Philippine Normal University, trying to make do with so little

The Philippine Normal University is supposedly another option. But more than this, the state of PNU would definitely impact on the state of basic education in the country. An overwhelming majority of teachers, especially in the public school system are trained at PNU, and the quality of graduates it produces would reflect on the state of the country’s public school system. While the PNU gasps for dear life, so would the whole public school system.


MANILA – The Philippine Normal University (PNU) is the country’s National Center for Teacher Education – read the PNU’s website. It is where majority of teachers in the country are trained.

The PNU was designated as National Center for Teacher Education or NCTE but for students of PNU it’s worthless because of budget cuts.(Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil /

However, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) allocated only 37. 7 percent or P284.9 million ($6 million) of the university’s proposed budget of P754.9 million ($17 million). This happened despite the President’s 2012 budget message where he claimed that “investing in education – from pre-school to tertiary – remains one of the government’s central strategies to combat poverty and build national competitiveness.” The total approved budget of P284.9 million will be shared by five PNU campuses nationwide.

The PNU is among the five state universities and colleges with the biggest budget cut, Donnadette Belza, third year student of AB/BSE Major in Literature and editor-in-chief of The Torch, PNU’s official publication, said.

“Our university is designated as the National Center for Teacher Education (NCTE), but there is still no change. What’s worse is that the administration is now implementing austerity measures,” said Belza.

Austerity measures

According to the Torch, merging of classes started in June. It is a research-based experiment of the Board of Regents (BOR) where two or more classes are merged into one session. Only professors with masteral or doctoral degrees could teach the merged classes.

Donnadette Belza third year student of AB/BSE Major in Literature and editor-in-chief of The Torch, PNU’s official publication. “Merging of classes is a direct effect of the reduction in the 2011 budget.”(Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil /

Belza said the merging of classes is a direct effect of the reduction in the 2011 budget. For the year 2011, PNU’s budget was reduced by P91 million ($2.1 million) or 23.95 percent compared to the previous year.

The students were not consulted before the merging of classes was implemented, Belza said.

Two to four classes are merged into one session. Belza said there are at least 45 students in one class; if two classes are merged, the class size would be 90. If four classes are merged, a total of 180 students are put together into one session. Belza said they are having classes in the auditorium to accommodate the almost 200 students.

Many students are against the program. John Clifford Sibayan, vice president for internal affairs of PNU Student Government said they conducted a survey regarding the program. “Of the 200 student-respondents coming from different year levels and colleges, 163 are against the merging of classes while only 37 students are in favour of the program,” Sibayan told

It is also a way of saving on salaries, said Belza, since the classes are merged, lesser professors are needed.

At PNU two to four classes are merged into one session.(Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil /

There is a joke among students that the merging of classes is part of their training. “We are encouraged to teach in public schools and since public schools are overcrowded, they are now conditioning us to that kind of situation,” Belza said.

“It is difficult to be in a merged class. It’s hot, noisy, and the chairs are not enough. We could not hear the lessons anymore especially when the professor has a soft voice,” said Belza. She added that after the budget had been cut, all air condition units in classrooms have been removed.

“I just wonder what kind of education they want to gives us. They (school administration) are bragging about the PNU being the NCTE but look at what kind of education we are getting,” said Sibayan.

JC Sibayan vow to continue teaching in public schools to help improve the impoverish education system. (Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil /

Faculty Regent Maria Lourdes Santiago-Agustin said the administration should provide bigger classrooms to accommodate bigger class sizes, overhead projectors, microphones and other academic technologies for those departments that agreed to have merged classes.

But, Sibayan said, so far the professors are not yet using any device to help improve their teaching to almost a hundred students. He also added that major subjects are also now merged. Merging of classes is also implemented in other capmpuses in the PNU system, according to Sibayan.

Inconsistencies in fees

There are also inconsistencies in fees. For instance, the athletics fee is P100 ($2.31) but some students paid P175 ($4), said Belza.

In one instance, two students, both second year, belonging to the same section, and having the same units and subjects were made to pay a laboratory fee and computer laboratory fee, which were bundled under the miscellaneous fees. The rest of the section did not pay for those fees.

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