In this commentary, I will be discussing the Educational System in the
Philippines including the process of educational evolution and the correct perspective
regarding current school practices.
Education has long been a major part of my life. After completing my college
degree, I taught in New London, Connecticut for fourteen years, then in Gilroy,
California for 6 years following which I joined the staff of the Brent
International School in Manila, Philippines where I taught for 5 years; it was
during this same time period that I founded a school in my local community. I
have been involved with this educational system for nearly 37 years.
As part of my commitment to serve the people, I am honored to now be working
with the Governor of the Philippines State of Batangas, serving in the fields
of Education and Tourism. I have always believed that providing a good, high
quality education is the key to raising my country from poverty. With this in mind I organized the Aurora
Zagala Badillo Foundation to help those less fortunate children who can't
afford to go to school, and providing them with financial assistance and
conducting faculty development training programs. The Foundation is always
interested in meeting with those who can support and contribute to the
education of these young people by any means, and readers of this commentary
are invited to participate in any productive manner.
Just recently I was appointed to the Technical Working Group Committee. This
program is focused on identifying school building sites, specifically in those
places or areas without schools and improving the existing school buildings
where enrolment necessitates more classrooms and where basic facilities are
lacking and deficient.
The problems of education in the Philippines are many, and entail many
dimensions; however, the Philippine administration and the Department of
Education are doing their best to improve the Philippine Department of
Education and to ease the burden of these young people.
The educational system in the Philippines is the result of the fusion of the
European tradition in schools founded by religious orders during the Spanish
colonial period, with the democratic ideal of providing equal educational
opportunities to everyone, propagated during the American regime.
The formal educational structure in the Philippines consists of three levels:
elementary, secondary and tertiary. Elementary education constitutes the first
level of compulsory formal education. It is concerned with basic education,
which consists of six to seven grade levels. Secondary education corresponds to
four years of high school and concerns itself with continuing the learner's
basic education and expanding it to include the acquisition of gainful skills.
Finally, tertiary education refers to post-secondary schooling leading to a
degree in a specific profession or discipline. Its scope covers one or two-year
vocational/technical courses, degree and professional programs, and master's
and doctoral programs.
In the tertiary level, however, the Philippine educational system has a unique
feature, with the private education sector playing a predominant role in the
delivery of the educational services. Private institutions of higher learning
provide education to about 85% of all college students. Public schools, on the
other hand, provide education to about 15% of the college population.
In terms of school revenues, public schools derive 80-90% of their revenues
from subsidies provided by the government, and only 10-20% from tuition fees
paid (on the secondary and tertiary levels); in contrast private schools are
almost totally dependent on tuition fees, with 90% of their coming from this
The public schools in the Philippines are far behind in information and
communication technology and at the same time lack certain basic classroom
facilities. These situations in our educational system have been confirmed in a
comprehensive study / survey conducted by Teacher's Advancement for Optimum
Well-Being, initiated by Senator Teresa Aquino-Oreta. The following are the
1. That only 1.8% of the country's public schools have Internet access and 14%
of teachers use computers,
2. That 44.83% of public school teachers who are asked to assess their school
facilities said that their classrooms have no electricity, while 38.42% said
their schools have no toilets,
3. About 25% said their classrooms have no ceiling and 44.65% said they have to
provide the desks and chairs for their students, and
4. Over 37% of the teachers surveyed did not receive any training to upgrade
their skills within the last three years.
Our School Population
The basic problem of basic services for the Department of Education is how to
meet service requirements arising from the net increase in the population of
students in the school system each year.
Our population growth rate is officially estimated at 2.3 percent, although the
latest census (taken during in 2000) indicate that overall, from 1995 to 2000,
in a space of five years, the net population increase was about 9.5 million out
of a total of 75+ million, or roughly less than 2 million a year the past five
years. Translated into percentages, the annual growth rate during the past five
years was about 2 percent. We need to check this further and make sure it is
confirmed. If true, then, it seems that for the first time in more than ten
years, the population rate has slowed to less than 2.3 percent.
There are many reasons that may explain this: the difficulties in the economy;
the growing urban population (which has always had fewer children than the
rural population); perhaps the growing sense of responsible parenthood, some
success in the government's family planning programs; a rising educational
level which correlates well with smaller families; and emigration.
Translated into numbers, however, the annual population growth amounts to
350,000 additional pupils for SY 1998-1999 and a projected 500,000 for
1999-2000. I say "projected" because although we have official
figures for June 2000, we still need to check these again and compare them with
the actual population of the schools in June 1999 and the end of May 2000, which
will be reported next year. The 350,000 at the end of SY 1998-1999 is less than
the original expected 400,000. Let us hope that the same will be true for the
immediately past School year 1999-2000.
The projected figures, as of June 2000, are 12.1 million elementary school
students and 4 million high school students in the public school system and .9
million elementary school pupils and 1.3 million secondary school students in
the private sector.
The latest SY 1999 updated figures are a total of 12.7 million in public and
private elementary schools (11.8 million public and .9 million private) and 3.9
million public and 1.2 million private high school students. The teachers
include non-teaching assignments.
Not discussed too often and forgotten is that we have a total of 24,518
administrative and support staff (public) composed of clerks, business office
staff, disbursing officers, bookkeepers, and we had only 8,722 principals for
35,617 public elementary schools and 2,168 principals for 4,209 public high
schools. This means that only 25 percent of our elementary schools are staffed
by a full-time principal and only more than 50 percent of our high schools are
staffed by regular full-time high school principals. The other chief operating
officers in these schools have the title of Head Teacher or Teacher-in-Charge
and within the Principal's ranks are different grades of Principals (I, II,
At this juncture we should review the educational evolution which shaped the
present system of education in the Philippines.
Education during the Pre-Spanish Period:
No definite information is available regarding the system of education during
the pre-Spanish period. But historians agree on the fact that the early
Filipinos possessed a culture of their own. For the transmission of this
culture, some sort of system of education must have been used. However, no
definite records are available regarding the type of schools, they had the
subjects that they used. We have to be content with knowing only the elements of
their early culture.
Education during the Spanish Regime
The education during the Spanish Regime in the Philippines is modified for
convenience under two periods. The first deals with the period from the
beginning of the Spanish rule to 1863 when the first Education Decree was
promulgated. The second period deals with the system of education established
by the educational Decree of 1863 and Ministerial Decrees on Education issued
in 1870 including the First Philippine Republic (the Malolos Republic).
Education during the American Regime
The present system of education in the Philippines is the continuation of the
system of education established by the Americans when they took over the rule
of the Philippines from the Spain. The public school system they established
here was modeled after the prevailing state educational systems in the United
States. Although colleges and universities organized by the religious orders
were allowed to continue, these institutions have remodeled their programs of
studies and, to some extent, their curricula to suit the changed conditions.
Education during the Commonwealth Period
The establishment of the Commonwealth Government brought about a re-orientation
of educational plans and policies, which was necessary in order to carry out
the educational mandates of the Constitution. The curricula of the elementary
and the secondary schools were revised so that the objectives of education
embodied in the Constitution might be carried out Character education and
citizenship training were emphasize in the schools. Vocational subjects were
introduced in the general secondary course. More vocational and technical
schools were opened and the facilities of the existing ones were enlarged.
Education during the Japanese Regime
During World War II, the Japanese Army occupied the Philippines. Manila fell on
January 2, 1942; the United States Forces in the Philippines surrendered to the
Japanese Imperial Forces on May 6, 1942. From the fall of Manila to October 15,
1943, the Japanese Military Administration governed the Philippines through the
Philippine Executive Commission. On October 15, 1943, the Japanese-sponsored
Philippine Republic was established. Although ostensibly the Republic was
independent, its actuation was still dominated by the Japanese Military
Administration. Education under both periods can, therefore, be considered as
one under the Japanese regime.
The Present Educational System
Every school year sees the problems of education in the Philippines recur. At
the elementary and secondary level, there is a perennial shortage of
classrooms, desks, books and teachers. The basic problem is finance. The
current budget of P100 billion is just not enough to take care of present
needs. As the population keeps increasing, there will be more infrastructure
and teachers needed to maintain the system.
Some solutions have been proposed or are already been used: double sessions,
triple sessions, and in some city high schools, quadruple sessions. On an
experimental basis, DepEd has come up with the idea of a three-day week, with
different sets of classes alternating between MWF and THS resulting in a longer
working day. Faculty and student contact hours will be fewer; the teachers
while well paid because of overtime will be overworked. Perhaps in some
impoverished areas, some education is better than no education at all. The
solution means that the shortage of teachers, desks, books, and classrooms will
be temporarily alleviated. However, the learning conditions for students will
be jeopardized, and the overwork and burnout among the teachers sure to follow.
The only solution really is to prioritize education (from rhetoric to reality)
by increasing the operational expenses and also by having a one time special
budget to take care of backlog in teachers, classrooms, desks (books are seeing
some solution) to catch up with the population, and after that, to make sure
that budget are adjusted each year to take care of replacement for capital and
additional students for foreseen increases in overall population.
To address this critical problem, the acute shortage of educational
infrastructure that deprive thousands of children to acquire sufficient and
adequate education due to the very limited budgetary allocation of the
Department of Education, Governor Hermilando I. Mandanas, Governor of Batangas,
the chairman of Regional Development Council of Region IV (RDC) and the
President of Federation of Regional Development Councils of the Philippines
(FRDC), proposed the P100 Billion Local School Building Program to be funded
from the Special Education Fund (SEF) of Local Government Units (LGUs) and with
the help of this writer, member of the Committee and technical adviser to the
Governor in the field of Education.
Project: Local Education Acceleration Program
Location: Thirty One (31) Municipalities and three (3) Cities of Batangas
Sub Sector: Education
Proponent/Implementing Agencies: Province of Batangas
Local Government Units
Local School Board
A. Developmental Objectives:
Ensure affordable public education of the youths and accelerate their
development by involving LGU's investment and participation in the improvement
of educational facilities.
B. Strategic Objectives:
1. To address the acute shortage of school buildings, improvement of equipment
and upgrade skills and competitiveness of teachers which are critically needed
by the Local Government Units
2. To improve the quality of education by constructing buildings with modern
facilities and equipment
3. To create a positive, productive and conducive atmosphere or effective
teaching and learning situation
4. To upgrade skills and competitiveness of teachers through seminar-workshops
and other related trainings
5. To exert efforts to produce youth who are globally competitive
6. To construct school buildings in every barangays in response to the State of
the Nation Address (SONA) of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo 7. To address
the problem of classroom shortages due to increasing enrollment and to provide
schools in fast-growing areas as resettlement/relocation site
8. To enhance and sustain cooperation and support of the Parents Teachers and
Community Association (PTCA) and other organizations
9. To have continuous support on the Department of Education's thrust, programs
Estimated Project Cost: Php 2 Billion (US $ 40 Million)
The project envisions the utilization of the Special Education Fund provided for
under Section 235 of the Local Government Code (RA 7160) as the vehicle to
source funds for the operation and maintenance of public schools, construction
and repair of school buildings, acquisition of additional educational
facilities and equipment, purchase of books, periodicals and sports development
equipment and training of teachers. The LGUs can borrow an amount equivalent to
five times their annual share of the real estate taxes.
The basic concept of Local Education Acceleration Program is for the LGUs to
borrow Php 100 Billion (US $ 2 Billion) to Japan to be serviced using the
Special Education Fund payable over thirty (30) years with 0.5% to 1% interest
with 10 years grace period. From the total amount of Php 100 Billion (US $ 2
Billion), Php 10 Billion (US$ 200 Million) is proposed for Region IV to be
divided among the LGUs depending on their needs for classroom and other
educational facilities. Out of the Php 10 Billion (US$ 200 Million) proposed
for Region IV, Php 2 Billion (US$ 40 Million) is requested for Batangas
Province to be distributed among the 31 municipalities and 3 cities.
The LGU will utilize part (up to 50%) of SEF to secure and amortize loans
needed to raise funds.
· LGUs will take charge of managing, handling and identifying school projects
in their areas.
· Funds for the LEAP will be barrowed by the LGUs using Special Education Fund
under RA 7160.
· The Development Bank of the Philippines will be the agent to negotiate with
the World Bank and/or Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) for securing loan
· The National Government will guarantee the LGU loans from the Development
Bank of the Philippines, which will lend the money.
Direct Beneficiaries: Youth and Students
Target Beneficiaries: Youth, Students, and Teachers
The present system of education in the Philippines was patterned after the
prevalent state school systems of the United States of America. Since its
establishment about fifty years ago it has undergone a process of
transformation. Adaptations were made to suit local conditions when it was
found out that not all American educational practices and procedures could be
applied in our country.
In adapting the educational system to the needs of our people, our educational
leaders used utmost care and deliberation. Adjustments made were gradual, not
radical. General policies, administrative plans, teaching and supervisory
procedures have been discarded, modified or adopted following the
recommendations of experts. Practices found to be profitable in other countries
have been incorporated into the school system only after extensive study and
experimentation and rigorous scrutiny. The resultant is a system of education,
which has grown and is growing out of the needs of our nation.
The Philippine educational system is designed for a democratic nation. The
system is composed of two coordinate branches, the public and the private
schools. Both are under the supervision and regulation by the State. The public
school system is maintained by the State largely from taxation. The private
school are owned and operated by individuals and private corporations. We have
in the Philippines a complete school system.
However, the educational system in the Philippines is facing a lot of challenge.
The incessant poverty is deeply felt all over the world. Every print and
broadcast media shows people living in abject poverty. It is sad to know that
some of our young people who should be in school live in streets begging for
food, doing menial job, engaging in spurious activities such as gambling, drug
addiction and prostitution. Thus, we have to remember that these children will
be the future leaders of our country.
The Philippine Government is very determined and eager to help every Filipino family
alleviates from poverty and to provide quality education and to full whatever
resources the government has for the betterment of every Filipino.
The present need for modern school buildings in the Philippines are great. The
development of the school system in this country and the introduction of new
techniques required a new approach to building construction. The school
building to be constructed should reflect the latest education trends and
provide facilities for the latest educational development. Absolutely, the
acquisition and utilization of the school equipment and supplies will be now
available because of the proposed project by the Governor of Batangas,
Philippines and with the help of this writer.
Aldana, Benigno. The Educational System of the Philippines
Manila: The University Publishing Co., 1948.
The Philippine Public School Curriculum
Manila: The Philippine Teachers Digest, 1935.
Gonzales, Andrew. Can The System be reformed?
The Philippine Journal Education Vol. LXXX Number 10, March 2002.
Our School Population the DECS POST
Vol. XIII Number 4, October 2000.
BWW Society member Ms. Aurora Zagala Badillo is an innovative
educator who has made tremendous contributions to education in the developing
nation of the Philippines during her 40-year career, and is currently president
of the St. Jerome International School which she founded in 1986. She a
graduate of the Lyceum of the Philippines with a Bachelor of Arts degree in
1963, and she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Education in 1965. Ms.
Badillo is committed to improving the availability and quality of education in
her homeland, and is currently working with the Governor of Batangas towards