Education in the Philippines is provided by public and private schools, colleges, universities, and technical and vocational institutions. Funding for public education comes from the national government.
At the basic education level, the Department of Education (DepEd) sets overall educational standards and mandates standardized tests for the K–12 basic education system, although private schools are generally free to determine their own curriculum in accordance with existing laws and Department regulations.
On the other hand, at the higher education level, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) supervises and regulates colleges and universities, while the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for technical and vocational institutions regulates and accredits technical and vocational education programs and institutions.
For the academic year 2017–2018, about 83% of K–12 students attended public schools and about 17% either attended private schools or were home-schooled.
By law, education is compulsory for thirteen years (kindergarten and grades 1–12). These are grouped into three levels: elementary school (kindergarten–grade 6), junior high school (grades 7–10), and senior high school (grades 11–12); they may also be grouped into four key stages: 1st key stage (kindergarten–grade 3), 2nd key stage (grades 4–6), 3rd key stage (grades 7–10) and 4th key stage (grades 11–12). Children enter kindergarten at age 5.
Institutions of higher education may be classified as either public or private college or university, and public institutions of higher education may further be subdivided into two types: state universities and colleges and local colleges and universities.
During the pre-colonial period, most children were provided with solely vocational training, which was supervised by parents, tribal tutors or those assigned for specific, specialized roles within their communities (for example, the baybayin). In most communities, stories, songs, poetry, dances, medicinal practices and advice regarding all sorts of community life issues were passed from generation to generation mostly through oral tradition. Some communities utilised a writing system known as baybayin, whose use was wide and varied, though there are other syllabaries used throughout the archipelago.
Formal education was brought to the Philippines by the Spaniards, which was conducted mostly by religious orders. Upon learning the local languages and writing systems, they began teaching Christianity, the Spanish language, and Spanish culture. These religious orders opened the first schools and universities as early as the 16th century. Spanish missionaries established schools immediately after reaching the islands. The Augustinians opened a parochial school in Cebu in 1565. The Franciscans, took to the task of improving literacy in 1577, aside from the teaching of new industrial and agricultural techniques. The Jesuits followed in 1581, as well as the Dominicans in 1587, setting up a school in Bataan. The church and the school cooperated to ensure that Christian villages had schools for students to attend.
Schools for boys and for girls were then opened. Colegios were opened for boys, ostensibly the equivalent to present day senior high schools. The Universidad de San Ignacio, founded in Manila by the Jesuits in 1589 was the first colegio. Eventually, it was incorporated into the University of Santo Tomas, College of Medicine and Pharmacology following the suppression of the Jesuits. Girls had two types of schools – the beaterio, a school meant to prepare them for the convent, and another, meant to prepare them for secular womanhood.
The Educational Decree of 1863 provided a free public education system in the Philippines, managed by the government. The decree mandated the establishment of at least one primary school for boys and one for girls in each town under the responsibility of the municipal government, and the establishment of a normal school for male teachers under the supervision of the Jesuits. Primary education was also declared free and available to every Filipino, regardless of race or social class. Contrary to what the propaganda of the Spanish–American War tried to depict, they were not religious schools; rather, they are schools that were established, supported, and maintained by the Spanish government.
The defeat of Spain following the Spanish–American War led to the short-lived Philippine Independence movement, which established the insurgent First Philippine Republic. The schools maintained by Spain for more than three centuries were closed briefly, but were reopened on August 29, 1898 by the Secretary of Interior. The Burgos Institute (the country’s first law school), the Academia Militar (the country’s first military academy), and the Literary University of the Philippines were established. Article 23 of the Malolos Constitution mandated that public education would be free and obligatory in all schools of the nation under the First Philippine Republic. However, the Philippine–American War hindered its progress.
About a year after having secured Manila, the Americans were keen to open up seven schools with army servicemen teaching with army command-selected books and supplies. In the same year, 1899, more schools were opened, this time, with 24 English-language teachers and 4500 students.In that system, basic education consisted of 6 years elementary and 4 years secondary schooling which, until recently, prepared students for tertiary level instruction for them to earn a degree that would secure them a job later on in life.
A highly centralised, experimental public school system was installed in 1901 by the Philippine Commission and legislated by Act No. 74. The law exposed a severe shortage of qualified teachers, brought about by large enrollment numbers in schools. As a result, the Philippine Commission authorized the Secretary of Public Instruction to bring more than 1,000 teachers from the United States, who were called the Thomasites, to the Philippines between 1901 and 1902. These teachers were scattered throughout the islands to establish barangay schools. The same law established the Philippine Normal School (now the Philippine Normal University) to train aspiring Filipino teachers.
The high school system was supported by provincial governments and included special educational institutions, schools of arts and trades, an agricultural school, and commerce and marine institutes, which were established in 1902 by the Philippine Commission.
Several other laws were passed throughout the period. In 1902, Act No. 372 authorised the opening of provincial high schools.
1908 marked the year when Act No. 1870 initiated the opening of the University of the Philippines, now the country’s national university.
The emergence of high school education in the Philippines, however, did not occur until 1910. It was borne out of rising numbers in enrollment, widespread economic depression, and a growing demand by big businesses and technological advances in factories and the emergence of electrification for skilled workers. In order to meet this new job demand, high schools were created and the curriculum focused on practical job skills that would better prepare students for professional white collar or skilled blue collar work. This proved to be beneficial for both the employer and the employee; the investment in human capital caused employees to become more efficient, which lowered costs for the employer, and skilled employees received a higher wage than those employees with just primary educational attainment.
In 1947, after the United States relinquished all its authority over the Philippines, President Manuel Roxas issued Executive Order No. 94 which renamed Department of Instruction into Department of Education. During this period, the regulation and supervision of public and private schools belonged to the Bureau of Public and Private Schools.
In 1972, the Department of Education became the Department of Education and Culture (DECS) under Proclamation 1081, which was signed by President Ferdinand Marcos.
On September 24, 1972, by Presidential Decree No. 1, DECS was decentralized with decision-making shared among its thirteen regional offices.
Following a referendum of all barangays in the Philippines from January 10–15, 1973, President Marcos ratified the 1973 Constitution by Proclamation 1102 on January 17, 1973. The 1973 Constitution set out the three fundamental aims of education in the Philippines:
to foster love of country;
to teach the duties of citizenship; and
to develop moral character, self-discipline, and scientific, technological and vocational efficiency.
In 1978, by the Presidential Decree No. 1397, DECS became the Ministry of Education and Culture.
The Education Act of 1982 provided for an integrated system of education covering both formal and non-formal education at all levels. Section 29 of the act sought to upgrade educational institutions’ standards to achieve “quality education” through voluntary accreditation for schools, colleges, and universities. Section 16 and Section 17 upgraded the obligations and qualifications required for teachers and administrators. Section 41 provided for government financial assistance to private schools. This act also created the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports.
A new constitution was ratified on February 2, 1987, and entered into force of February 11. Section 3, Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution contains the ten fundamental aims of education in the Philippines. Section 2(2), Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution made elementary school compulsory for all children.
In 1987, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports became again the DECS under Executive Order No. 117. The structure of DECS as embodied in the order remained practically unchanged until 1994.
On May 26, 1988, the Congress of the Philippines enacted the Republic Act 6655 or the Free Public Secondary Education Act of 1988, which mandated free public secondary education commencing in the school year 1988–1989.
On February 3, 1992, the Congress enacted Republic Act 7323, which provided that students aged 15 to 25 may be employed during their Christmas vacation and summer vacation with a salary not lower than the minimum wage—with 60% of the wage paid by the employer and 40% by the government.
The Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM) report of 1991 recommended the division of DECS into three parts. On May 18, 1994, the Congress passed Republic Act 7722 or the Higher Education Act of 1994, creating the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), which assumed the functions of the Bureau of Higher Education and supervised tertiary degree programs. On August 25, 1994, the Congress passed Republic Act 7796 or the Technical Education and Skills Development Act of 199, creating the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), which absorbed the Bureau of Technical-Vocational Education as well as the National Manpower and Youth Council, and began to supervise non-degree technical-vocational programs. DECS retained responsibility for all elementary and secondary education. This threefold division became known as the “trifocal system of education” in the Philippines.
In August 2001, Republic Act 9155, otherwise called the Governance of Basic Education Act, was passed. This act changed the name of DECS to the current Department of Education (DepEd) and redefined the role of field offices (regional offices, division offices, district offices and schools). The act provided the overall framework for school empowerment by strengthening the leadership roles of headmasters and fostering transparency and local accountability for school administrations. The goal of basic education was to provide the school age population and young adults with skills, knowledge, and values to become caring, self-reliant, productive, and patriotic citizens.
In 2005, the Philippines spent about US$138 per pupil, compared to US$3,728 in Japan, US$1,582 in Singapore and US$852 in Thailand.
In 2006, the Education for All (EFA) 2015 National Action Plan was implemented. It states:
“ The central goal is to provide basic competencies to everyone, and to achieve functional literacy for all. Ensuring that every Filipino has the basic competencies is equivalent to providing all Filipinos with the basic learning needs, or enabling all Filipinos to be functionally literate. ”
In terms of secondary level education, all children aged twelve to fifteen, are sought to be on track to completing the schooling cycle with satisfactory achievement levels at every year.
In January 2009, the Department of Education signed a memorandum of agreement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to seal $86 million assistance to Philippine education, particularly the access to quality education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and the Western and Central Mindanao regions.
In 2010, then-Senator Benigno Aquino III expressed his desire to implement the K–12 basic education cycle to increase the number of years of compulsory education to thirteen years. According to him, this will “give everyone an equal chance to succeed” and “have quality education and profitable jobs”. After further consultations and studies, the government under President Aquino formally adopted the K–6–4–2 basic education system—one year of kindergarten, six years of elementary education, four years of junior high school education and two years of senior high school education. Kindergarten was formally made compulsory by virtue of the Kindergarten Education Act of 2012, while the further twelve years were officially put into law by virtue of the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013. Although DepEd has already implemented the K–12 Program since SY 2011–2012, it was still enacted into law to guarantee its continuity in the succeeding years.
The former system of basic education in the Philippines consists of one-year preschool education, six-year elementary education and four-year high school education. Although public preschool, elementary and high school education are provided free, only primary education is stipulated as compulsory according to the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Pre-primary education caters to children aged five. A child aged six may enter elementary schools with, or without pre-primary education. Following on from primary education is four-years of secondary education, which can theoretically be further divided into three years of lower secondary and one year of upper secondary education. Ideally, a child enters secondary education at the age of 12. After completing their secondary education, students may progress to a technical education and skills development to earn a certificate or a diploma within one to three years, depending on the skill. Students also have the option to enrol in higher education programmes to earn a baccalaureate degree.
|Former educational system
(used from 1945 until June 5, 2011)
|Kindergarten was not compulsory|
|Elementary school (Primary)||Grade 1||Primary||6–7|
|High school (Secondary)||First Year||Freshman||12–13|
The start of the twenty-first century’s second decade saw a major change in the Philippine education system. Whether this was positive or not remains to be seen.
In 2011, the Department of Education started to implement the new K-12 educational system, which also included a new curriculum for all schools nationwide. The K-12 program has a so-called “phased implementation”, which started in S.Y 2011-2012.
In 2017, a law was promulgated mandating the government through all state universities and colleges (SUCs) to provide free tertiary education for all Filipino citizens. The mandate does not include private schools.
|School year||Kindergarten||Elementary||High school|
When it comes to influence, the educational system of the Philippines has been affected immensely by the country’s colonial history including the Spanish period, American period, and Japanese rule and occupation. Although having been significantly influenced by all its colonizers with regard to the educational system, the most influential and deep-rooted contributions arose during the American occupation (1898); it was during this aforementioned period that:
English was introduced as the primary language of instruction and
A public education system was first established – a system specifically patterned after the United States school system and further administered by the newly established Department of Instruction.
Similar to the United States, the Philippines has had an extensive and extremely inclusive system of education including features such as higher education.
The present Philippine educational system firstly covers six years of compulsory education (from grades 1 to 6), divided informally into two levels – both composed of three years. The first level is known as the Primary level and the second level is known as the Intermediate level.
However, although the Philippine educational system has extensively been a model for other Southeast Asian countries, in recent years such a matter has no longer stood true, and such a system has been deteriorated – such a fact is especially evident and true in the country’s more secluded poverty-stricken regions.
Most of the Philippines faces several issues when it comes to the educational system.
First of which, is the quality of education. In the year 2014, the National Achievement Test (NAT) and the National Career Assessment Examination (NCAE) results show that there had been a decline in the quality of Philippine education at the elementary and secondary levels. The students’ performance in both the 2014 NAT and NCAE were excessively below the target mean score. Having said this, the poor quality of the Philippine educational system is manifested in the comparison of completion rates between highly urbanized cities of Metro Manila, which is also happens to be not only the country’s capital region but the largest metropolitan area in the Philippines and other places in the country such as Mindanao and Eastern Visayas. Although Manila is able to boast a primary school completion rate of approximately 100 percent, other areas of the nation, such as Eastern Visayas and Mindanao, hold primary school completion rate of only 30 percent or even less. This kind of statistic is no surprise to the education system in the Philippine context, students who hail from Philippine urban areas have the financial capacity to complete at the very least their primary school education.
The second issue that the Philippine educational system faces is the budget for education. Although it has been mandated by the Philippine Constitution for the government to allocate the highest proportion of its government to education, the Philippines remains to have one of the lowest budget allocations to education among ASEAN countries.
The third prevalent issue the Philippine educational system continuously encounters is the affordability of education (or lack thereof). A big disparity in educational achievements is evident across various social groups. Socioeconomically disadvantaged students otherwise known as students who are members of high and low-income poverty-stricken families, have immensely higher drop-out rates in the elementary level. Additionally, most freshmen students at the tertiary level come from relatively well-off families. [Source needed]
Drop-out rate (Out-of-school youth)
France Castro, the secretary of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), stated that there is a grave need to address the alarming number of out-of-school youth in the country. The Philippines overall has 1.4 million children who are out-of-school, according to UNESCO’s data, and is additionally the only ASEAN country that is included in the top 5 countries with the highest number of out-of-school youth. In 2012, the Department of Education showed data of a 6.38% drop-out rate in primary school and a 7.82% drop-out rate in secondary school. Castro further stated that “the increasing number of out-of-school children is being caused by poverty. The increases in the price of oil, electricity, rice, water, and other basic commodities are further pushing the poor into dire poverty.” Subsequently, as more families become poorer, the number of students enrolled in public schools increases, especially in the high school level. In 2013, the Department of Education estimated that there are 38, 503 elementary schools alongside 7,470 high schools.
There is a large mismatch between educational training and actual jobs. This stands to be a major issue at the tertiary level and it is furthermore the cause of the continuation of a substantial amount of educated yet unemployed or underemployed people. According to Dean Salvador Belaro Jr., the Cornell-educated Congressman representing 1-Ang Edukasyon Party-list in the House of Representatives, the number of educated unemployed reaches around 600,000 per year. He refers to said condition as the “education gap”.
Brain drain is a persistent problem evident in the educational system of the Philippines due to the modern phenomenon of globalization, with the number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who worked abroad at any time during the period April to September 2014 was estimated at 2.3 million. This ongoing mass immigration subsequently induces an unparalleled brain drain alongside grave economic implications. Additionally, Philippine society hitherto is footing the bill for the education of millions who successively spend their more productive years abroad. Thus, the already poor educational system of the Philippines indirectly subsidizes the opulent economies who host the OFWs.
There exists a problematic and distinct social cleavage with regard to educational opportunities in the country. Most modern societies have encountered an equalizing effect on the subject of education. This aforementioned divide in the social system has made education become part of the institutional mechanism that creates a division between the poor and the rich.
Lack of facilities and teacher shortage in public schools
There are large-scale shortages of facilities across Philippine public schools – these include classrooms, teachers, desks and chairs, textbooks, and audio-video materials. According to 2003 Department of Education Undersecretary Juan Miguel Luz, reportedly over 17 million students are enrolled in Philippine public schools, and at an annual population growth rate of 2.3 per cent, about 1.7 million babies are born every year which means that in a few years time, more individuals will assert ownership over their share of the (limited) educational provisions. To sum it up, there are too many students and too little resources. Albeit the claims the government makes on increasing the allocated budget for education, there is a prevalent difficulty the public school system faces with regard to shortages. Furthermore, state universities and colleges gradually raise tuition so as to have a means of purchasing facilities, thus making tertiary education difficult to access or more often than not, inaccessible to the poor. However, it is worth taking note of what the Aquino administration has done in its five years of governance with regard to classroom-building – the number of classrooms built from 2005 to the first half of the year 2010 has tripled. Additionally, the number of classrooms that were put up from the year 2010 to February 2015 was recorded to be at 86,478, significantly exceeding the 17,305 classrooms that were built from 2005 to 2010 and adequate enough to counterbalance the 66,800 classroom deficit in the year 2010.
In President Aquino’s fourth state of the nation address (SONA), he spoke of the government’s achievement of zero backlog in facilities such as classrooms, desks and chairs, and textbooks which has addressed the gap in the shortages of teachers, what with 56,085 new teachers for the 61, 510 teaching items in the year 2013. However, the data gathered by the Department of Education shows that during the opening of classes (June 2013), the shortages in classrooms was pegged at 19, 579, 60 million shortages when it came to textbooks, 2.5 million shortages with regard to chairs, and 80, 937 shortages of water and sanitation facilities. Furthermore, 770 schools in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao were considered overcrowded. The Department of Education also released data stating that 91% of the 61, 510 shortages in teachers was filled up alongside appointments (5, 425 to be specific) are being processed.
Issues regarding the K-12
There is a dispute with regard to the quality of education provided by the system. In the year 2014, the National Achievement Test (NAT) and the National Career Assessment Examination (NCAE) results show that there had been a decline in the quality of Philippine education at the elementary and secondary levels. The students’ performance in both the 2014 NAT and NCAE were excessively below the target mean score. Having said this, the poor quality of the Philippine educational system is manifested in the comparison of completion rates between highly urbanized city of Metro Manila, which is also happens to be not only the country’s capital but the largest metropolitan area in the Philippines and other places in the country such as Mindanao and Eastern Visayas. Although Manila is able to boast a primary school completion rate of approximately 100 percent, other areas of the nation, such as Eastern Visayas and Mindanao, hold primary school completion rate of only 30 percent or even less. This kind of statistic is no surprise to the education system in the Philippine context, students who hail from Philippine urban areas have the financial capacity to complete at the very least their primary school education.
The second issue that the Philippine educational system faces is the budget for education. Although it has been mandated by the Philippine Constitution for the government to allocate the highest proportion of its government to education, the Philippines remains to have one of the lowest budget allocations to education among ASEAN countries. The third prevalent issue the Philippine educational system continuously encounters is the affordability of education (or lack thereof). A big disparity in educational achievements is evident across various social groups. Socioeconomically disadvantaged students otherwise known as students who are members of high and low-income poverty-stricken families have immensely higher drop-out rates in the elementary level. Additionally, most freshmen students at the tertiary level come from relatively well-off families. Lastly, there is a large proportion of mismatch, wherein there exists a massive proportion of mismatch between training and actual jobs. This stands to be a major issue at the tertiary level and it is furthermore the cause of the continuation of a substantial amount of educated yet unemployed or underemployed people.
The third issue involves the timing for requiring Grades 11 and 12. According to Sec. 4 of Republic Act No. 10533, “The enhanced basic education program encompasses at least one (1) year of kindergarten education, six (6) years of elementary education, and six (6) years of secondary education, in that sequence. Secondary education includes four (4) years of junior high school and two (2) years of senior high school education.” However, according to Sec. 4 of Republic Act No. 10157, “Kindergarten education is hereby institutionalized as part of basic education and for school year 2011-2012 shall be implemented partially, and thereafter, it shall be made mandatory and compulsory for entrance to Grade 1.” That means in order to follow the enhanced basic education program, students must take kindergarten before taking six years of elementary education, followed by six years of secondary education, which includes Grades 11 and 12. But since kindergarten became mandatory and implemented fully only in SY 2012-2013, then Grade 11 can only be required in SY 2023-2024.
Source from Wikipedia