Consistent with its policies of deregulation and privatization, and limiting government spending, the Macapagal-Arroyo administration has been reducing its budget for education leading to the deterioration of the educational system and the decreasing access of the poor to education. And yet it is wondering why more and more people, including college graduates are not able to get jobs?
BY BENJIE OLIVEROS
Vol. VII, No. 27, August 12-18, 2007
Recent reports indicated that the Philippines is losing its competitive edge in employment, its being one of the top English speaking countries in Southeast Asia. Another report stated that only a fraction of the demand for call center agents is being filled up as only three to five percent of college graduates are able to pass the requirements, mainly the ability to speak English with the proper accent such as “‘ap-el” and not “epol.” The Arroyo government’s response to this problem is to set-up training centers under the TESDA or the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
But the problem is deeper than the deterioration in the ability of the ordinary Filipino to speak English. And the problem is much worse than our inability to fill in the demand for call center agents. The problem is rooted in the continuing deterioration of the country’s educational system, which is made worse by the deregulation and privatization policies of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) came up with a very good paper issued last July 20, 2007 – which unfortunately has gone unnoticed by the Arroyo government and even the media – entitled “The Arroyo years: towards a lost decade for education?” The paper was issued through its secretary-general Ms. France Castro, a true-blooded public school teacher who rose from the ranks starting as a substitute teacher and now a Master Teacher 2.
ACT came up with indicators, based on data from the Department of Education (DepEd), to show that the Macapagal-Arroyo administration has failed miserably in its obligation to provide access to universal quality education. It stated that the Arroyo years have been characterized by declining enrollments, reduced completion rates, and dramatic increases in the number of drop-outs and out-of-school children.
ACT data showed a slowing down in the growth in enrollment in basic education. From a rate of 1.98 percent from 1995-2002, the growth in enrollment slowed down to an average of 0.97 percent. As it is, the 1.98 percent growth is already lagging behind the 2.3 percent population growth. The further slowing down in enrollment growth rates means that more and more children are not able to attend school.
And not only that, the drop-out rate is also increasing. In 2003, 66 out of 100 Grade 1 students graduate from elementary. In 2006, only 56 are able to complete elementary school. In 2001, 70 out of every 100 first year high school students complete their four years in high school. In 2006, this dropped to 54 out of every 100.
A result of the slowing down in enrollment rates and the worsening drop-out rates is the increase in the number of out-of-school children. In 2001, there were approximately 1.87 million out-of-school children with ages from 6-15 years old. In a matter of four years, in 2005, the number of out-of-school children has reached a staggering 3.1 million.
And the quality of education is still way below standard. Achievement rates of elementary and high school students in National Achievement Tests remain far below the passing rate of 75 percent.
The achievement rates for elementary students has slightly improved from school year (SY) 2000-2001 to SY 2005-2006 but are still far below the passing rate: 53.66 percent in Math, 46.77 in Science, 54.05 in English, 58.12 in Hekasi (Social Sciences), and 60.68 in Filipino.
The achievement rates for secondary students are worse and have even worsened during the same period. The current rates are 47.82 percent in Math, 37.98 in Science, 47.73 percent in English, 40.51 percent in Filipino, and 47.62 percent in Araling Panlipunan (Social Sciences).
It is then not surprising that the Philippines ranked 41st in Science and 42nd in Mathematics from among 45 countries by the Trends in International Math and Science Survey.