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Volume IV, Number 15 May 16 - 22, 2004 Quezon City, Philippines
elementary school diploma is not enough for those who intend to enroll in public
high schools. They still have to
hurdle another obstacle on May 24 – the High School Readiness Test.
DANILO ARAÑA ARAO
High School Readiness Test is scheduled on May 24. According to the Department
of Education (DepEd), its objective is to “enhance the capacity of public
school entrants to derive maximum benefits from the First Year curriculum.”
VI graduates who get low grades from this test will be made to go through a
Bridge Program in English, Science and Mathematics which will be implemented
starting schoolyear 2004-2005. In other words, they need to pass this program
first before entering First Year High School effective this school year.
According to its concept paper, the Bridge Program “addresses the learning gaps of high school entrants as evidenced by their low performance in National Diagnostic Tests. The results of these tests reveal the need for mastery of basic concepts and fundamental skills in English, Science and Mathematics.”
from Science and Mathematics, the administration’s priority is improving the
students’ command of the English language. If the administration is serious in
improving the communication processes within the country, wouldn’t it be
better to focus on the development of Filipino as the national language? Added
to this, studies conducted by the UP Integrated School have shown that mastery
of Filipino enhances the learning capacities of students in grasping and
mastering concepts and fundamental skills.
the past results of the National Diagnostic Tests, the inclusion of English in
the Bridge Program is directly related to the policy statements of President
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that English should be the primary medium of
DepEd claims that the planning for the Bridge Program took two years. However,
the DepEd Memorandum No. 147 which announced the implementation of the Bridge
Program was released only last March 18. In another memorandum (i.e., DepEd
Memorandum No. 165 dated April 2, 2004), the training for teachers and
facilitators under the Bridge Program was conducted last April 12-16 (for
Luzon-based teachers) and April 19-23 (for Visayas and Mindanao-based teachers).
preparation for teachers who are involved in the Bridge Program is too short.
Can five days of training provide the necessary knowledge in remedial classes
for the entire schoolyear? Even if the teachers already have experience in
teaching the three subjects, the remedial classes are still different in terms
of nature and orientation. Students who are under such classes are most likely
slow learners, thus the need for teachers to be creative in their approach and
methodology. A five-day training seminar cannot provide the standards for
teaching remedial classes.
lack in preparation is just one of the many issues against the Bridge Program.
There is also a need to analyze the rationale behind the Bridge Program.
problem in student competencies cannot be merely attributed to a lack in the
number of years in elementary education. It
is a result of factors ranging from inadequacies in teacher training to the
meager budget earmarked by government for education leading to gross shortages
in classrooms, books, and learning materials.
At best, the Bridge Program is a palliative measure, which does not
address the crisis in the public school system.
the parents of students under the Bridge Program, this is an additional expense.
Instead of sending their children to school for only four years, there will be
an additional one year. Given the high cost of living, public school education
is still expensive since the administration only shoulders the tuition of
students. The parents still have to provide for their children’s daily
allowance and other school-related needs.
what will happen to those who will be part of the Bridge Program and will still
fail the High School Readiness Test in the future? Inadequacies in learning the fundamentals being taught in six
years of elementary education cannot be covered by another year of remedial
classes. The Bridge Program will
benefit only those who are in the borderline.
But what will happen with the majority of students who fail to grasp and
master the basic concepts and fundamental skills?
the final analysis, one cannot help but think that this is a way for the DepEd
to lessen the number of students who will go to public high schools. Given the
dwindling budget for education, it is in the administration’s interest to
decrease the enrolment in order to save more.
may be recalled that in schoolyear 2001-2002, there were 4.5 million high school
students in public schools while those in private schools numbered 1.2 million.
the past, DepEd officials stressed that parents who do not want their children
to take the High School Readiness Test may just send them to private schools. Of
course, given the latter’s high cost of tuition and other expenses, this is
impractical for those belonging to poor families.
is also the issue of the re-enacted budget for the year 2004 and even DepEd
officials admit that “a re-enacted budget robs our people of much-needed
additional resources as far as Education is concerned.”
to the administration’s decision to merely reprise the 2003 appropriations for
this year, the DepEd lost P4 billion which is earmarked for, among others,
building 2,500 new classrooms, scholarship for 200,000 deserving students
enrolled in private schools, 10,000 new teacher items and 1,666 principal items.
Indeed, there is a reason for the High School Readiness Test on May 24 which explains the haphazard manner in which it was organized. Bulatlat.com