It is also true that with a conservative figure of around 35 students per teacher in high school, the Philippines has currently the worst teacher student ratio in the secondary level
of education in the East Asia and the Pacific region. For example, Malaysia and Singapore have a ratio of 14 pupils per teacher, Thailand 19, Indonesia 12, Vietnam 18. (All data cited represent the latest available from UNESCO.)
It furthermore cannot be denied that the Philippines allocates only a measly 2.6 % of annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the total educa
tion budget in contrast to Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore which allot more than 3 %. Vietnam on the other hand allocates more than 5 % while Malaysia spends close to the ideal 6 % yearly. The industrialized nations of the world spend on average 6 % of their GDP on education. The E ducation Development Index (EDI) which ranks countries according to compliance with the United Nations Millennium Goal of “Education for All” puts the Philippines at rank 85 while neighboring Indonesia and Malaysia are 69 and 65 respectively. The lack of adequate budget and resources has consistently been identified in the past as the main reason for the deterioration and demoralization of Philippine education.
In 1970, the Philippines and China were the only nations with four years of secondary education. In 1977 China added one year and another year subsequently to make a total of six. Of the 39 countries which had five years of secondary education in 197
0 only nine have shifted from five years to six and another five countries from five years to seven.
Bhutan, the setting of the fictional Kingdom of Yangdon in the telenovela “The Princess and I” underwent a similar transition to that which the Philippines will undergo under the so-called K to 12 Program. In 2003, Bhutan lengthened secondary education from four to six years. Bhutan may be a poorer country than the Philippines in many respects but it seems to have a better sense of educational priorities. In 2001, two years before the change to six years, it increased public expenditure in education as percentage of GDP from 5.8% to 5.9%. After two years of implementing the transition, public expenditure for education rose to a very high 7.2 percent of the GDP. (It has since then been lowered to around 4 percent currently.) In 1998 its teacher to pupil ratio was 38.6, but in 2006 this had been reduced to 22.8 even with the additional two years of secondary education.
Having learned nothing from Yangdon, even as it currently implements K to 12 (which the Department of Education estimates will cost P150B), the Philippine government has made no significant gesture at increasing the budget for education as a whole and towards improving such important indicators for quality as the teacher-pupil ratio.
However, the more fundamental question is, does the Philippines really have to undergo such a transition to six years? A study by Felipe and Porio in 2010 has shown that the deplorable, bottom-rung results of the Philippines in international Math and Science tests (TIMMS) is not the result of merely having a shorter education cycle. They discovered that elementary students from countries such as Russia, Latvia, Hungary, Italy, Egypt and Iran with even shorter elementary cycles than the Philippines were easily able to surpass the Filipino 4th and eighth graders. It was also determined in another study that although Malaysia and Brunei had longer education cycles, it turned out that the Philippines had actually allotted longer hours of instruction time per subject. These longer hours of instruction however did not translate into higher scores. The superior results of these other countries could probably be better explained by the higher percentages of GDP reserved for education as a whole and their use of more comprehensible national languages in math and science. Some even less developed and poorer countries than the Philippines do indeed have longer basic education cycles. But this does not imply that these longer periods necessarily translate into higher quality. These may instead merely result in longer periods of “education” languishing in decrepit and deplorable conditions.
The supposed “shortage” of time in teaching is simply not as urgent as the other major shortages which have plagued Philippine education for decades. The notion that the curriculum needs to be “decongested” implies that there is not enough time to learn everything that must be learned. But who or what dictates this “everything” which supposedly must be learned and the number of hours which it must be taught? What are these knowledges, or curricular contents, which are supposedly comparable and exchangeable internationally? It is taken for granted that these are derived from some vague “international standards.” However these are actually dictated and imposed by international business interests and their spokesmen in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and in treaties such as the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The loss of national sovereignty in determining national standards and priorities in basic education is mystifyingly taken for granted by the “anti-congestion” proponents of K to 12. The deep erosion of academic freedom in institutions of higher education in the name of neo-liberal ideology, managerialism and the domination of market forces is furthermore accepted without question.
Another reason cited by the Department of Education in defense of the K to 12 Program is that the Philippines must lengthen secondary education by two years in order to comply (at least on paper) with “international standards” set by treaties such as the Bologna Process and the Washington Accord. The explicit principal intent of the Bologna Process is to make European Universities “more competitive” internationally in attracting foreign (especially Asian) students. Ironically, our “compliance” with it is intended to make us more eligible buyers and “consumers” of the educational “products” which they offer. This has obviously nothing to do with Philippine economic interests. On the other hand, the government’s labor export policy also faces the very real obstacle posed by international professional standards which supposedly require twelve years of basic education for the practice of professions. In the contemporary situation in which at least 45% of Filipinos live in poverty, a better proposal than making all poor households pay more for the additional two years of high school would be to make those who want to work or study abroad pay for the additional costs through other appropriate systems of assessment and accreditation.
Rather than spreading further the education budget for this big project, which merely reflects the politics of educational reform in our country, the State should concentrate its efforts and budget in basic education -improving the quality, building science education, scholarship, establishing centers for teachers continuing education. We can be certain that the K to 12 Program of the current government will not raise the quality of Philippine education, instead it will only lengthen the suffering of students in a decrepit, corrupt and miserably underfunded system. The additional two years will also constitute an additional and insupportable burden among the majority of poor families struggling to put their children through high school. Finally, the K to 12 Program will not redound to the benefit of the Filipino people since it firmly puts foreign interests before the development priorities and educational needs of our country.
Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy –University of the Philippines(CONTEND-UP)
Member, Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Philippines (ACT-Phils.)
6 June 2012 Reference: Rep. Antonio L. Tinio (09209220817)
ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio L. Tinio denounces the dismal plight of volunteer Kinder teachers under President Aquino’s K to 12 Program.
“To the front liners of his K to 12 Program, PNoy gives stubs when they need boxes of chalk, misery when they need decent lives,” Tinio laments. “A small family, even the teacher-breadwinner himself orherself, simply cannot live on a P3,000 monthly allowance.”
If computed to a daily rate, the P3,000 honorarium DepEd pays to volunteer Kinder teachers amounts to P100, or four times less than P446, the minimum daily wage for the National Capital Region. This goes up to P200 if the volunteer teacher handles two classes. With a family living wage (FLW) of P993, they fall short daily by P893, or P793, for their own needs and their families’.
Volunteer teachers in far-flung areas fare worse, as they are paid only P2,000 monthly (P66.67 daily) for handling multi-grade or small classes (10 pupils or less). Their daily budget shortfall amounts to P393.33 when computed against the NCR minimum wage (the highest in all regions), or P926.33 when computed against the FLW.
The independent political and economic think tank IBON Foundation defines FLW to be the amount a family of six needs for essentials: P204 daily for food; P2,096 monthly for rent; P1,150 monthly for fuel,light and water; and P28 daily for transportation. IBON’s P993 FLW is based on the 2008 FLW estimate issued by the National Wages Productivity Commission, its latest.
Tinio observes that even the maximum P6,000 allowance is barely enough for daily food expenses of one family. Volunteer teachers teach majority of Kinder classes nationwide. At the hearing of the House Committees on Basic Education and Higher Education Monday, DepEd admitted that it has hired over 20,000 volunteer teachers using its 2012 budget. DepEd hired only 3,000 regular teachers.
Tinio notes that DepEd created the Kindergarten Volunteer Program (KVP, under DepEd Order 21, series of 2012 and DepEd Order 37, series of 2011) as a way to seemingly “solve” the shortage in Kinderteachers, without a thought to the right of teachers to adequate remuneration, among other rights guaranteed by the 1987 Constitution and the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers.
Tinio added that the Palace and DepEd only need to fund more Teacher I items to decisively solve the teacher shortage. “Scrimping on teachers is not the answer, and they do not deserve to be abused andtreated inhumanely. We call on PNoy to give them fair compensation befitting their status as educators, the ones who propel his K to 12 Program.”
Even without delving into the qualifications issue, Tinio believes that KVP dooms the efficiency of K to 12. “The Program is self-defeating because it will flood the education system with overworked yet underpaid teachers, and PNoy knows this. This measly allowance is one of the marks of his insincerity to reform the education system.”
June 3, 2012 Reference: ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio L. Tinio (0920-922-0817)
ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio today warned that the implementation of the Aquino administration’s K to 12 program would worsen the problems that have long been plaguing the country’s public school system.
“Due to the failure of the Aquino administration to provide adequate funding in the 2012 national budget, the existing shortages in the basic education system will be aggravated by the unmet requirements of K to 12, particularly its Kindergarten component,” said Tinio.
He noted that the influx of around 1.6 million 5 year-old enrollees in Kindergarten this school year will result in a shortage of around 20,000 teachers and 25,000 classrooms solely for the Kindergarten component of K to 12. This has contributed to a worsening of the unmet requirements in public schools. “After two years, the Aquino administration has been unable to close the gaps in basic education resources. For school year 2012, the total shortages for the whole public school system stands at 132,483 teachers, 97,685 classrooms, and 153,709 water and sanitation facilities,” said Tinio.
The legislator denounced the approach used by the Department of Education to cope with the shortage of Kindergarten teachers. “The Deped has turned to massive contractualization, hiring more than 20,000 Kindergarten teachers on one-year contracts of service. This is unprecedented, never before has the Deped hired contractual teachers in such numbers.” Tinio noted that these contractuals are “grossly exploited, since their compensation falls far below minimum wage.” “They are paid a mere P3,000 to P6,000 per month, compared to the P18,549 per month salary of regular teachers. Even the lowest paid government employee is entitled to P9,000 per month. In short, the Deped’s Kindergarten teachers are the lowest paid government employees in service.”
Tinio also criticized the Deped for its “grossly negligent” policy on classrooms for Kindergarten classes. He pointed to Department Order No. 21, s. 2012 (“Policies and Guidelines on the Implementation of the Universal Kindergarten Program”), which directs principals and school heads towards the “exploration of all possible options to provide classrooms for Kindergarten equipped with appropriate facilities such as the school library, home economics building, learning resource center, and other available spaces.”
“In practice, ‘other available spaces’ means that Kindergarten classes will be held under stairwells, in corridors, storage rooms, and under the proverbial mango tree,” said Tinio. “We’re appalled that this is the best that the Deped can do for our schoolchildren.”
“It’s up to Malacañang to explain why K to 12 is so grossly underfunded that it’s undermining whatever promise it has of improving the quality of basic education,” concluded Tinio.#
May 30, 2012
Challenge Aquino and other officials to ‘walk the talk’ on corruption
Today, we, the members of the Makabayan partylist bloc in Congress, responding to the challenge for greater transparency and accountabiliity in government brought about in part by the Corona impeachment trial, are signing unconditional waivers allowing the Ombudsman to look into our assets and bank accounts for the purpose of investigating any report or complaint against us for graft and corruption.
As signatories to the Corona impeachment complaint and representatives of the marginalized and underrepresented sectors in Congress, we feel it is our duty and moral obligation to set an example in complying with the Constitutional mandate on public office as a public trust.
We challenge our fellow officials in government, starting with the President and his Cabinet, our colleagues in the House and the Senate, to do no less. Kapansin-pansin na hindi pa pumipirma ng waiver si Pres. Aquino at kanyang mga gabinete sa kabila ng malakas na panawagan ng taumbayan para dito. Dapat magpamalas ng halimbawa ang Pangulo at kanyang gabinete. Sign the waiver now.
We likewise demand that President Aquino apply the same zeal he had in going after Corona in pursuing plunder, ill-gotten wealth and other cases of graft and corruption and human rights violations against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her conspirators. The impeachment of Corona is proof that all it takes is political will to clean up government.
What is unfortunate is that the President has shown a reluctance to pursue such cases against the former president and has to be forced by circumstances and other parties to take definitive action. Note, for example, the haphazard and last-minute filing of the electoral sabotage case against Mrs. Arroyo. There is no lack of cases that can be filed against the former president if Aquino is only willing to do it.
We reiterate that the same standards of transparency and accountability and the same dogged zeal to weed out grafters witnessed in the Corona impeachment should be applied to all agencies of government.
Makabayan is a political coalition that is presently comprised of eight Philippine progressive parties: Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Kabataan and ACT Teachers partylist. #