But WHY is there a shortage of school buildings and classrooms in the Public Schools? It may have something to do with the way the Department of Education divvies up its budget allocation, projected in 2006 to be around P120 billion pesos. Here is data from the Congress Analysis of the President's 2006 budget (Table 8.7 page 93 Deped Budget By Object of Expenditure). The shortage is due to both the preponderance of the "personal services" allocation (salaries) and the fact that instead of spending P2 Billion on school buildings as it did in 2004 (when the elections were nigh), the administration spent only P1 Billion in 2005 and plans to spend the same paltry sum in 2006 to close the "classroom gap" -- over the calculation of which there seems to have been an embarrassing incident at yesterday's Cabinet meeting when OIC Fe Hidalgo led off the media-covered meeting with an announcement that there would be shortage in class rooms this year. But Deped has more serious problems both in the actual results being achieved by the public educational enterprise and of a Constitutional nature that more than anything, proves the rot in the public school system.
The Department of Education (DEPED) has published the 2006 Basic Education Curriculum for Elementary Schools here as a set of links:
Along with the Bureau of Secondary Education Primer 2006 BEC is an all important document that affects everything about the P120 billion pesos or so that Deped will spend on the Basic Education Sector, from the billion-peso School Building Program to the hiring and training of new and old teachers. Adding in the tertiary or college level under CHED, the education sector is slated to get about 150 billion pesos under the 2006 National Budget, the biggest allocation after debt service.BASIC EDUCATION CURRICULUM (2006 B.E.C.)
4). Edukasyong Pangtahanan at Pangkabuhayan
Lesson Guides for Mathematics
- Mathemetics I
- Mathematics II
- Mathematics III
- Mathematics IV
- Mathemetics V
- Mathematics VI
- PELC - Kapayapaan
- PELC - Paggalang
- PELC - Pagmamahal 1
- PELC - Pagmamahal (Disiplina)
- PELC - Pagmamalasakit sa Kapwa
- PELC - Pananampalataya
- PELC - Pinagkukunang Yaman (Pagtitipid)
- PELC - Katotohanan
- PELC - Pangkabuhayan
- PELC - Kalusugan
- PELC - Saloobin
POP QUIZ: How many subjects are taught in public elementary schools, how much time per day is spent on each one, and what is expected of each student at end of each grade level? You should be able to answer all three questions after studying the above documents.
The 2006 Basic Education Curriculum determines:
(1) what subjects will be taught to the nearly 18 million grade school and high school students in the ten years of the Philippine public school system;
(2) how much time is allotted to each subject per school day; and
(3) what the expected learning outcomes are -- e.g., the Philippine Elementary Learning Competencies (PELC) -- at the end of each of the ten years that a typical student spends in the basic education system (Grades 1-6 and High School 1,2,3,4)
The reason the Curriculum is so critical is not merely academic or philosophical. The BEC determines how the human and material resources of Deped are to be allocated for each subject area, and therefore is highly charged with politics and turf wars. It also dictates content which textbook publishers, teachers, planners and administrators must incorporate into their work and which the students must then learn.
The biggest change I've noticed from just a few years ago is the RECONGESTION of the curriculum with a plethora of subjects and thus plantilla positions. Just perusing the link list above, one can already get the impression that the core academic subjects of English, Pilipino, Math and Science, are joined by a festooned flotilla of other subject areas. Look for example at the innocent-looking entry called Makabayan (#6 in the BEC). Makabayan is actually made up of many sub-subjects: Sibika at Kultura; Heograpiya, Kasaysayan, Sining, Musika, Home Economics, and P.E. ("physical culture and sports").
And what might you ask, would PELC be, with its multifarious entries dominating the "Character Education" subject area at #7 in the BEC? The acronym stands for "Philippine Elementary Learning Competencies" and is a tabular listing of what the system expects students to have learned at each grade level.
But here now is my translation into English of one of the modules listed above as PELC- Pananampalataya (Faith) one of the "Character Education" modules of "expected outcomes" under the 2006 Basic Education Curriculum.
Character EducationIn my opinion, this is a flagrant and obvious violation of Freedom of Religion as enshrined in the Bill of Rights. It is an atrocious contradiction of the principle of Separation of Church and State which is thereby violated by the the Basic Education Curriculum. How more clearly and succinctly can the Constitution state it than the following --
Basic Value: Faith
Related Value: Belief in God
Expected Fruit: Can show the ways of knowing God.
First Grade: Belief in the Lord God ("Panginoong Diyos")
1. Can show belief and faith in God who created everything in the world.
1.1 Can show love for God
- Goes to places of worship.
- Follows religious activities
- Obeys parents and elders
- Gives value to all things created by God
Second Grade: Respect For Places of Worship ("Pook Sambahan")
1. Accepts that places of prayer and the house of God are holy places.
1.1 Respects places of worship.
- Wears proper clothing in places of worship.
- Avoids making noise in places of worship.
- Avoids playing and running in such places.
1.2 Avoids abusive acts in places of worship.
- Avoids eating in places of worship.
- Avoids writing on walls and benches.
- Avoids littering in places of prayer.
Third Grade: Respect For Beliefs and Religion of Others
1. Accepts that people have their own religious beliefs.
1.1 Shows respect for the religious rights of others.
- Values beliefs and religious faith of others.
- Respect for places of worship of other religions.
1.2 Recognizes different forms of religion.
Christianity (Catholic, Protestant, etc.)
Fourth Grade: Valuing the Grace of God
1. Appreciates the beneficial gifts and graces of God.
1.1 Takes care of God's physical, mental and spiritual gifts.
- Acceptance of and gratitude for all God's gifts.
- Wise use of all God-given graces.
- Enrich and build on the gifts of the Almighty.
1.2 Uses God-given talents and abilities in a meaningful way.
- Participates in Church activities and projects.
- Voluntarily offers help to anyone in need.
Fifth Grade: Living By One's Faith
1. Brings to life values and lessons from one's own faith.
1.1 Fulfills obligations and duties to one's own religion.
- Attends service on the day set by one's own religion.
- Obedience to the orders of one's own religion.
1.2 Avoids what is forbidden by one's own religion.
- Exploitation of others.
- Addiction to vices, etcetera.
Grade Six: Giving Value to Godly Works ("Paghahalaga sa Gawaing Maka-Diyos")
1. Gives value to Godly works.
1.1 Displays Godly works according to one's own beliefs.
- Donating to charity.
- Fasting and abstinence.
1.2 Obeys the Golden Rule: Don't do unto others what you would not have others do unto you.
- Badmouthing others.
(Bill of Rights, 1987 Constitution) Art III Section 5: No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.I have never seen a more brazen and comprehensive example of how to violate Freedom of Religion by "respecting an establishment of religion" than the PELC on Faith. The desired learning outcome at Grade One is that every child shall believe in God by the end of his or her first tender year in public school, and can even "show love" for such Deity. By Grade Six, according to the PELC on Faith, it is expected that those about to go into high school are donating alms to charity, practicing fasting and abstinence ("pag-aayuno") along with the Golden Rule and engaging in "Godly works"! ("gawaing maka-Diyos") Such is the obviously religious nature, philosophy and methodology of the DEPED's Character Education program. This is NOT democracy. This is Filipino Talibanism! It's time to put that Gang of Four Hundred Thousand that runs public education out of business.
Although I certainly consider ecumenism to be a virtue, that is not what the Principle of Separation of Church and State or religious freedom mean. The government may neither promote nor prohibit the free exercise of religion, even for atheists. Thus, though this PELC bends over backwards to mention the dominant religions in the country, it leaves out many of them since an exhaustive listing is actually impossible. There is no mention of atheism, which is protected just as much as Opus Dei's undergarment fashion sense. This PELC certainly promotes "worship" and "faith" and thus is a glaring example of "respecting an establishment of religion."
It is quite obvious to me that whoever designs the PELC portion of the Basic Education Curriculum is probably a Roman Catholic who has no appreciation of the acute Constitutional issues that such an official enunciation represents. It doesn't take a lawyer to see that Deped should be sued for culpable violations of the Constitution for this. A Mason, an atheist, a Rizalista, a lumad or any citizen, even a member of one of those other religions mentioned in the PELC on Faith and Worship, should have the legal standing to sue Deped for grave abuse of discretion, if not outright violations of the Bill of Rights, for the so-called Philippine Elementary Learning Competencies in the 2006 BEC.
Ironically, Religion is already taught far better and perhaps more effectively in all the private religious schools, and without Constitutional infirmity. Public schools are not private schools. As essential components of the State, the Deped and its agencies and employees are strictly sworn to uphold the democratic Bill of Rights, and may neither promote nor prohibit religion of any and all kinds, including "non-religion" like atheism.
Thus the Curriculum is not only choking in futility with congestion, it poisons the democratic well. The curriculum designers risibly ignore the most fundamental principles for religious freedom for which this Republic stands and its heroes fought and died. And I haven't even gotten to the insane tenets of political, environmental and cultural correctness in the rest of BEC and PELC!
It really looks like things have gone from bad to worse over at Deped. And I continue to curse Raul Roco's name even as I continue to mourn the removal of the Science Subject in Grades 1 and 2 of the curriculum, from which it is still missing in 2006 BEC, I see, like two missing front teeth, since he knocked them out in 2001, in order to make room for Makabayan, with its hordes of part time teachers.
Looking on the bright side, Deped has seen the light and seen fit to call for a return to English language instruction to shore up Filipino competitiveness in overseas employment, as well as outsourcing industries like call centers. The Deped has received a P1.5 billion Special Purpose Fund to purchase English instructional materials and to train teachers in English. (I just hope they don't spend it on Roman Catholic Catechisms translated into English.) It finally dawns on them that all of that academically oriented but politically correct panitikan and balarila isn't exactly helping the millions of Filipinos that are forced to seek jobs overseas, or in the burgeoning call center industry where English proficiency is a premium as the race heats up with India, Singapore, Malaysia and even China.
2006 BEC not only violates the Bill of Rights, it is also a highly congested curriculum, multifaceted, multilayered, over-pomped-and-circumstanced -- as if it were written by a large committee of fresh PhDs in Education eckeck. But it runs contrary to the concrete recommendations of the international education community for countries to adopt streamlined curricula that concentrate on the basics, like the ones in Singapore, Korea, Japan and Hong Kong, who are the perennial stars in the international math and science and literacy achievement testing. Look for example at the decades long work and research of the Trends in Math and Science Study (TIMSS). Highly congested curricula look good on paper, but they don't work out very well in practice, and it had been the concensus, up until the GMA administration showed up, that streamlining it by reducing the subjects to the essential core or reading, writing and computing. A congested curriculum is always politically and ideologically motivated because you can stick in all sorts of things that lead to more employment opportunities for a program that is more about that than education.
When Bro. Andrew Gonzales, FSC, was running Deped, he was working for a Curriculum with only three subject areas: Math, Science and Language. Instead we have a fruit-and -nut mix of everything from Graeco Roman civilization to the Renaissance to home and industrials arts of the 21st Century and beyond to the lala-land of politically correct Patriotism (Makabayan) and Religious character education -- all specified in the curriculum, but with no textbooks to read, or school classrooms and desks to read them on, no computers or libraries. Many teachers will literally bring their own desks and chairs and teach under the mango tree. His was not a popular incumbency because they could see he was going to fix the budget.
A great deal of my current information on all these matters comes from a very valuable document produced by the Congressional Budget Planning Dept. entitled An Analysis of the President's 2006 Budget (PDF) which produces about as close to a Report Card on the public school system as one might find. For example on page 88 of the above analysis, one finds this succinct summary of Philippine educational achievement under the Dept. of Education:
Based on the 2003 Functional Literacy Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS), basic or simple literacy stood at 93.4%, one of the highest in Southeast Asia. Across regions, the NCR posted the highest literacy rate at 99.0% while ARMM registered the lowest at 70.2%. The achievement levels for both elementary and secondary schools based on mean scores on the National Elementary Assessment Test (NEAT) and National Secondary Assessment Test (NSAT) were low for all subjects, with mean percentage scores of only about 54% from 1998 to 2000. The national averages based on 2002 National Diagnostic Test (NDT) and 2003 National Achievement Test (NAT) showed similar results. Only 2% of graduating high school students passed the NAT. About 90% of all the students scored below 50%. The average score of students in English was 50% (see Table 8.3).I think it is time for the "Board of Directors" of this Republic to review the permanent Lease Hold we've granted to the National Government and the Dept. of Education over the future of education in the Philippines. The Government is simply the WRONG institution to provide education in the Philippines because the 150 Billion pesos going to the education sector is really a subsidy to Comelec and a gigantic employment and welfare program. The historical data and stunning statistics above prove that the public school system run by the national government is a massive and historic failure.
On the High School Readiness Test, 92% of examinees failed, only 8% got a score of 50% and above. Only 0.6% got a score of 75% and above. Half of the total number of examinees
scored below 30%. In international competitions, Filipino high school students performed way below average. The 2003 Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) participated in by 42 countries ranked them at 41st and 42nd in the science and mathematics examinations. This indicated an almost unchanged status from the 1999 TIMSS.
It's time to privatize education and get the government out of it. We should spend every centavo we can afford to educate our people. But the Government-run Sari-sari store run by the Gang of Four Hundred Thousand with its Ukay-ukay curriculum is not where we should spend 150 BILLION PESOS this year. It just ain't.
POSTSCRIPT: I am beginning to suspect that a major slip up like PELC-Pananampalataya is due to a widespread misconception about the Principle of Separation of Church and State. Many people seem to think it is mainly applicable to Churchmen as a legal principle to keep the Church separate from the State, to keep it from meddling in politics. It is no such thing as I've often discussed here at Philippine Commentary. The Principle of Separation of Church and State is directed entirely at the State and its agencies and personnel as a strict edict of neutrality in matters of Religion. The State may neither promote nor prohibit Religion. The phrase "respecting an establishment of Religion" refers to any action, policy or statute passed and enforced by the State which promotes Religion. Thus, when the Deped proclaims it to be an expected learning outcome that kids believe in and love God, they are doing things that properly belong to the Church, not the State. It is no small thing either, for it reveals an embarrassing fact: our State does not understand Democracy or the Constitution. Please note that every Curriculum has the force of Law, and is approved by the President herself.