Just Wonder…4

Just wondering if education reform can unite the Philippine urban/rural divide? (The natural follow up is wondering why education is not a MAJOR in the 2016 Philippine elections?)

I have lived in both Pasig and the Fort. I have also live in La Union province and now Cebu province. I have also traveled extensively throughout Northern Luzon and stayed in a number of very rural communities. A trip to Mountain province at Christmas 2010 exposed me to the massive difference between urban and rural Philippines. One sees it in the infrastructure (roads, electricity, telecom and lack of internet). One sees it in the old schools with limited teaching resources and inexperienced teachers trying to get experience to move to bigger schools to develop their career. One sees it in the mindset of the common people who think of survival daily or weekly as opposed to longer term.

Much has been written about the state of the Philippines education system. MDG reports put it way behind. (Link 1 below) Global university rankings are low and don’t seem to move up. Research is limited, and usually only theoretical. (Link 2 below) But I think the next few years of ‘controlled chaos’ in the transition to the K-12 programs present amazing opportunity for education officials, teachers and students alike.

Given that students will spend the majority of their formative years at school, I am amazed that the teaching profession here is deemed as inferior in both pay and status. Is it fair to compare teacher salaries here and in developed countries? Of course not. However, in developed countries, teachers are treated as professionals like accountants and medical practitioners. I don’t see that here.

This then begs the question why education, the status of teachers (salary, training and resources) is not a major election issue? I saw that one candidate says they will greatly increase the pay for police, but I have yet to see anyone talking about teachers. How can rural schools run the new K-12 programs (and universities develop new undergrad and graduate programs) without a major funding infusion? How can schools run ICT and science programs with no labs? (If the US needs USD$ 4Bil to upgrade – Link 3 below – the Philippines needs PHP 2 Trillion minimum to get going). How can teachers act on a student’s natural curiosities if there is no flexibility to modify and enhance course content?

Link 1: http://www.nscb.gov.ph/mdg/MDGWatchasofSeptember2015.pdf

Link 2: http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/education/44146-asean-2015-philippine-higher-education

Link 3: http://www.cnet.com/news/obama-seeks-4-billion-to-reboot-tech-education/

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