What are the critical issues facing elementary and secondary education in the Philippines today, from the perspective of students, teachers, and school administrators both public and private?
In my opinion, the major problems are resources or the lack of it. I am a product of public schools when I was in the elementary schools and we go to school without textbooks at hand. Sometimes one class shares only about ten or so books as we just pass it along the aisles. A certain highschool here in Zamboanga was even cutted-off of their electric power for not being able to pay and the city government has been asking who has to pay for it, the city of the DECS in Manila.
What have been the main developments in Philippine education in the past 1 or 2 decades (positive and negative) and what lessons have been learned?
For me, the most significant development I Philippine education thus far is the introduction of computer skills even into our public schools. Some ten years ago, only private schools have them I the curriculum. But then, it imposes another problem like lack of computers.
Is the Philippines building an economically competitive workforce, and how do other countries compare?
Sad to say, that seems to be not the case. At present, most students are vying for courses that would land them white-collar jobs, when in fact there is so minimal job opportunity in that field. Often, many choose courses in the medical field in order to earn their livelihood abroad but this does not really make us competitive as a nation, in terms of competing in the global market. I think, the government should pursue and encourage the young to take courses that could help our nation become industrialized in the near future.
For those out of school, what are the options?
Often their options are very manual jobs like laborer in ports and airports and as carpenters and painters. It would be a little ideal if this particular sector would learn to go into business where the opportunity for growth is always at hand.
Where is Philippine education heading?
It really depends on how our economy are heading. The bottom line I think is that, we have a very intelligent youth sector that is hungry for knowledge as proven by the many achievements Filipinos have in the world stage if given the opportunity. The bottomline is that our economy could no really muster the sufficient resources in order to support a well-intended and progressive educational system. In fact, many of our young are not in school simply because they could not afford the tuition fees.
If there are 2 or 3 major things that the teachers could change, what would these be?
I haven’t got much idea on this because I know the problem is not in the teachers but in a resource-hungry educational system. I guess if there is one thing is that teachers should be more involve in guiding the students in finding the right courses or career for each student to take, like when a student is good in math, he or she should be encouraged to take engineering or computer technology. Some failures are caused by the mismatched of skills and the courses they take.
Are Filipino teachers the new export after nurses and doctors?
That seem to be the situation right now and I guess it is not really something to complain about except that there would be additional brain drain happening. But if we can produce a surplus of teachers since our educational system could really support the graduation of as many education graduate as possible, since it is offered in almost all colleges and universities, then the problem of brain drain is not really of import but something that can be cured or resolved.