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Jennifer M. Oestar
Secondary School Teacher III
Canda Nationaln High School
Sariaya, Quezon

Televisions, radios, newspapers and even social media would have arrived at the
same shout out that the quality of Philippine education is at-risk. Former secretary Jesli
A. Lapus listed the top four important contemporary issues or challenges to be resolved
by the Department of Education. These are the 1) quality of education, 2) the affordability
of education, 3) the government budget for education and 4) the education mismatch
among graduates.
Based from the study of UNICEF on 2012, poverty remains to be the main reason
why many Filipino children shy away from school. Children in difficult circumstances and
with extreme poverty alienate themselves from school and choose to work for a living. As
revealed from UNESCO survey of 2012, there’s a decline in the quality of Philippine
education at the elementary and secondary levels. This was supported by the results of
the National Achievement Test among elementary and high school students and the
NCAE were way below the target mean score. Trends in International Mathematics and
Science Study (TIMMS) as of year 2003 revealed that the Philippines is ranked no.42 in
Mathematics and 41 in Science out of 46 countries in Asia.
When it comes to affordability of education, there is a big disparity in educational
achievements across social groups. Results have shown that socio-economically
disadvantaged students have higher dropout rates in elementary level. Most of the
freshmen students at the tertiary level came from relatively well-off families. Only a few
from the large number of student population from elementary pursue to high school and
rarely to college.
To remedy the insufficiency in funding, the Philippine Constitution has mandated
the government to allocate the highest proportion of its budget to education. However,
the Philippines is still having one of the lowest budget allocations to education among the
ASEAN countries. The Scholarship system in the Philippines is also problematic as the
country’s student assistance efforts to date are “meager and fragmented.” The high
population growth in the country is also another factor in the high persistence of high
pupil-teacher ratio (PTR). Another reason is the failure to adequately implement the
teacher deployment policy.
Another observation is the large proportion of mismatch between training and
actual jobs. This is the major problem at the tertiary level and it is also the cause of the
existence of a large group of educated unemployed or underemployed. Even teachers
became victimized by over-worked and underpaid policy of the system thus this explains
why the teaching profession find it hard to attract the best and the brightest from the crop
of students anymore. Untrained educators can lead to a pool of half-baked, unprepared,
and incompetent graduates. Moreover, others lose interest after leaving school owing to
illness, or because the teacher cannot meet individual needs. When it comes to issues of
competitiveness, brain drain, flight of skilled labor and other related matters, the
insufficient job opportunities and wage in the country provides the desire to work abroad
causing great lost in the country’s manpower.
The above situations are just few of the many situations depicting the diversity and
equity of the education system. As propositioned by education reformists, the “one size
fits all” policy is not the solution to addressing diversity in the classroom. I believe that
curriculum and instruction must be modified to meet the different needs of the learners.
What works in the city, may not work in the rural areas.
I personally believe that the present educational system of the country is facing
serious problems that must easily resolve. With lack classrooms, students are forced to
fit themselves on the available ones, resulting to over-crowded classes. And because
schools lack books, students will be forced to endure with the available ones, making
them bear 3:1 student to book ratio. Finally, because schools lack teachers, teachers are
forced to teach large quantities of students while a large number of students have to
endure on a single teacher, and the average 1:65 teachers to student ratio. It is really
hard to come up with those challenges but it is still our responsibility as teachers to be
the agent of hope and change for our learners. We just need to become updated, efficient
and resourceful in the craft that we have chosen—that is teaching.
To conclude, the problem is simple: the entire schooling system as we know it is
flawed. We are now in the information age and need a system that caters the needs of
modern learners by utilizing the massive and diverse amount of rich media available
today. We need to transform the old way of schooling into something where students can
happily learn under teachers who gladly teach with tools they can easily access. Yes, the
budget needs to be raised, no doubt and old paradigms need to be broken and replaced
too. We have a great opportunity to improve the education of our children. It’s not yet too
late, we can start anew.