New curriculum to improve math, science education

Published by rudy Date posted on March 17, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – Why has science and mathematics education in the Philippines deteriorated?

According to a University of the Philippines (UP) expert, this is because local education persisted in using an obsolete discipline-based curriculum in math and science (which is mostly by rote and without much inquiry and high level of thinking) already rejected as early as 1993 by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

Dr. Merle Tan, UP NISMED (National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development) director, said the present math and science curriculum has produced questionable results in the performance of students in the yearly achievement tests which are below those in other countries.

Also, Tan said, the present curriculum does not consider the high drop-out rate in local education and is not responsive to the needs of students who might leave school at a particular grade level.

“There seems to be a serious gap between science and mathematics education as it is practiced and the science and math education knowledge and skills needed for day-to-day living,” she said, citing a 2007 UP NISMED study as basis for her observation.

Tan said a review of the math and science curricula in elementary and high school showed that topics are compartmentalized, inquiry is not encouraged, contents are overcrowded, concepts are by rote, and topics are repetitive.

She said students in other countries are performing better because: concepts are dealt with in more depth, ideas and skills are introduced with increasing levels of complexity and in real-life situation, and connections across topics and disciplines and development of scientific literacy are emphasized.

Tan, in a speech before the 170th general assembly of the Foundation for Upgrading the Standard of Education, Inc. (FUSE), proposed to replace the curriculum with spiralling and integrated one which has long been adopted by other countries outperforming the Philippines in assessment tests.

She said the spiralling and integrated curriculum will: avoid major disjunctions between stages of schooling, provide the basis for continuity and consistency in basic education, allow students to learn appropriate to their developmental and cognitive stages, show the interrelatedness of the topics with each and their connections across topics, strengthen retention and mastery of topics and skills, and benchmark Filipino students with their foreign counterparts.

“In this world increasingly shaped by science and technology, they will not be alienated from the society where they live , they will not be overwhelmed and demoralized  by change, and they can make political, environment, and ethical choices in the face of issues confronting us all,” Tan quoted UNESCO. –(The Philippine Star)

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