Friday, June 2, 2006

What College Teaches Us About High School and Grade School

DUCATION, ironically enough, brightens up considerably for the Philippines at the College level. In the Congress Budget Planning Dept 's Analysis of the 2006 Budget, pp. 100-101--
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.

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 institutionsas 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.
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.

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.


Without Borders said...

i could understand crowding out but i dont understand how "crowding out" drives tuition fees in the private sector up! It doesnt seem to tally with economics 101. if govt SUCs' tuition are low, and its crowding out the private sector, then it should push down average tuition fees in the private sector. i see your point re reforms, that we should limit the number of SUCs, but i couldnt see the priests and jesuits offering hard sciences where enrolees are few. supposing the government closes down MSU system in Marawi City, Tawi-tawi, General Santos and USM in North Cotabato today, would the jesuits takeover? I dont think so.

AmericanPainter said...

DJB, I understand your point but doesn't your way leave out the vast majority of poor families education.

Seems to me that a country can hardly advance by educating only a portion of it's children.

I have two questions:
Shouldn't public education be funded and improved to be the best that it can be and better than private schools?

Shouldn't education be made free and mandatory for ALL children?


Ah American Painter, what you say happens in democracies.

The Philippines and its current government only pay lip service to the ideals of democracy.

Rizalist said...

AP -- We need to think of the 150B budgeted for Education as real, cold hard cash, because that is what it is. It will be drawn mostly in salaries. All I am saying is, why are we spending it on the particular group of people that we call the Deped? Tonight Sen. Gordon already said to ANC News that he is filing a bill that will vastly expand the school voucher program, allowing govt money to go to private schools as subsidies for taking in students from public schools not able to provide the service.

I am not saying we shouldn't spend the money on education or abandon the masses of kids.

I am merely questioning the entire assumption of a "free public school system." Where is the "free" in P150 Billion?



Off topic and with your indulgence - Philippine media has been talking about a spate of unsolved killings in the Philippines and before we forget it, I thought I should share the following news with you:

Btw, Ellen, off topic but everybody is concerned with the rampant, unsolved killings in the Philippines. Begging to disgress but I believe the families of the victims should bring the case to the European Court. - Thanks!

France convicted by European Court for violating Right to Life

Le Figaro reported on June 1, 2006 that France was convicted last Thursday by the European Court over the death of Pascal Tais, a French-Moroccan who was found dead in his prison cell in Arcachon in the south of France.

The European Court convicted France for violating of Article 2 (Right to Life) of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Tais, 33 was found dead in his cell in 1993 following his arrest for being drunk. The police who arrested him admitted that they had slapped Tais, hit him on the hands, legs and on his thorax with a police truncheon on the excuse that the French-Moroccan was resisting arrest. Tais was found dead the next day covered in blood and in his excrement.

According to Le Figaro, France was convicted over the death of the French-Moroccan in violation of his “right to life” as well as for the absence of efficent inquiry which should have led to determining the circumstances surrounding Tais’ death.

My personal comment: This goes to show that the in a union of states where democracy is upheld, no power, no government, no military might is feared when it comes to the violation of the right to life - one’s inalienable human right.

It is very likely that French government will made to pay a heavy fine to the family of the victim and will be required by the European Court to punish the culprits involved in the death of Fascal Tais.

This was not the first time when the Europeans acted in unison to punish violators and not the first time when even a government, a nation as powerful as France is not spared from a criminal conviction for not being able to uphold a human right.

This is how it should be!

Moreover, I think the families of the victims of those grissly political murders should bring their case to the European Court. There is a huge chance that not only will they be heard but Gloria and her government will be punished!

Bernardo F. Ronquillo said...

DJB, I studied under the PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM. I went to a Public school during my Elementary, Private School in High School, but Public School again in college because I graduated from the University of the Philippines.

During my elementary grades, each section or class are assigned a classroom it can call its own. During our primary years (grades one to four) we have one teacher and one classroom and have classes from 7:30 am up to 4:00 pm. During our intermediate years (grades five to six), we have one classroom but several teachers in math, english, science, social studies, good manners & right conduct, Home Economics, Work Education, Physical Education, and Music & Arts, with one of them acting as our adviser. We are 25 pupils or less in one class. And boasting aside, we turned out fully educated.

Now, year 2006, under Gloria, there are 60 pupils in one class or section with two sections using a SINGLE CLASSROOM, one in the morning and one in afternoon. In some places there are three shifts in a classroom. But what blew my mind is an elementary school that have 4 shifts for a single classroom with each shift having 75, repeat 75 pupils. And Gloria dares to say they have arrested the classroom shortage?

So DJB, I will repeat what I last posted. We must increase the budget for Education with the increase specifically for A CRASH SCHOOL BUILDING PROGRAM. And to augment this the President must magically produce from somewhere else a bigger amount to finally erase the classroom shortage and uplift the quality of public school education. For unless the rich and the very rich of this country give until it hurts, the vast majority of Filipinos will never know that they truly care for the less fortunate in our land.

There are so many mansions and palatial homes with empty of unused spaces that will blow your breath away. Vast lands and buildings. But in contrast there are these children cramped in a classroom trying to learn but unable to because they come in 3 shifts due to lack of space. It makes you cry out to heaven!



I'm glad you wrote what the educational system used to be like.

Now I understand why, say, the older generation really seemed and sounded like they had solid education - there's really no secret. They were the learned.

The education you received is exactly what we have here in Europe: subjects, students/pupils/class ratio, teaching staff, etc.

I mentioned that in an earlier posting.

It's quite sad that instead of progressing, we have in fact, retrogressed.

Gloria, the power grabber has no vision, no plans, has a knee-jerk reaction to problems - she's only capable of thinking no further than the tip of her nose. And people say she's intelligent. Either she's really dumb pretending she's not or she's got a more sinister purpose in life.

Could it be that she's bent on maintaining this culture of mis-educating, non-educating a huge segment of the population (those that cannot afford to go to private schools which is the majority of the Filipino children) to glue herself to power.

She intends to keep people in ignoble ignorance in order to rule longer.

She knows that when the majority of the people possess solid education, they are bound to go up in arms against second-class, 2 foot nothing tyrants like her.

What else could the reasoon be?

The sad thing is those who are educated seem to relish the status quo. Unbelievable!

Rizalist said...

BFR--We have to assume that P150B is pretty close to what the govt can afford to pay on education in 2006. I happen to wholeheartedly agree with your idea that we should go into a crash building program for schools. We spent P2B in 2004, but only P1B in 2005 and 2006 is also P1B. I agree that we should spend about P15B to do so and close the 60,000 plus classroom gap. Next we need to spend an equal amount to facilitate them with computers, books and libraries. Call it P30B in capital expenditures.

We could easily fund that simply by DELETING the entire Makabayan and PELC components of the Curriculum!

PS> I am glad you aren't taking any of this personally BFR. I too am a partial product of public schools, both here and in the US. My comments about the education system in general say nothing of the worth of individuals, which are due to their own efforts as much as the circumstances.

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

American Painter raises a key point: Shouldn't public education be funded and improved to be the best that it can be and better than private schools?

The key phrase, aside from funding, is improving public schools. Improvement will only come if

(1) public schools are made accountable for their performance as provider of education services. This requires an honest to goodness national achievement testing scheme to measure performance. It also lays down a basis for removing non-performing school administrators and teaching staff. From my short experience, this is what the local DepEd divisions fear the most.

(2) information on comparative school performance is regularly made available to parents to allow them to choose where to send their children. National test results should be published, widely circulated and discussed.

(3) testing should cover private schools to allow benchmarking and further operationalize choice. Right now, it is difficult to rely on the conventional wisdom that private schools are doing a better job. Maybe with Ateneo, De La Salle and the big leaguers. But how about the private schools in the countryside?

So, it is not only about the money but ensuring that we get the bang from our buck. That is why I still believe that efforts like this are best managed at the local level, which makes devolving education an increasingly viable option, especially for those who will demand for it.

Rizalist said...

Long after GMA is gone, these problems will plague education, as they did long b4 she arrived on the scene. Someday, education may become a simple matter of an injection or a pill. But at the moment, young homo sapiens have to do it all the hard way, they have to LEARN it!

Moreover, I am sure there are still many, many BFRs in the public schools, who will make it no matter what.

But I think that the old model of a TEACHER-centric education system based in physical classrooms goes against the spirit and matter of the 21st Century.

Pretend you can dictate how 10% of the budget is spent, say P12 billion.

What would you do with P12 billion that could benefit all 20,000,000 kids?

(And why isn't the govt doing THAT?)

Why? because it cannot lay off all the "truck drivers" to whom it has given lifetime contracts. That is the nature of the govt and the civil service system, which has sustained my own clan for generations.

But that is one reason why, in my opinion, govts are truly ill-suited to actually be running and operating schools. Just like we wouldn't want the govt in the fast food business, or supermarkets, or any of the other things the private sector is good at.

Rizalist said...

Willie--I think that the Natl Elementary Achievement Test (NEAT) and its high school counterpart NSAT were pretty comprehensive indicators of performance in both public and private schools. That is also objective data that supports the correct perception that the private schools, in general do better than the public schools. But that doesn't mean all public schools are worse than all private schools. They say it's becaue they are expensive, but that's debatable because I think the private schools are expensive because of the public schools.

Still the testing on public schools was truly depressing: Less than 2% of high school seniors passed the NSAT at the 50% level! (less than (0.5% at the 75% level!).

That's Deped's own testing.

They administered NEAT and NSAT for many many years to ALL the students in publi and private schools. Always with generally the same results. So they went to a random sampling plan! Also with the same results. plus or minus some. hehe. They had to save the money to pay the Testing Center staff. Sigh.

AmericanPainter said...

“That is also objective data that supports the correct perception that the private schools, in general do better than the public schools.”

DJB, no doubt that is true, what can be expected of a school system that provides only one teacher for 60 students? Actually I’ve talked with Public Ed teachers here that had almost 100 students per classroom. No individual attention is possible and little education can be provided.

When I said “FREE” earlier I was speaking of free to the students. Obviously there is nothing free about 150 Billion Pesos but education is public responsibility and the gov’t will only pay lip service as long the public allows it.

You’ve lived and worked in America and I’m sure you are aware that public education funding is number one with all American communities. There are no more than 20 - 25 students per classroom. Public schools are far better than private schools there, no reason it can’t be here also if the people recognize it’s importance and possibility.

Rizalist said...

I owe a great deal personally to the public schools of America. I put myself and my wife through college while working full time. But my tuition fee for the first two years of college, in a small community college in California was $5 per semester! Later when we moved to the State College it became a whopping $50 per semester. There were
5 persons in each of my physics classes and the profs were from caltech and stanford!

there is no doubt in my mind that we can have the same thing here someday. But not right now. We gotta pay for the gas that keeps the lights on...

Regarding alternative approaches to education, i think that 150 billion pesos spent all at once would make INTERNET universally available in the Philippines.

That by itself would do more for education around here (and depraved wasting of time too!) than what we do now.

There just has to be a smarter way of spending that money. It's just too automatic that we make some pious paeans to Education with a capital E, instead of looking at the objective facts on the ground.

It is a sign that we have the right values, but as Einstein (or somebody smart like that) once said, the hardest thing to see, is what's right in front of our face.

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

Another outstanding feature of the US public school system is greater local control through school boards. This is the logic behind my advocacy for decentralizing public education. Accountability is easier to exact, unlike our highly centralized structure where local DepEd divisions respond more to their regional and national superiors, not the communities they directly serve.

The Bystander said...

"Ang aklat ng isang tunay na mag-aaral ay ang kanyang lipunang kinabibilangan, ang kanyang guro ay ang mamamayan, at ang kanyang pagsusulit ay ang pagsasagawa ng isang mapagpalayang pagkilos."

AmericanPainter said...

As Wiley B Prilles Jr. said, there is greater local control in American schools through local school boards with their own tax base plus federal funding. Local school boards determine teachers salaries, who will teach, who will be the Superintendent, what the curriculum and local policies will be as well as all school spending for what and how much. Nothing is centrally controlled by the Federal government.

An inequity developed, however because some school districts had a higher tax base because it held higher valued properties, which gave them more funding. U.S. Courts ruled that the richer school districts had to share with the less fortunate school districts.

DJB, you would be shocked even more if you had to go back to those same schools now. You would find the cost to be around $200.00 per semester hour. “Free” education in America only applies to elementary, middle and high school levels.

With scholarships and Federal guaranteed student loans at low interest rates, however, any student that wishes to attend college, can do so. Repayment of such loans does not begin until one year following graduation.

Rizalist said...

America has its own problems, some as old as ours. Consider that our oldest university, UST, is older than Harvard. But we got out public education system from the US as a colony, since the Spanish really had strange ideas about what constituted "public education." However, we have not responded to the needs of the times since colonial days and we have ended up instead with a system that looks more like the one in Cuba. It needs a kick in the pants to knock some of the cobwebs loose. But it will be hard dislodging the sacred cows.



Like Cuba did you say?

We were in Cuba in July last year for a few days - in Havana to be exact - and I pershonally had the opportunity to visit a primary school there.

You will be surprised to know that antiquated Cuba seems to provide their young students with a better learning environment than the Philippines - in almost all the classes I visited, there were no more than 30 pupils in each class.

The Philippines could learn a few things from Cuba when it comes to educating the young.

Rizalist said...

I stand corrected HB. Things must be worse here than I thought if Cuba has exceeded us.

Bernardo F. Ronquillo said...

Thank you for the compliment DJB and thank you also Hillblogger for including me in your list of the learned. I think undeserved, but thank you so much to both of you.

But what riles me actually is the fact that my three grandchildren are being sent to expensive private schools. And I cannot argue for public schools with my children. People are now biting the bullet but I don't know for how long.

Rizalist said...

haha! I was thinking along the same lines as you bfr, just now after reading mlq3 and the pdi editorial on education.

But you put your finger on it::I bet you not a single person writing today in the newspapers about the need to spend more on public schools actually has any children or grandchildren IN the public schools.

There is something very deep and insightful in this simple and undeniable fact!

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

Modesty aside, Dean, all of my kids are in the public school system in Naga. That is an extra motivation for me to do everything I can to ensure that the city will have better public schools, anchored on greater local control by communities that demand for it.

Rizalist said...

Willy--I've heard lots of good things about Naga schools, and checking out your blog and profile I see you may be one of the reasons for that sterling reputation. I hope you will be successful in diverting more funds to CAPITAL INVESTMENT in your schools, rather than the employment sink that we have turned teaching into. Not only buildings, but books and computers too. Especially internet. I think every community should work to get connected to the rest of the world. it is the surest way that information will reach the furthest barrios.

As for privatization, I seriously believe that is the true solution. Not necessarily to cut govt out, but to let more of the private sector in, or let us say, the local communities.

It is they who should OWN and RUN their schools. By the way, there is more to the Constitution than the part that says "the highest budgetary priority" should go to education. It says a lot about encouraging entrepreneurs, and why not in education.

it can be a lucrative business, as well as a successful service provider.

I just think the govt is ILL-SUITED to the task , because a govt MUST be politically correct.

Often, learning requires that we be politically incorrect, so that we may see the alternative views, and thus learn.

Academic and religious freedom are hard to foster under govts that change, that lie, that steal, that cheat!

Our hope is in ourselves and our families, our friends. The far govt has its own distant concerns. It is not for us, or ours, that they cry their crocodile tears.

But for joy that we are beholden to imperial Manila, to the coffers that are actually our pockets. Our own!

We must fight for what is ours, and sometimes the best way is to keep it with us to begin with, not to allow the central govt to get it, or control or borrow it, or convince us it is theirs and not the peoples!

If I am conservative, it is to conserve the people's resources against the government's greedy and insatiable habits. Which they call anti poverty programs or social services like education.

An "ill-funded bureaucracy" the PDI called Deped today. P150 billion pesos to the education sector -- next only to debt service -- is "ill-funded"?

Most of it is wasted on administrative overhead. Even PdI said tha.! Yet they want us to spend MORE?

Do you see my problem WillY? It's not the amount, but how and who.

As an experiment, just for one year, I'd put up for public bidding, the entire 150 billion pesos. Let Ayala, Smart, Globe, PLDT, IBM, Apple, Microsoft, DLSU, Ateneo, UP, and every body present ideas and programs for how they would promote education in the country.

Can you imagine what we might buy for 150 billion pesos from such folks?

PLDT could supply the entire hardware infrastructure for an internetted national education system, with lots of companies suppling applications, operating systems, software, etc etc, including installation, training, localization, etc. Let food companies bid on supplying breakfasts and lunches; let schools like the La Salle Brothers and Ateneo Jesuits who take vows of poverty chastity and obedience and who've been the most successful educators in the country, in the region, offer their schools to a ten, one hundred times the enrollement they now serve.

Can you imagine what La Salle or Ateneo or St Theresas St Scholasticas could do with just 5 billion pesos?

How would you spend 150 billion pesos, Willy? Would you hire 439,000 teachers you can't fire? and that's about it?

Rizalist said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


What you say makes sense now that you've really come down to it. But I believe looking at simplifying a complex problem by merely abolishing the department is kinda comic. Anyway...

However, I do think that while a lot of private or money making corporations should have the right to go into the education business, the public school system for 6 to 18 year olds (or 16 yr olds, is it?) should be a different thing altogether - the principle of a FREE PUBLIC education just like in any republic must remain.

I really just realized (here) that public school system is cetralized at the Dep Ed which seemed to me is tasked entirely with management, handling, operating, producing, etc. the whole system. These people are not managers, they are bureaucrats and must stick to their jobs.

Indeed, it is not the government's TASK to set up, manage, operate or produce public schools - (gargantuan and unecessary tasks!) government's operational task should be limited to POURING THE MONEY, to SUBSIDIZING the provincial educational boards under the tutelage and responsibility of the government bodies there - it's as if govt through Dep Ed were providing, regularly giving "endowments"...

Decentralization will mean that public school systems will be managed, handled and operated at the regional (provincial) and local level just like in any modern nation.

The Dep Ed should control the curriculum and disburse the budget according to the requirements. In other words, the DepEd is merely the administrator of the budget, the comptroller and the oversight committee for the curriculum - you will then have unclogged your Dep Ed and will no longer need all those unecessary alalays - the whole system will then be FUNCTIONAL.

That's how we do it here.

I won't be surprised that if that happens, the local governments (down to the lowest units) will be high performing and will undoubtedly be joined in their efforts by the local communities.

Willy Prilles is absolutely spot on about this in his blog. If it can be done in Naga, why not elsewhere?

In any case, I don't believe that giving the overall management of such an enormous undertaking to a few private corporations would do the trick - alleviating the public sector of such a huge education dysfunction cannot realistically materialize without the participation of every single human unit in the country.

However, I am of the belief that in order to cut down on some of the exorbitant tuition costs, the government should also subsidize the private learning institutions over and beyond tax exemptions over this or that (which private schools are presumably getting anyway). The subsidies could be based on an achievement ratio - It can be done and should be done. That's where perhaps, your idea of a cut of the pie could go to, i.e., 5 billion pesos to La Salle, St Theresa, etc....

Dean, the public school education cannot be outsourced much like what we do with hospitals today for the simple reason that hospitals cater to a very different brand of clientele: terribly seasonal while public education is all about permanent clientele!


With regards junior high-schoolers' poor academic achievement, the country could also adopt a system which we call "alternance".

At age 16 (or whatever you have equivalent to 2 years before being university eligible), when a child seemingly is not cut out for further university studies you could adopt a 2 year program whereby the child's or the student's education time is divided between classroom work and apprenticeship/on the spot professional work time in a company which is graded and also forms part of the curriculum. The children who pass the courses - classroom and apprentice work - are entitled to take the state exams for that particular field. They may choose to go to university or may simply join the professional work force but will have acquired suitable experience to give them a good headstart;

The students who do this "alternance" are paid a minimum amount of money by the for their services.

In this way, companies or groups become instrumental to educating our young.

I am very "biased" about the public education system here because it works. It is also very innovative.

Did you know that the law stipulates that the a company in France employing more than 10 people is obliged by law to revert the equivalent of 1.1% of total mass salary payments to the continuing education of its employees or their dependents?

When you have the size of a conglomerate employing 120,000 people paying out hundreds of millions of Euros in salaries, the 1.1% becomes a huge chunk of money destined for continuing education.

The company could either give it to the regional education board to finance the "alternance" educational system or set up its own learning institute for employees who want to obtain formal higher education.

One of the posts I held while I was working for the regional government of Paris and suburbs had something to do with the "alternance" education.

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

Whether it's privatization or local control, I believe we're on the same leaf here, Dean. Butch Abad, when he was in Naga as guest during our first ever local education planning event, said something about education being too important to be left alone to the DepEd. USec Chito Gascon also shared with us a DepEd presentation before the NEDA where Abad's predecessor, Edilberto de Jesus, said the problem with public education is not only about inadequate resources but also how the whole system is managed. Sinking more money on it is throwing good money after bad, they said.

Bottomline is: these leaders realize, as we both do, that is not all about the money. More importantly, it's also how we get the most out of what we invest in public education.

Several posts back, you justified continuing US investment in public education on the basis of its being a genuine democracy. I still believe Dean that there are local communities in the country who are trying mightily to keep the democratic ideals alive -- Gloria's regime notwithstanding. I hope Naga will continue to carry that torch. And this is enough reason for us to continue finding a middle ground between total privatization and strong state presence in basic education.

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

Let me also share with you a little concern and I hope you, and any of your readers, can help us through your contacts.

As early as January 17, 2006, I sent an email to Nicholas Negroponte inquiring about the US$100 laptop. I used the email address which I secured by Googling the internet. Unfortunately, he did not reply. Maybe he's not using it anymore.

The following is my message:

Dear Sir,

From the internet, I came across news reports about your $100 laptop for kids in third-world countries. It so happened I am working in an education project in Naga, a city of 150,000 in central Philippines.

Although our country is not included in the initial list we say, we are nonetheless very excited about the possibilities it hold. Currently, our limited resources have enabled us to provide a school-based computer lab of 10 Windows-run PCs for 28 public elementary schools with a combined enrolment of 24,000. But we have contacted US-based Naga residents, and we are confident they will be able to help us raise some funds. If only we can have a shot at these "21st-century pencils," as you call them.

I am not sure if this message will reach you, and I hope it will, so you can point the way.


Wilfredo Prilles, Jr.
Project Coordinator

Rizalist said...

Actually the people who are receiving "A-Level" boards are DEVELOPERS who are willing to create new software and firmware apps to enhance the capabilities and drive to a fully commercializable model. I doubt that they will ever be giving away millions of them. As I've said, we probably have to build them ourselves or pay for them.

Ironically there are already thousands of personal computers, pretty decent ones that you can buy for about P5000 pesos right now! They're all those second hand Pentium III machines being sold by resellers like HMR in Manila. Some are really great machines...old IBMs, Compaqs, HPs that were the shining sentinels of microcomputing in their day.

You can buy them right now at a warehouse a few klicks from where I live. Forget Negroponte. If you can afford $100 per machine, you can get all you can use. I bet most of this merchanidise can be kept running indefinitely.