms that there’s an enduring crisis in education not only because of lack of finances but because there’s denial on the part of the government.

Quality of education poor
The Congressional Planning and Budget Department, in an analysis of the 2007 national budget, blamed the poor quality of education on “the inadequate budget for basic education.” According to the report, the government’s expenditures in 2002 accounted only for 1.9 percent of the country’s gross national product, lagging behind neighboring countries like Mongolia, India, Thailand and Malaysia.
This year’s education budget was put at P162.02 billion, higher by 11 percent compared to last year’s allotment, and accounts for 14.39 percent of the overall budget.
However, there is a steep decline in the total budget from 15.63 percent in 2003 to 14.39 percent in 2007.
The congressional report also said that the average annual growth rate of DepEd’s budget in real terms from 2001 to 2006 has been a negative 3.5 percent. It appears that DepEd has one of the lowest shares of the national budget at 11.96 percent since 1995.
If the sector of education gets a very little attention, where did the most of the budget pie go?
Most of last year’s budget went to maintenance and other operating expenses which received P616.7 billion (58.6 percent), while capital outlays and net lending got P106 billion (10 percent).
On the other hand, the item for personal services got a huge chunk of P330.5 billion, or 31.4 percent, of the total budget pie. Local government units were allocated P166.5 billion, or 15.8 percent.
But among the instrumentalities of the government, one of the most envied in terms of budget allocation is the Department of National Defense (DND).
After Mrs. Arroyo waged war against insurgency, a huge amount of government’s money went to defense.
In 2006, the Armed Forces of the Philippines asked the Congress for internal security operations of P31.9 billion so it can wipe out the New People’s Army by 2010. Such an amount that will be drained in dealing with internal threats forms part of the bulk of P49.3 billion defense budget, which is P2.45 billion, or 8.61 percent higher than that of last year.
Problems that confront education are not only fiscal but political and moral as well.
A government official put it bluntly that the quality of the country’s education has been failing in the past 25 years. The confession is a devastating report card for those who held power in the said period. This also confirms that, aside from the chronic financial crisis and other usual problems in the past, previous administrations failed to put the sector of education on top of their priorities.
Had past presidents been keen on the impact of pedagogy on the future of the country, the Filipino nation would have the best educational system in the region.

Lack of political will
The absence of political will and leadership comes out as one of the contributory factors why the Philippines is now biting dust in the race towards excellence in Southeast Asia. Public funds also lost to corruption.
Surveys revealed that most people think that one of the most corrupt agencies of the government was the Department of Education Culture and Sports, now DepEd. Reports said that some education officials were accused of misusing funds intended to deliver education services to the youth. Anomalies in the procurement of facilities and equipment intended to boost the quality of education in public schools were uncovered by the Commission on Audit in the late ‘90s.
Aside from that, corruption marred the department’s bidding process, procurement and distribution of public school books that would benefit millions of elementary students.
One appalling indicator of the poor state of basic education is the finding by the DepEd that around 130 textbooks in English language instruction and the social sciences for use in public schools are full of grammatical and factual errors.
Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said they are going to look into the ‘poisonous books’ issue. A review team formed by the DepEd found out that said books indeed contain factual and grammatical errors.
Perhaps the main problem is the apparent culture of corruption that continuously hounds the country.
In 2001, the World Bank projected that a total of P1 trillion was lost to corruption in the last 25 years. However, the figure is just small fry compared to the estimation made by Civil Service Commission Chair Karina David, who reported that the government lost $48 billion, or P2.6 trillion, in the last 20 years due to corrupt practices.

Age of globalization
In this age of globalization, the government realized the need to attend to the age-old problem of education. This sector is just one of the scores of headaches that challenges the Arroyo administration.
Based on the MTPDP, the Arroyo administration seeks to alleviate poverty and create wealth in six years. And the sector of education is among the priorities of the Plan.
“Basic education should be anchored on Education For All global movement and Millennium Development Goals [of the United Nations]. To achieve this, the government must deliver quality basic education, provide more resources to schools to widen coverage and improve the management and operations of the public school system,” states the Plan.
At the national level, Arroyo planners target 96.60 percent functional literacy rate among population aged 15 to 25 years old by 2010 and 93.10 percent among 15 year olds and above.
The Plan also mandates that a greater attention and support should be given to the level where actual teaching-learning process takes place.
Among the indicative targets for said term include the improvement of school buildings, adoption of double shift classes, expansion of educational subcontracting program and provision of scholarship and financial assistance program for high school students, and upgrading Mathematics, Science and English teaching and learning in formal basic education.
For those who cannot afford college education, the government adopted the Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET), which is carried out through formal and informal means. TVET, which is dominated by the private sector, aims to help about half a million enrollees under this system.
This is a response to the demand of the industry for more blue-collar workers, an affirmation that there’s not only a mismatch in the skills vis-à-vis the job but also the kinds of graduates in relation to the needs of the labor market.
As for the higher education, the government aspires among others to provide scholarship and student financial assistance to college students, to open alternative learning system (or the distance education program), to mandate the CHED to grant Centers of Excellence (COD) and Centers of Development (COD) to deserving higher education institutions, to update and upgrade curriculum and to develop instruction.
Research, twinning and financing of higher education are also part of the action plans.
On its face value, the plan may look comprehensive and sincere; however, with the prevailing national experience characterized by the ongoing political schism, corruption, budget deficit, fiscal crisis and lack of political will, it appears that the plan is wrought with problems of credibility and viability.

Computer literacy
University of the East Chairman P.O. Domingo also believes the state of Philippine education is in “sad state.”
“The absence of Philippine schools in the most recent list of Top 10 Asian institutions [in year 2004] apart from UP, Ateneo, La Salle reveals the sad state of Philippine education today,” he said.
Domingo, who rescued UE from its near-death in the ‘90s, said the deterioration of springs from the fact that that the impact of our society on our educational system “exceeds by far the system’s resources and capacities.”
He pointed to the decline in the mastery of the English language which is now the lingua franca of the world. He also emphasized the importance of computer literacy, which must be prioritized “if we don’t want to be left far behind.”
True to his words, Chairman Domingo, who presided over the University’s Board of Trustees for over a decade, engaged the first ten years of his administration in the improvement of UE’s computerization. Now, the College of Computer Science and Systems was finally recognized by the CHED as a Center of Development (COD) in IT education.
“Education has become the key to opportunity and advancement all over the modern world. It has become ‘the first choice of modern man and schooling increasingly controls access to careers, opportunities, advancement.” Sadly, he said, “our school are not up to this task” because we “persist in equating education with literary-legal acumen which is why we have become a people who talk and argue too much, rather than work and achieve.”

Subsidizing rich countries
There is no doubt that the goal of the administration is to formally institute a blueprint that would concentrate on the crisis attending the country’s education sector.
But can this administration fully realize this goal if it traverses an uncertain, shaky path towards what it calls national development?
The Arroyo government has made enemies left and right; aside from its promise to combat poverty, it also waged war against the insurgents, opposition bloc, dissenters, and the human rights of the people.
Worse, the Malacanang Palace even widened the political gap with allegations of cheating and election-related irregularities purportedly perpetrated by people surrounding the President.
The President may retain her control over the House of Representatives, again to be led by Rep. Jose De Venecia, but not the Senate, as Genuine Opposition candidates dominated the last May 14 polls.
This scenario does not guarantee quick legislation.
The adoption of double shift classes is as debatable as the claim of the President last year that there was indeed no classroom shortage. The Plan states: “Available classrooms will be maximized, with DepEd providing electricity and security expenses.”
This is in contrast to what experts say that more than 40 students per class is not an ideal system, much less a two-shift system. Will it not defeat the purpose, which is to boost the quality of Philippine education?
It is sad that the Arroyo Planners failed to point out one reason why this “crisis in quality” persists. Brain drain, or the continuous exodus of Filipino professionals and world class workers, which includes teachers, contributes much to the problem. The ill effects of globalization have already inflicted not only the country’s labor market, but also the sector of education.
Colleges and universities breed future professionals who dream of finding greener pastures abroad. The government spends billions of pesos to higher education whose institutions educate potential “brain drain.”
Unemployment and underemployment – these are the best recruiters of overseas Filipino workers, professionals and domestic helpers alike.
Government’s normative financing, scholarship grants, and other educational programs will remain futile without first solving the country’s unemployment and underemployment crisis.
It is distressing that the Philippines that still remains a third world, third rate country spends much on future world class workers for the benefit of rich and developed countries. With this setup, this government does not only subsidize the next generation, it also sponsors the world’s powerful empires.

Footnotes:
Jonathan M. Hicap, Low budget affects quality of education (Manila Times, December 12, 2006)
Maricel V. Cruz, House rushes budget measures (Manila Times, January 25, 2006)
Sun Star, RP lacks 6,832 classrooms: education official (May 31, 2006)
Philip Tubeza, AFP seeks P31-B budget to fight Reds (September 22, 2006)
Carlos H. Conde, Philippines most corrupt, survey says (March 13, 2007)
Annie Ruth C. Sabangan, At Customs, corruption is institutionalized and systematic (January 06, 2004)
Arnold S. Tenorio, Medium-term plan: Can it work? (December 02, 2004)
Commission on Higher education Official Website
Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. terrorhatred permalink
    March 3, 2008 3:38

    You’re a piece of crap, and you know it.
    And a stinking parasite.

  2. March 11, 2008 3:38

    Well if that’s the definition you give to people who courageously speak of the truth, then I accept it with pleasure.

  3. joy permalink
    April 12, 2008 3:38

    thanks 4 da info …but cud u email me the resources u used to make this infor because i’m doing a project on the education in the philippines pls …thanks^-^

  4. klang123 permalink
    April 27, 2008 3:38

    Don’t despair! Here is the good news: All Students (Undergrad and High School students of the Philippines, especially to those who are not taking summer classes) come to Cebu City and join the 2nd International Forum on World Englishes at the Parklane Hotel on April 29-30. Special fee for students: Php 1,500 (2 days, incl. lunch buffet, materials, certificates of attendance). We all like to hear your voice! (P.S. Speakers include: Dr. Isagani Cruz and other international professors who will share their expertise on education). Hope to see you there!

  5. klang123 permalink
    April 27, 2008 3:38

    For info, please email Prof. Crina: cdescabarte@upv.edu.ph or txt/call: (0917) 3060738

  6. Souquero D'Cocco permalink
    August 7, 2008 3:38

    Poor people blame the President for their state of poverty. They should blame themselves first for raising so many children without realizing that at the end, they will not be able to give them a good education and decent livelihood. The right solution: Castrate those fathers who could not afford to send their children to school. All homosexuals spreading syphillis and AIGS should have their poopholes be plugged with hot chileng labuyo from Bicol.

  7. August 8, 2008 3:38

    That is not the best solution. Castrating is equivalent to death for male human species. If that’s the case, why not kill those who steal from the people. Billions of dollars are devoured by corrupt people every year.

  8. beast master permalink
    August 24, 2008 3:38

    The right solution: Castrate those fathers who could not afford to send their children to school. All homosexuals spreading syphillis and AIGS should have their poopholes be plugged with hot chileng labuyo from Bicol. – what a good idea!

  9. August 24, 2008 3:38

    thanks… you’re one of my avid readers. i can follow your trace here. i know you’ve been reading my blogs. that’s a very clever idea. you do not only castrate them. you should kill them. the homos and the closet queens who desperately hide their identity like Roy Cohn… (there are lots like him). but first, there must be vigilantes who should torture and kill those abusive of power and their alipures… i wish there were vigilantes existing today… in truth, i’m not against the idea of killing so long as it is for a cause… there are lots of people in these parts who do not deserve to live not even a minute longer…

  10. February 19, 2009 3:38

    very, very brave. 😉
    hail to UE Dawn.

  11. bev permalink
    May 29, 2010 3:38

    how about curriculum planning and development???????????????

  12. March 1, 2014 3:38

    Wow, that’s what I was seeking for, what a information!
    present here at this web site, thanks admin of this website.

  13. March 13, 2014 3:38

    I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you
    design this website yourself or did you hire someone to
    do it for you? Plz answer back as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to know
    where u got this from. thanks

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