Coinciding with the opening of classes this month, I'm coming up with a series of articles that would talk about the current state of Philippine education. When I say here the 'state of Philippine education' it encompasses all issues related to it: from the conditions of our classrooms to the attitude of today's youth and the view of Philippine society today towards getting 'an education.'
Ito ang aking maliit na kontribusyon upang i-angat ang kalagayan at siguro panibaguhin kahit papaano ng sistemang pangedukasyon sa Pilipinas.
Classroom shortage in 2006 was at 74,115 - but that was before 'her excellency' had insisted on her new formula: double shifting of classes. It means that classes in high school and elementary are divided into the morning and afternoon shift. It also means that the ideal standard set by the government for classroom to student ratio had gone up from 1:45 to 1:100. So after the president's 'brilliant idea', classroom shortage had been virtually wiped out in May 30, 2006.
A historic moment indeed in the history of Philippine education. A feat that no past president had been able to address. Past presidents had been spending billions in pesos just to eradicate this problem where it would just take a nice bond paper, a nice fountain pen and a signature to cure our perennial-classroom-problem disease.
A bitter cure that students and teachers had to take.
Still a few days later, her minions had admitted that we are still short of 6,000 classrooms for 2006. Now, come 2009, this had 'grown' to more than 10,000 (Note that this is based on the 1:100, double-shift solution). And now, our dear secretary of education is blaming it on our explosive population growth.
Classroom shortage is just one of our problems. Another one is the lack of teachers to teach inside the existing classrooms. Again in 2006, our country more or less 50,000 Aristotles to teach more the 18 million Platos in elementary and high school - and the number keeps going up every year.
Why? Here are the realities of being a teacher here in the Philippines.
The basic salary of an average teacher is at Php 10, 933.00 (Salary Grade 10 under the Salary Standardization Law) - of which more than Php 3,000.00 is deducted because of loans, GSIS contributions, PHILHEALTH, etc.
Teacher have to teach at least 4 sections of students everyday with at least 50 students per section. But most of the time, they are obliged to teach 5 sections with more than 300 students daily. They are lucky if they won't be obliged to teach in the afternoon shift.
Despite their dedication, they would often get the worse treatment when applying for loans or getting their retirement benefits by the time they retire. They had to endure long lines at the GSIS offices and be obliged to enroll for programs that they don't understand.
Tapos laging magdadahilan ang GSIS ng 'nag-uupgrade at nagco-computerize ho kami ng database para mas mabilis ang transactions.' Pero iyun pala, 'nag-crash po ang ating database at mano-mano po uli ang ating proseso.' Pero ang totoo talaga, 'wala nang pera ang GSIS. naubos na sa infomercials sa TV, sa pagbili ng paintings at sa kampanya ni Gloria nuong eleksyon.' At magdadahilan pa sila na, 'hindi po totoo yan, may pondo ang GSIS hanggang 2040+, sapat po ito para sa lahat ng mag-reretire.'
Then, why does it take months to process all claims, loans and transactions? I don't know. Ask them why.
Then upon retirement, after serving more than three decades in molding the country's future, teachers often end up penniless because of the loans they've accumulated to support their family and live decently.
Now because of these realities, most would teach here in the Philippines for a year or two, then they end up teaching in the US or worse, a domestic helper in Hong Kong.
In 2005, we have more than 300,000 graduates of teaching related courses - more than enough to fill the need for teachers. But because of the above-mentioned realities, they would rather work in a call center or study again as nurse to earn more than what an average teacher gets.
How's that for 'brain drain?'
Next in line: books. What will students and teachers do at school if there are no books?
Currently, the DepEd admits that we are short of 10 million textbooks all over the country. But despite that, they are proud to proclaim that we have finally achieved a 1:1 student to book ratio. Isn't it ironic that despite the shortage, we are on a 1:1 ratio?
Well, let's accept their promising claims. But the question is: are we providing them with good and high-quality textbooks or books laden with thousands of grammatical and factual errors?
Then instead of admiting the glaring fault found in the books, they attacked the 'whistleblower.' Why? Maybe to protect the bigwigs of the publishing industry. Or to hide their stupidity for overlooking the errors. (You want to see more errors? Click here.)
Then recently the Finance department tried to impose taxes on books. Gladly, because of the clamor against it, they had stopped from doing so. What a nice way to promote book readership among Filipinos.
There's really no doubt that this government would want everyone else to be 'educated' their way.
One of the most basic requirements of every country's educational system is to have the adequate resources to conduct classes. This includes classrooms, chairs, tables, books and teachers. If we lack even just one of these 'basics' then the whole system gets ruined. The whole system won't work. The whole system won't really even exist. A system by definition is a 'complex whole formed from related parts.'
Still I guess, despite the shortages in everything, we do still have our very own kind of 'educational system.'
An educational system that allows students to hold classes under the mango tree.
An educational system that allows students to learn from poorly-made books.
An educational system that allows its teachers to live in a measly salary.
An educational system that takes pride in teachers teaching students - abroad.
An educational system that does not really 'educate' but instead make them succumb to illiteracy and absurdity.
That's our educational system - unique inded.
To be continued.. UP NEXT: The Personal Side