Thursday, August 24, 2006

The State of Our Public School Education

Let us have a glimpse of the state of national education today. We’ll have quick tour of our national education statistics. The most recent data so far is in School Year 2004 to 2005. There were 12,089,365 students in Grade 6 in the Public Schools all over the country as against 926,122 in the private schools. 5,043,776 students were in 4th year high school in the Public Schools and 1,268,255 students were in the Private Schools.

Note that there are more than 12 million students in Grade 6 and only less than 6 million in the fourth year high school. This population has not change much in the last 5 years. This pattern alone indicates that less than half finish high school every year.

We may console ourselves assuming that at least half of those who get to high school should be doing well academically. Our national data on the academic performance of students in the public school says otherwise.

In school year 2004-2005, the Achievement Rate of a student in the public elementary school averaged 58.73 while a high school student averages 46.80. The acceptable national rate is 75.0.
This pattern has also not change much for the last 5 years. In retrospect, we are introducing an average of at least 6 million high school students into college who may not be able to read, understand English or do basic math.

There has been many interventions introduce to address these shortcomings and gaps in the educational system. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Creating special classes or sections like the Science Classes and Special Education Classes.
  • Introducing Computers.
  • Feeding programs.
  • More classrooms and buildings.
  • Introducing multi-media into the classroom.
  • Scholarships.
  • Others are creative combinations of any or several of the above.
In spite of the many strategies and intervention introduced not only by Department of Education or DepEd but also by well-meaning civic organizations, we will not be seeing a real improvement in the quality of our educational system. The interventions themselves have inherent flaws and problems.

Common Problems encountered in these interventions:

  • The intervention is almost exclusively coming from outside the school and in all likelihood will be from a private donor.
  • The intervention is not consistent because there is no cohesive program behind it, a different intervention is being introduced every year, and by a different donor.
  • It is almost always cash-strap or always plague by lack of logistical support from the school itself.
  • The interventions are not sustainable and often times the stakeholders have no ownership of the projects.
  • Donor-stress, donor-fatigue or donor-burnout sets in and the intervention project or program loses its sponsors and champions.
Knowing all these, you got to ask the question: What then is causing these shortcomings and gaps?

Why in spite of many interventions, many well-meaning organizations, and so many millions of pesos spent in improving our educational system are we still faced with more than 5 million functionally illiterate high school graduates.

The Underlying Causes of Our Educational System’s Shortcomings or Gaps:

  • It has failed to recognize or appreciate the critical impact of the formative years of the child.
  • It has not provided a dynamic strategy for curriculum development that appreciates the environment under which the child will have their learning experiences
  • The educational system does not provide mechanism for the pro-active participation of parents or the community as a whole in improving the child's learning.
  • The existing curriculum in pre-school does not provide the most fundamental skills and does not prepare kids to succeed in subsequent learning stages.
  • There is no independent body outside the school that validates the quality of the content and delivery of the curriculum.
  • Quality entails cost. Cost inhibits further investment in the development of the curriculum or its delivery hence sustainability is a perpetual issue.
  • Existing mechanisms for delivery of pre-school education bars businesses and community organizations from directly participating in the development of their local pre-school education.
We know that government have had many difficulties improving our educational system. We know that the Department of Education is dealing with the challenges of its own evolution aside from its mandate of managing our educational system. Current interventions have not drastically improved the state of our public school system.

What are these problems telling us?

  • The Government or the Department of Education cannot improve our educational system alone. They need our help.
  • We need to introduce a better way or strategy to develop learning content and delivery of this content.
  • The strategy or system for the delivery of a better educational system must be cost-effective, can be replicated, has internal mechanism for assuring quality of content and delivery, it must pay for itself hence should be sustainable: An Alternative or Parallel School System.
  • The school must be affordable to the lower middle-income family.
  • Organizations or even businesses have an opportunity to get involved or to invest in this alternative or parallel school system.
The Centre for International Education or CIE believes that rather than enduring the pains of the many problems plaguing our educational system, stakeholders, meaning you and me, should take a more proactive approach and turn this very "aged" and nagging problem into an opportunity.

You may have this question in your mind about why CIE should even participate considering that it is already an established institution. It has already a very good curriculum and it is already managing several campuses.

CIE's social engagement and even its many endeavors recently are clearly defined by its Vision and Mission.

CIE's Vision states that:

CIE is a veritable institution in the Asia Pacific that develops and nurtures influential generative leaders who champion the upliftment of the quality of human life.

CIE's Mission states:

We transform ordinary individuals to become extraordinary catalysts of social progress through a philosophy of education for leaders anchored on social engagement and the Pearl Principle.

You can say that our social engagement actually defines who we are. We are seeking out partnership from seemingly ordinary individuals and organizations to participate in the process of influencing the development of their respective communities by being socially engaged. In this case, hopefully, by investing in a Pearl Principle Formation School.

1 comment: said...

How can schools be improved? Emphasize critical thinking, problem-solving, and research instead of rote-learning, Only young children can easily learn language. Teach 3 languages by social immersion starting at age 5, so that our children can participate in the communities and markets of the world, Allow innovators to create new schools and new kinds of education via minimally-restricted school choice. -Lilibeth Frobayre