Whatever happened to P-Noy’s Educational Reforms

Published by rudy Date posted on March 21, 2011

The paramount importance of education can never be overlooked by the President if he holds close to his heart the welfare of the people and the future of his country.

During his campaign, the President expressed how crucial the role education has in our country’s development. He said, “If we fix basic education, we fix the long-term problems of the country. And if we fix the country’s problems, we will build a truly strong society we can proudly call the Philippines.”

I remember him saying that, “For every 100 children that enter Grade 1, only 86 make it to Grade 2 and by the start of Grade 4, almost one-quarter of that cohort are already out of school (24% leaving 76% still in school). By the end of Grade 6, only around 70% are around to march and receive that elementary diploma. Of those that graduate from elementary, only 90% will move on to high school with less than half of the original group entering Grade 1 graduating from Fourth Year HS (46%). That is the group that is eligible or qualified to go on to university. Yet many within that cohort cannot pass university entrance examinations because of poor language communication, low math and science aptitude, and poor analytical skills.”

Faced with these facts and figures, he vowed to fight illiteracy. So, after a whole school year, where is he now? Has he begun anything yet? Has he initiated any reforms in education based on his basic agenda?

Let us recall his promises on educational reform.

On the 12-Year Basic Education Cycle: He said, “We need to add two years to our basic education cycle to catch up with the rest of the world. My education team has designed a way to go from our current 10 years (6 elementary, 4 high school) to a preschool to Grade 12 system (called K-12 in other countries) in five years starting SY 2011-12.”

On Universal pre-schooling for all: He said, “In the Philippines, only around 20% of all 6 year old entering Grade 1 have a full year of pre-schooling. We need to build a proper pre-school system and make this available to all children regardless of income.”

On Madaris Education: He said, “Our Muslim brothers and sisters ask for an education system that respects their culture while providing a technically sound curriculum in English, Filipino, Science and Math. The solution to this is Madaris education with Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education offered as additional subjects to the regular curriculum offered in our public schools and full basic education for all Muslim Filipino children anywhere in the country.”

On technical vocational education in high school: He said, “I will re-introduce technical-vocational education in our public high schools to better link schooling to local industry needs and employment.”

On “Every Child a Reader” by Grade 1: He said, “At the core of our children’s non-learning problems is the inability to read properly. Research shows that poor performance in tests is also about the inability to read and comprehend the tests. By the end of the next administration (SY 2015-16), every child passing preschool must be a reader by Grade 1.”

On Science and Math proficiency: He said, “I will rebuild the science and math infrastructure in schools so that we can produce more scientists, engineers, technicians, technologists and teachers in our universities so that this country can be more globally competitive in industry and manufacturing.”

On Assistance to private schools as partners in basic education: He said, “Private education must be a partner in producing quality education in the country. I will expand the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education Program (GASTPE) to a target of 1 million private HS students every year through education service contracting (ESC) while doing away with the wasteful education voucher system (EVS).”

On Medium of Instruction rationalized: He said, “From preschool to Grade 3, we will use the mother tongue as the medium of instruction while teaching English and Filipino as subjects. From Grades 4-6 (7), we will increasingly use English as the medium of instruction for science and math and Filipino for Araling Panlipunan (social studies). For High School, English should be the medium of instruction for science, math and English; Filipino for AP, Filipino and tech-voc education.”

On Quality textbooks: He said, “Poor quality textbooks have no place in our schools, yet in the last three years, we have had reports and exposés of poorly-researched, poorly-written textbooks. I will not tolerate poor textbook quality in our schools. Textbooks will be judged by three criteria: quality, better quality, and more quality.”

On Covenant with Local Governments to build more schools: He said, “We have a continuing classroom shortage, but we do not need more overcrowded schools. Instead, we need more schools with smaller populations so that teachers, students, and parents can form a real learning community. I will build more schools in areas where there are no public or private schools in a covenant with LGUs so that we can realize genuine education for all.”

What happened to P-Noy’s spirited educational team? During the President’s first few days in office they were quite aggressive to present his plans for reform. Have they taken a back seat after seeing the actual state of education in this country? What about DepEd Secretary Luistro and CHED Secretary Patricia Licuanan? Where are they? What are they doing? They seem to be maintaining a low profile compared to their counterparts in the past. I hope they don’t drop another directive that will hit us like a bomb right before classes begin in June. If they plan to make reforms or adjustments, they must inform the schools ahead of time.

The President and his education team must not slide back nor should they hesitate to start their reforms. He must realize by now that the cause of all these violent conflicts among opposing political, economic and moral forces in our society is of an educational nature. We cannot take these new reforms for granted. Education is bound up with the life of the nation. The government must carry on that vital work of giving the right structures, programs and training to address our growing generations — an education that will serve as the foundation of our national life. –Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star)

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