As hundreds of thousands of Filipinos graduate in the third and fourth months of the year at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels, the same issues that have bedeviled Philippine education for decades are still unresolved. The most immediate is whether these graduates will find employment. But apart from the question of whether they will find the job they expect their education to have qualified them for, or just to find any job, period, only those totally out of touch with Philippine reality will contest the poor state of Philippine education.
Numeracy and literacy levels are low among primary and high school students, many of whom are unprepared for college work, of which among the indicators were the low scores in the now abolished National College Entrance Examinations. (The K+12 program has been put in place, but its impact is still too early to call.)
But at the tertiary level, the results of the board examinations in many disciplines have also been disappointing, with high rates of failure among the graduates of many schools that for some reason continue to be licensed and allowed to operate.
Those of a perverse turn of mind might well argue that Filipinos are actually getting dumber, thanks to Philippine education. Much of the criticism of Philippine education has been on the mismatch between what Filipinos are trained for and what the economy needs, for which the high levels of unemployment among college graduates are blamed. But the reality is that quality remains a major issue at all levels, and will still have to be addressed even if, somehow, the number and kinds of courses Filipinos take in college are matched with what the economy needs. The system, for one, has too many bad teachers and poor school facilities like substandard or even non-existent laboratories and libraries (in which, thanks to the text book scam, some of the available books are so full of errors they actually detract from the sum of human knowledge, and students would do better not to read them).
The Philippines allocates one of the lowest budgets for education among the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, a fact that’s certainly among the reasons for the persistent quality issues that plague the educational system as far as public education is concerned. But equally to blame is the vast number of profit-oriented schools in which an “academic proletariat” of college instructors toils for a pittance despite the annual increases in tuition and other fees (this year some 120 colleges have been allowed to boost their fees come June), and who have little time and energy to update themselves in their disciplines, much less do research to advance knowledge and enhance teaching.
It’s not only the mean possibilities of employment bad training affects. Congressional education committees don’t even mention it, but bad education doesn’t only make it difficult for the “masscom” graduate, for example, to land that job as a reporter in one of the more respected broadsheets, and to instead end up operating a copying machine in a shop specializing on fake diplomas on Manila’s Claro M. Recto avenue. It also dumbs down a populace that in the rumored democracy known as the Philippines is supposed to make the decisions on public issues sovereign decision-making requires.
But just like dumb media and a dumb press, a dumb population may suit the bureaucrats and politicians fine. It makes it less difficult to make bad policies seem good, among other reasons because it perpetuates hoary, backward, and even colonial concepts of governance and foreign relations, as well as such approaches to social issues as the idea that nothing can be done about poverty and the skewed distribution of wealth because that’s just the way it is—it’s God’s or some other supernumerary’s will, just like corruption in officialdom. . (http://www.cmfr-phil.org/inmediasres/education-for-democracy/)
(Luis V. Teodoro is a former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication, where he teaches journalism. He is the deputy director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility. He writes a weekly column for the BusinessWorld.)