Based on international statistics, the provision of higher education in the Philippines is relatively much better than most countries in Asia. In 1995, the country’s gross enrollment ratio in the tertiary level (at 30%) was higher than that of Malaysia or Thailand at 11% and 20%, respectively (see Figure 9.1). The country was even ranked 24th worldwide on proportion of higher education enrollment to the general population (2,981 students per 100,000 population in 1995). It is also important to note that the country’s attainment rates for the population over age 25 in 1995 was considerably high at 23%—the average for East Asia and the Pacific was only at 3%. The transition rate from completion of high school to vocational or higher education was also significant at 89.3% in 2001 (CHED Statistical Bulletin, 2004), so that most of the students who finish high school get to enter a college or university.WHY are these education outcomes at the college level in stark contrast to the dismal situation in the grade school and high school levels? It may have something to do with this statistic (again from CBPD) --
The total number of higher education institutions (HEIs) in the Philippines has reached 1,787 (with satellites) in 2004. About 1,363 (or 76.3%) are private while 424 (or 23.7%) are public-run institutions. The bulk of the public higher education system is composed of state universities and colleges (SUCs) ... there are 360 SUCs—111 main and 249 satellite campuses in the country. Since 1990 the number of SUCs has considerably increased by as much as 160%.The percentage of private schools at the College level would actually be much higher than 76% if not for that spurt in the growth of the aptly acronymmed SUCs (State Universities and Colleges), which has become a popular craze among insane or giddy Congressmen who are setting up publicly-funded colleges and universities at a record pace for reasons both political and parochial. CBPD describes the rot:
Hence, one of unintended consequences of this political exercise is the proliferation of substandard HEIs [higher education institutions] and the conversion of overgrown high schools into state colleges as well as conversion of state colleges into universities. This unfettered proliferation of public institutions is problematic for several reasons.Despite the SUCs, the relatively outstanding results that the Philippines attains at the College level is worth trying to understand and explain. The main difference is quite obvious. In the basic education sector (grade school and high school) DEPED rules the roost with its P120 billion in public funding for the public schools. But at the college level, private schools, mostly run by religious corporations are predominant.
First, as public funds available for higher education get scarce, creating more SUCs further dissipates available resources. In 2004, SUCs accounted for 13.71% of the national education budget, down from over 15% in 1999. In contrast, the number of SUCs has expanded by 64% from 219 in 1999 to 360 in 2004.
Second, the public institutions crowd out the private institutions…as the tuition and fees of the SUCs are much cheaper than most private institutions, the former end up crowding out the latter. In fact, the share of public HEIs to total enrollment has doubled from 19% in 1991 to 36% in 2005.
Third, proliferation results in an increasing number of SUCs that are very small by international standards. An international multi-faculty university typically enrolls 10,000 or more students. As of AY 2003-2004, there are some 46 (or 43%) of SUCs that have enrolled fewer than 4,000 students. Moreover, only 25 of 111 institutions were able to meet the criterion.
And, because of the SUCs, we have living proof of what the public school system at the primary and secondary levels may also be doing: CROWDING OUT the private sector educational institutions by driving up private school tuition fees. But by maintaining "tuition-free" public schools, the government performs a double cruelty on the public.
One, it is attracting students out of the private schools into the public school system, thus putting tremendous strain on the public schools themselves, while destroying the viability of the private schools through such unfair competition.
Two, even teachers are now migrating to the public schools where there is job security and starting pay is equivalent to that of policemen. Yet, the public school system into which such students and teachers go, have little leftover resources after paying everybody's salary to invest in buildings, books and computers, and thus deliver very little actual education.
The government's involvement in public education IS unfair competition against a private school sector that would eagerly take up the burden of educating the masses, even the poor masses. For that is what the nuns, priests and other religious folks in the education sector usually take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to do.
It is perhaps both good and bad that history has bequeathed the country with a large number of private schools and institutions run by religious orders and corporations that are almost entirely devoted to the tasks of educating the young.
In the time of the Spanish Taliban, (what Mabini called the "frailocracy") schools were the instruments of a united Church and State, that together ruled in each other's name.
But I think that the De La Salles Universities of today, the Ateneos, (and even the centuried UST's that hosted the El Filibusterismo's Class in Physics), have been vastly transformed by the arrival of Democracy and ARE largely devoted to academic excellence instead of "religious" conquests to improve the Filipino race. Enlightened people in the Philippines have come to accept the truth of the statement oft repeated here at Philippine Commentary: Democracy saves religions from each other! By shedding an iron-clad theocracy, Christian institutions and religious communities in general have discovered that in an atmosphere of religious liberty and tolerance can all paths up the mountain be found, validated and cherished. In a democracy, everyone gets the opportunity to achieve their optimum potential. I think that is why our best schools are still the private religious ones. The secular adventure that is the University of the Philippines, and the rest of the public school system, must therefore be viewed with not a lil chagrin. Things have come full circle. For although there is still a hard-headed addiction to the ideal left by American colonialists that public education should be largely free and universal, for some reason the part about education being "non-sectarian" and "secular" has been lost!
Yet the facts of history have flagged the public education enterprise from the time of Ferdinand Marcos to be false, or futile, and now, largely a failure. For in a very real sense, those who pay for education, whether they start out being rich or poor, usually end up being rich, or at least, not poor. The Rich seem to know this instinctively, but the vast majority of the Poor, continue to be fooled by the politicians and bureaucrats that "free public education" is for the Poor, when it is really for them, the politicians and the bureaucrats and the government's vast army of employees. That is the reason why, if any Filipino family is at all able, they put their kids in private schools!
FOLLOW THE MONEY? FOLLOW THE CURRICULUM! My long post on the Basic Education Curriculum yesterday dwelt on the Constitutional aspects, but, as discussed in the ensuing Comments, the Curriculum is all-important from a budgetary standpoint as well. The reason is that it is the Curriculum that dictates the grand divvying up of that 120 billion peso DEPED national budget allocation. A congested curriculum with lots and lots of subjects and "learning areas" implies lots and lots of teachers, and bureaucrats to supervise and administer them, as well as staff to assist and help them! Thus a congested curriculum not only fattens up the Deped's employment rolls and organizational plantilla positions, it also crowds out from the budget Capital Outlays and other investments in school buildings, classrooms, desks, computers, books, etcetera that the STUDENTS need. Thus, the perpetual hand-wringing over "how little is being spent on education" is really accompanied by the sounds of the Deped Employees Union as it gulps down another P100 billion peso salary porkasaurus. No one's getting rich being a public school teacher of course, but there isn't much of a school for the teachers and students to study in either, because "education" is really welfare and government jobs mostly for our women, our best women, mind you. The public schools are largely aging vats.
SPECULATION: One reason the Dept. of Education may be injecting Religion into its Curriculum may be a kind of envy at the undeniable success of private religious schools even at the Basic Education level. No one denies that the best schools are in fact those schools that are often named after Catholic Saints. I have no doubt that the majority of those Education PhD's who are designing curricula for the Deped probably went to convent schools themselves and know how effective such character education techniques are. What they don't realize is that Public Schools are not the beaterios they went too, and cannot operate in the same manner.
WHAT DOES COLLEGE TEACH US ABOUT BASIC EDUCATION LEVELS? Well, they are two different systems, when one apprehends them in the proper light. But it seems to me one should become more like the other. We could start by phasing out all those SUCs! Next, government could get out of high schools and just concentrate all its resources on pre-school and elementary. If things get better, (how could they get worse??) there could be further privatization.
In the end, what really matters is what really works. We need to take certain ideological blinders in order to see this. But it must be done.