English and Philippine Education: The Good and the Bad

Education is highly crucial in making a student of any age and level more globally competitive, just like professional skills training to an employee of any rank and designation. Being well-educated and well-skilled at the same time is what the world demands for an ideal workforce, and for survival.

The quality of education in the Philippines has deteriorated over time due to lack of resources vis a vis the continuously growing number of enrolled young individuals — an ongoing challenge to the nation despite its economic progress, the increase in foreign investments, and considering today’s business practices and lifestyles heavily influenced by modern technology.

It has experienced a slump between 2010 and 2011 unlike other Asian countries, according to the WEF Global Competitiveness Report covering the years 2009 to 2013. Included in the report are figures that translate to the national government spending a very low percentage of the GDP on education, making the Philippines second to the lowest in education expenditure since 1998. In terms of GDP spending per pupil from 2008 to 2011, as evaluated by UNESCO, the Philippines’ percentages per level are consistently low compared to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Therefore, the after-effects of Filipinos being deprived of strong education reforms are insufficient number of classrooms and teaching materials, higher pupil-teacher ratio, and the worst of all, inadequate opportunities for further training leading to incompetency of some teachers and graduates in skills such as communicating effectively in English – the universal language.

Two of the 12 recommendations in relation to strengthening English fluency among Filipinos enumerated by Arangkada Philippines, an advocacy paper focused on promoting speedy solutions to economic growth and development, as a necessity in school and in business are: To advance bilingualism, undertake a vigorous public campaign to emphasize the importance of English competency to entering and existing workforce members. (Immediate action OP, DepEd, NEDA, and private sector) Recognize high schools and tertiary schools and students who score well on English tests. (Immediate action DepEd and private sector) Moreover, humanitarian organizations such as the USAID Philippines and Phil-Dutch Educational Scholarship, Inc. aim to improve English teaching methods, administer English language proficiency training in higher education, and aid the underprivileged in being more equipped and confident to work in English-speaking companies.

The new K to 12 curriculum promises revised subjects for the first ten years and the last two years as added preparation time to polish their ability to communicate in time for college. All incoming college freshmen will also be required to pass the College Readiness Standards (CRS) by preparing two well-structured research papers (one in English, one in Filipino). However, these will only take effect in 2018. For now, students and teachers dealing with budget constraints can take advantage of complimentary English training programs as the initial step towards personal development.

Students will be able to familiarize themselves with tried-and-tested tips and techniques in oral and written communication created by native English speakers. Teachers, on the other hand, are to be given the chance to enhance their knowledge and literacy in the English language in order to contribute to the much deserved change in the national education sector, or if they choose to teach in countries where Filipino teachers are being seriously considered, such as Vietnam and the United States.

(5) Comments

  • Ma. Jelyn Gayo August 13, 2014 @ 4:13 pm

    One thing that I noticed about this article is that, it missed to mention the main cause or factor that made the quality of education in the Philippines deteriorates overtime. The most common reason is due to the rampant and continues corruption on the Philippine government and its officials. Some may say that it is up to the person himself that needs to work hard in order to educate himself. In some cases, I agree. But, I’m sure that it will be one in a million that somebody may stand and prove that quality education in the Philippines is still achievable while your family belongs to the average earner and your family don’t have a great connection to those who seat all day and busy thinking on how to steal more money from the people without being caught. Philippine government allocates millions or billions I suppose in total budget for education. But it saddens and pisses me off every time I hear or see some schools without classrooms or even books. With this situation, how are we able to advance or improved the quality education we are looking for abroad and able to compete with other expatriates? We Filipinos need to shake the government real hard and help each others as if we are doing it for our own.

  • Herschelle Marquez August 15, 2014 @ 6:01 pm

    There are government initiatives to uplift or cope with our neighboring countries. There is the K-12 program that aligns with the education system of most countries in the world. Prosperous countries like Canada and Australia use this education system.
    Low expenditure for education in our country is very alarming. It gives me a notion that our government is not giving what is due for our younger generation comparing to our neighboring countries.
    But the real scenario of our country is that Philippines is now on its metamorphosis. Our leaders are making actions to pave the way for our better future. Statistics can prove that.

  • Jerl S. Rey August 18, 2014 @ 9:48 am

    One thing that I don’t like in matters of education is our educational system. It is not structured and not matched to the needs of industries relative to the increase labor forces and decrease the unemployment. Our educational system need to upgrade too. We have a lot of skilled workers that were being upgraded outside the country due to lack of enhancement for their needed competencies to do the job and superior performance. Once, I asked my boss, why is it hard to look for metallurgical engineers. this course is very rare and seldom to offer in most of the universities and state colleges. Yet, this kind of engineer is included in the “Highest Paid Job” article of Yahoo.com. In my own opinion, in order to increase the percentage of employment, English proficiency must mastered and updated too for all students and professional teachers in order to learn new techniques on how to easily facilitate and learn how to speak English, Second, align all the curriculum to the industries needed for every students after they academic life in order to have immediate employment. I believe that all companies have their initiatives such as to acquire a student immediately after graduation that is to say, Scholarships. Most of the state universities and private universities have their own “Eskolar ng Bayan”. Why not, these “Eskolar ng Bayan” be endorsement to the industries related to their course and field of interest? At the end of the day, employment in our country is as easy as self-serving and sustainable system. Through English Proficiency, even without a bachelor degree, can help increase employment also specially in call centers. When we read our news papers specially in classified ads, most of the vacancies are from call centers and their minimum requirements included is English proficient. Most of these Call centers, conduct English proficiency as supplemental needs for their functional competencies. Communication skills is as important for these kind of industry.

  • Jerl S. Rey September 2, 2014 @ 3:46 pm

    I just arrived from Bicol and I heard that my niece complained about her teacher teaching them English language using bicol dialect. I asked her my sister if it is true. And my sister replied, it was mandated by CHED for the purpose of learning EASILY the English language. Now, I wonder. Why was our college professor taught us Latin Language using the Spanish medium and yet we learned many vocabularies.

  • maria carmen s. muralla April 9, 2015 @ 11:26 am

    It is true that many of us, Filipinos, are below the standard proficiency in English. Moreover, it is admissible that the educational system may not be addressing all the needs of the learners. The issue of corruption in the government is not new as well. In this life, there will always be negative sides for everything. But how do we face these realities? I suggest that every one of us start making differences on our very own levels. If we happen to be parents, let us help our children learn how to read, write and compute at home. Let us try our best to expose them to different reading materials. Children who were exposed to reading materials ( and family members who read), tend to become more proficient and active in school as compared to those who never had the opportunity. Let us be models of individuals who value self-reliance over endless blaming. Before we attempt pointing fingers, let us examine how far have we gone trying to help this poor country. The basic thing to do is to develop positive attitude. Begin it with ourselves then to our children and to our community peers. Having the strong belief that there is still hope, we could readily start thinking afresh , provide creative insights, start small but helpful steps to make this country a better nation. The next important step is to unlearn the habit of blaming others. Let us start becoming a helper, not a fault finder. As was a line in a song, “bloom where you grow”. Make the most of sharing, be a blessing to everyone. This country needs more angels, it may start with you today.

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