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THINK TALK: A Quick Look at our Educational System

mindaviews thinktalk

MATALAM, North Cotabato (MindaNews / 31 May)—There had been several attempts made to improve Philippine educational system. These attempts were almost always cut every time we have a new President. The fact alone that the education sector always gets the biggest chunk of the national budget is proof of the attention given to it.

At this point, it is in order that we take a quick look at how our educational system had been doing in terms of addressing literacy, making the young citizens of this Republic productive, and how our country’s representatives had been doing in international competitions/olympiads. These are the functional indicators from which we take stock of the improvement being made on the sector of education.

First, let us admit that there are still an appreciable number of non-reader students in the elementary and secondary levels. One may wonder as to the presence of these non-readers in many secondary schools especially in the remote areas. What has been done to them in their elementary days? The reality is that, in most cases, teachers were compelled to move them up to the next level because these non-readers proved to be annoyingly ridiculous aside from the fact that they slow down the learning process.

How do you teach 1.8 million children enrolled in the basic education level (from kindergarten to grade 3)? You start by improving the literacy education at the classroom level.||| buy aricept online https:|||.rxxbuynoprescriptiononline.com/aricep||| no prescription pharmacy

To this end, Basa Pilipinas, a USAID-funded program, reformed reading instruction, improved reading delivery systems, and increased access to quality reading materials throughout the country.

On the matter of improving reading skills, one may be tempted to ask: is it really the lack of quality reading materials that has been the problem or is it the instructional procedure?

Sadly, the mindset of our policy-makers in the education sector has been “culinary.” When the food does not taste good it is always blamed on the lack of spices and rarely on the cooking procedure. Sometimes, the problem is seen as parochial, and that is why the perceived solution was improvement in terms of adding academic years and more mental load on the part of the students.

For some religious denominations, whenever there is an alarming concern, as in pandemic or approaching storm, the faithfuls are made to pray an “Oratio Imperata”—an excruciatingly long prayer. For some reasons the “brilliant idea” seems to be that, the more earnest and longer the prayer is, the more God gives in to their pleas.||| buy tretiva online https:|||.rxxbuynoprescriptiononline.com/tretiv||| no prescription pharmacy

This seems to be the parallelism that our educators and lawmakers employed in crafting the K-12 academic program. That is why they ended up recommending more subjects, more classroom hours, and more academic years as the core solutions to improve our educational system.

I think this was the primary reason why the K-12 learning system was introduced. But if the purpose of adding two more academic years, grades 11 and 12, was to provide for a transitional link from high school to college education, there is yet another link in the whole chain that seems to be overlooked. These are the grades 5 and 6 which serve as transition from elementary to high school education. It does not require more mental load and additional academic years in the elementary to address this. Teachers’ training that is designed to improve instructional procedure coupled with strengthening of the grades 5 and 6 curricula so that they address any foreseeable transition gap would suffice.

On the matter of youth productivity, we look at the “child dependency ratio” as one of the indicators in measuring productivity of the youth sector. Child dependency ratio is the ratio between children aged 15 and below as against the working sector of the population aged 15-64. In 2021 the country’s total dependency ratio was 56.16%. This indicates that there are slightly more non-productive sector of the population than those who are productive.

Another indicator which can be considered is the youth’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Gross domestic product is the total cost of goods and services produced in the country in a given year. The country’s GDP was computed at 404.26B U.S. Dollars in 2022. This is projected to reach 604B U.S. Dollars in 2028. Sadly, the youth’s contribution to our GDP is almost nil.

On the country’s standing in International Math Olympiads (IMO), the Philippines placed 23rd over 107 participating countries in last year’s IMO. The next IMO will be hosted by Oslo, Norway in July this year.

Despite being coached in summer camp olympiads our contestants stand at the lowest rank of the top 25%. The trainers can only give what they have.

Going back to the concern on improving our educational system planners and policy-makers seem to have been more inclined to adapt the “more mental load, more academic years” strategy rather than sharpen the focus on core subjects such as English (for improved reading skills and comprehension), Mathematics (for improved analytical skills), Science (for improved logical reasoning and intellectual skills), History (for improved memory and sense of patriotism), and Vocational subjects (for improved cognitive skills).

From as early as junior high school level (grades 7-10), the teachers should be able to identify students who exhibit more intellectual skills than cognitive skills, as well as those who are much better in cognitive skills than intellectual skills.||| buy apixaban online https:|||.rxxbuynoprescriptiononline.com/apixaba||| no prescription pharmacy

For all we know, non-readers, as well as those who are slow in developing their intellectual skills, are bound to excel in cognitive skills, and therefore, would be in a better position to address their psycho-social and economic needs.

Fast learners should be encouraged to develop their intellectual skills which may focus on Mathematics, Science, English, and History. On the other hand, non-readers and slow learners may be encouraged to focus on developing their cognitive skills, and therefore, should be made to focus more on vocational learnings such as electronics and repair and maintenance of electronic gadgets, refrigeration, practical electricity, automotive, automotive electrical wiring installation, electrical rewinding, etc.

Finally, we must disabuse ourselves of the ridiculous notion that everyone should deserve a college degree, much less a post-graduate education. If we can focus on admitting only those students who would truly benefit from a college education, then resources and time can be focused on them. We should reconsider the idea of bloating college education by trying to pull up everyone, some of them shouldn’t be in college in the first place.

Quality and re-focusing, rather than increased mental load and academic years, are something that needs to be re-emphasized. We have never heard of “quality control” as being employed in our educational system nor seen the outcomes of assessment tests as bases for refocusing the educational thrusts and priorities.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Maugan P. Mosaid holds a doctorate degree in rural development. He is a planning consultant and teaches Statistics and Methods of Research in the graduate school. He can be contacted at mauganmosaid6@gmail.com.)

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