02 May2012

I asked this question of Marketmanila.com readers:

“In 2004, a National Diagnostic Test for Grade 6 Public School students was given in English, Math and Science. What percentage of those students scored 50% or more (got at least half of the questions right) on that test??”


It is amazing how far perception or opinion differs from fact with respect to the academic capabilities of our public school students. Only 13% of all marketmanila.com readers got the answer correct, meaning, they are painfully aware just how appalling the state of public education is in the Philippines. The remaining 87% of readers were wishfully, hopefully, positively thinking that many more students managed to score at least 50% on those standardized nationally administered tests. In my day, getting a grade below 75 meant I had LITERALLY FAILED that class, it was a red mark, and a risk of not moving up a grade at the end of the year. In public schools, the standards aren’t only lower, they are apparently in the third basement.


I found these statistics on the website of Mike Luz — an acquaintance, friend and once co-Trustee of a school I was helping. See more details here, including how the Philippines placed 41st out of 45 countries which were given standardized tests in math and science. Grim.

It’s harder to find data on private school students, but at least I figured out that some 30% of high school students in the Philippines are enrolled in private schools. However, I can’t readily find figures on how much better (I hope) students in private schools are scoring on their standardized tests. Isn’t it amazing that it’s rather difficult to find any source that publishes the results of the National Achievement Tests given to public and private school students in 2010 and 2011? Isn’t it in the PUBLIC INTEREST TO PUBLISH THOSE RESULTS AS SOON AS THEY ARE SCORED? If you know of a source of these results, please leave me a comment, thanks.

And while I am on the topic of education, don’t think Pinoys abroad are necessarily much better off. If you haven’t already read this news report that is more than a year old, or the underlying report that sparked it, you probably should.

With the title for the article “Why are young Fil-Ams doing poorly in school?” and quotes like:

“A 2006 Seattle School District study also found that in the 10th grade WASL test, 73% of Filipino American students failed the science component and 55% failed the math component.”

The underlying study “reported that Filipino students focused their energies more on working so as to be able to buy expensive clothes and cars. Also, they were much more into dancing and singing than studying and earning academic awards.”

…you really have to wonder what has happened to our traditionally held view that education was generally extremely important and desirable???



  1. atbnorway says:

    I am lost for words… tsk, tsk.

    May 2, 2012 | 6:43 am


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  3. Betchay says:

    Shocking and I am very sad :(

    May 2, 2012 | 7:07 am

  4. Nadia says:

    I am a Biology teacher from Region 7 and know first-hand how bad the educational system is. But we cannot simply blame the teacher, the school, DepEd or the government per se for all the problems our schoolchildren are experiencing. The problems are systemic and are closely tied to corruption, poverty, overpopulation and all other problems that come with a developing country. Even behavior can be a cause for failure…I have students who got the golden opportunity of getting a college degree (thanks to funding from their OFW relatives) but who could care less about submitting homework, going to class or even passing for that matter.

    For our students to improve, everyone in society has to do their part…the government, the teachers, administrators, the parents, family members and even the students themselves. We have to go back to that time when education was considered such a rare opportunity or gift…not to be wasted. Where curiosity, critical thinking and achievement are nurtured not stifled. Where ‘good enough’ is not the standard.

    May 2, 2012 | 8:05 am

  5. Mimi says:

    My in-laws are mostly teachers or retired teachers in the public school system there. Complaints I hear are that there are just soooo many in one class (over a hundred I think) that they cannot keep track of everybody! They mostly know the really good students and the worse or misbehaving ones. Also, they have to provide for school materials from their own pockets, considering their own salaries are sometimes delayed.

    I think the Philippine public education system should consider segregating students to identify those with potential, yet still providing technical knowledge to those not-so academic. Offer foundation subjects in english, math, science and filipino for everybody, then higher learning to the achievers. Integrate more skills-based learning like woodworks, culinary arts, gardening, etcetera to give students a possible source of income as they learn.

    Kids nowadays know that the ‘rich’ people with celebrity status are mostly drop-outs! So the value of having a good education is not re-enforced, unlike in the past where graduating from university is the goal.

    May 2, 2012 | 8:58 am

  6. Mimi says:

    I just read a local news that the DepEd is thinking of assigning permanent student numbers to all public and private students for easier records access. I say just use their birth certificate registry number! This way no new expenses will be expected and the identification number is already personalized.

    May 2, 2012 | 10:14 am

  7. Connie C says:

    Alas, we have lost a lot of our teachers to the brain drain staffing both private and public schools in the US and all over the world. On a recent visit to Mozambique, I met several Filipino teachers of a private school in Maputo. One of them was the headmaster and designed the school’s curriculum.

    Teachers cannot be blamed for seeking better opportunities abroad with the kind of salary they make in the homeland. It is a crying shame that some teachers have to peddle stuff at school to supplement their income. If we do not value our teachers enough to keep them, then is it a surprise the educational system and the students suffer? The homeland’s loss is another country’s gain.

    May 2, 2012 | 10:40 am

  8. bluegirl says:

    Nadia’s comment – “For our students to improve, everyone in society has to do their part…the government, the teachers, administrators, the parents, family members and even the students themselves.” – A huge Amen to that.

    May 2, 2012 | 11:29 am

  9. Lalaine says:

    Very sad indeed. I have a sister who just got in college and she once told me terrible stories that some of her classmates could not even read properly. Her term was ” pa-utal-utal and pagbasa” for heaven’s sake how can that happen?! How can someone graduate from high school or let alone in elementary when they cannot read properly?!

    I even hear about college students who could not write simple paragraphs in English!!! Oh my goodness, how can these people find jobs and be employed?

    Honestly, I am not proud of the fact our family is migrating to another country. But my husband and I have decided to do it primarily for the educated of our 2 kids. We want them to have at least a chance at better schools abroad with God’s grace. Having gone to UP myself, I am not thrilled for my children to attend college there. Even if it means saving every penny earned, I will in the best of our abilities, send them to the best schools we can afford.

    May 2, 2012 | 11:33 am

  10. Dreaming says:

    Sad! Perhaps that is why those that can afford it send their kids to private schools.

    What can be done about this?

    May 2, 2012 | 12:24 pm

  11. Marketman says:

    Here’s one source that happily reports average public school scores rising in 2009 from 2008, but if I am not mistaken, the tests and content have changed from the test I quote the results of above. And if I read the post correctly, it actually suggests that private school students scored EVEN LOWER than the public school students… making one scratch their head…

    Here’s another source over 3-4 years of test scores (not clear if public,, private or both), for those who are interested.

    May 2, 2012 | 12:43 pm

  12. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    I can vouch for the linked article regarding young Filipinos here in the states. Though the article references Seattle, I can tell you all is the same here in Silicon Valley…the tech captial of the world.

    May 2, 2012 | 12:51 pm

  13. Marketman says:

    From the National Census 2003-2004, The number of people aged 6-24 that WERE NOT attending school and why… so not only are the scores of those in school generally appalling, but another 10-11 million folks who should be in school aren’t even bothering to ATTEND!

    Philippines – 11.64 Million

    “Reasons cited for non-attendance”
    Schools are very far – 1.5%
    No school within the barangay – 0.4%
    No regular transportation – 0.2%
    High cost of education – 19.9%
    Illness / disability – 2.5%
    Housekeeping – 11.8%
    Employment / looking for work – 30.5%
    Lack of personal interest – 22.0%
    Cannot cope with school work – 2.2%
    Others – 9.1%

    May 2, 2012 | 1:07 pm

  14. Nadia says:

    I agree with the results of the survey on non-attendance, especially the 2nd highest reason which is ‘lack of interest’. Sometimes it’s just plain laziness or lack of initiative, which can be prompted by a lack of encouragement from the home/family. I have students who come to class to take an exam without even a pen in hand…and then have the gall to borrow one from me! You know something is inherently wrong when children have the chance to get educated but choose not to or just waste it.

    May 2, 2012 | 1:28 pm

  15. Patricia says:

    Will the new K to 12 curriculum significantly improve these deplorable figures? I truly hope so.

    May 2, 2012 | 3:07 pm

  16. AD says:

    I think education is still very important to the Filipino, but unfortunately, many parents do not know how to educate their children. And it’s not really their fault. It’s society’s fault, it’s our fault. We are failing our students.

    PS. I don’t see what wrong with being more interested in the arts than in the academe. If a child is really interested in the arts then he/she will study not only it’s various techniques, but also it’s history, and is that not academia? The best actors and actresses out there are those that refine and improve their role constantly throughout their careers.
    PPS. I wish people would stop singling out the student who can’t read well, or can’t speak English well. I mean, how do you know that he/she is not a stutterer or a dyslexic? And how does singling them out encourage them in any way?
    PPPS. UP is a decent university. Horrible labs, but theoretically very solid. Very comparable to US universities. (Students in the US even complain the same as students in UP) And UP is improving. There are now lots of new facilities, especially for the sciences.

    May 2, 2012 | 3:23 pm

  17. j. says:

    I agree with Getter Dragon, here in the Silicon Valley many Filipinos would rather focus their energies on extracurricular activities, and it is considered okay by the parents. Public schools are no better, they would rather mollycoddle teachers union’s instead of fixing the problem [look at the scholastic improvements in Louisiana after Katrina]. Students are given grades that are not commensurate with their skills. I can write about this for years!

    In the Philippines, I am led to believe by family [still living there] and friends [mostly ex-pats], that many teachers [public and private institutions] are easily bribed.

    May 2, 2012 | 3:24 pm

  18. Faust says:

    Students don’t go to school with an empty stomach.

    May 2, 2012 | 3:45 pm

  19. Marketman says:

    Faust, absolutely correct. In one survey I read somewhere years ago, perhaps 1/4 of all or younger elementary school students in public schools are considered underweight or a euphemism for malnourishment… Poor nutrition before 5 years of age seems to have some serious permanent damage on one’s brain and capacity to learn later in life…

    AD, if parents can’t help to educate their own children, in my opinion, it is then partially their fault that their kids aren’t getting educated. Why have a kid or many kids if we can’t provide them with the basic needs such as adequate food, shelter and education (that includes decent parental guidance in many matters, not just academics)? We are seeing the start of a serious cycle downwards if less than literate parents have kids who only finish even half of the education years their parents finished, and failed most likely at the classes at that, and they too begin to start families of their own… PS1 – nothing at all with interest in the arts and pursuing passions, but for most societies around the world, it is generally recognized that a minimum of knowledge, often but not always gleaned from education is useful. What use is being an actress and singer if one can’t read and sign their paycheques? Or understand the basics of contractual obligations? Or fill in an application to be a headliner at a foreign hotel bar? Or read prompt cards for a shampoo commercial? PS2 – nobody mentions anything about dyslexia or special learning issues above. I think the reason a majority of folks focus on reading is that it is a basic, important skill, period. As for English, it is by NO MEANS totally essential to understanding or success in the Philippines, but oddly, if you are taking into account realistic probababilities of success at finding gainfull employment with remuneration, and your paycheque matters, I would hazard an educated guess that the vast majority of higher paying jobs available to the younger generation DO IN FACT require some or a serious amount of mastery of the English language… call centers, some 500,000+ jobs in the past ten years, heavily English dependent, overseas workers, some 8+million according to the government, almost all will require a minimum command of the English language, if not some OTHER foreign language — from this group of 8 million several hundred thousand seamean and members of cruise ships plying the world’s oceans, many of whom need at least a decent understanding of English. As for many of the service and technology jobs as well as hotel, hospitality, airline, etc. industries, English is also a plus. It is not a guarantor of success, rather just one of many skills/tools needed to get ahead in the business world. PPPS – Glad to hear U.P. is improving, I have two siblings who attended the university, and it is quite difficult to get into if testing and results of UPCAT are to go by… but then again, with 70,000 taking the test annually and 10,000 passing it, it means out of 2-3 million of the Philippine population that should be of an age attention tertiary education, there are spaces for only 10,000 or 0.33% at the premier national university, and there AREN’T many other public universities with subsidized tuitions, no? So it may be so that we have a decent or even good U.P., there just aren’t enough spaces available. As for the quality of our universities in a global survey, which I realize is subject to dispute, but take for a moment just seeing for illustrative purposes what they say, the Philippines only had 4 universities in the Top 700 schools around the world or so. U.P. ranked a dismal 332, Ateneo dropped dramatically to rank 360, La Salle to 550-600, and UST, a school older than Harvard, to 600+ in the rankings, see this post and the rankings, here. And this poor showing, from the 12th largest or most populous country on the planet. Yes, we now rank 12th in size of population, and we have one state university amongst the world’s 700, and three private universities on that list as well… I am ranting, I know, but not because of any comment here, but because I am so darned mad how bad the situation is. All of the readers should be livid, because complacency is far worse than frustration. :(

    Patricia, it’s not a silver bullet, but it’s a start in the right direction. However, unless backed up by resources (rooms, books, teachers) and improvements in training, quality of personnel, curriculums, etc., the additional years may not necessarily improve things. Also, with so many kids in one public school classroom, the conditions for learning are just so appalling that it isn’t hard to understand why the situation is so darned grim. Folks migrating to Canada, for example, may be surprised to learn that Canadian universities will often require that Filipino students take two more years of high school AFTER they have a diploma from a Philippine school, before they can enroll in college. Worse, if you finished college in the Philippines, you may have to take two more years of college in Canada before you would be considered to really have finished the equivalent of their college degree… that is a reflection of the number of primary years of education in the Philippines, which if I understand correctly, was one of the shorter number of years in school in most developing and developed nations around the world.

    May 2, 2012 | 5:34 pm

  20. Marketman says:

    For those that are curious, in that world ranking of universities, one might think it is western-centric, leaving out Asian universities, but that isn’t so… Of the top 150 universities in the world, 26 Asian/Australian schools made it onto the rankings, with each of these countries having x number of universities in the Top 150:

    Japan – 7 universities
    Australia – 6 universities (total population 22 million)
    Hong Kong – 5 universities (total population just 7 million people!)
    South Korea – 3 universities
    China – 3 universities
    Taiwan – 1 university
    Singapore – 1 university

    May 2, 2012 | 6:00 pm

  21. Sarah says:

    When I was in college a few years ago, I volunteered to tutor Grade 6 kids from a public school. Honestly, it was a depressing experience. We gave them a diagnostic test to see where they were in terms of math and English. Needless to say it was appalling. For instance, they didn’t know how to do long division. Instead of the usual long division, they drew sticks and counted it out. When we asked them to divide 125 by 5, they actually drew 125 sticks and counted how many fives there were. I can’t imagine what they would have done if we asked them to divide 4 or 5 digit numbers. And don’t get me started on English. They didn’t know basic sentence construction! I asked them to write a paragraph about themselves and one of them wrote “I is XXX. I is grade 6…” It was a nightmare.

    May 2, 2012 | 6:11 pm

  22. Pere says:

    ‘Wishfully, hopefully, positively thinking’? I get the feeling it’s not just the kids; we all need a refresher course in the basics…

    May 2, 2012 | 7:04 pm

  23. ConnieC says:

    It is interesting to note that the decline in education/educational system is being decried not only in the Philippines but in the US as well. It can be said that education is a multisystem function and can take place beyond the schools with the participation of parents, family, government and the society as a whole.

    Some important issues to consider are instilling good sense of values and how we define them, especially in this too materialistic and money oriented world, critical and independent thinking and fostering creativity …. not copy cats (as in plagiarizing and lifting from MM’s blog) among them. The bottom line, how we can all be good , honest human beings who contribute to society, who take care of each other and the world we live in.

    In the book “Deschooling Society” by Ivan Illich, the author states:

    “A good educational system should have three purposes: it should provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time in their lives; empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them; and, finally, furnish all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenge known.”

    May 2, 2012 | 7:33 pm

  24. sunflowii says:

    so sad and depressing. =(

    as for “they were much more into dancing and singing than studying and earning academic awards”, it may be a north american thing as well where some students seem to aim for fame and celebrity, most likely encouraged by reality tv shows.

    May 2, 2012 | 9:28 pm

  25. PITS, MANILA says:

    Sigh. I have interviewed people who claim to have passed grade 6. You’ll be surprised to know that they can hardly read/write. It’s not just “the lack of interest” … it’s the absence of it. They’re not interested to learn at all. Most female subjects have a plan and one plan only. To start a family as soon as possible.

    May 2, 2012 | 10:53 pm

  26. KUMAGCOW says:

    Well, fwiw we are faring well now… I hope it’ll be the same in the future

    Have you guys read this?


    May 2, 2012 | 11:39 pm

  27. SuR-USA says:

    Good post!

    It’s sadly prevalent. Even in this USofA; I just built a $140 mil state-of-the-art public high school here in ABQ NM (replete with the latest educational paradigms ang technological gadgets: career academies, small learning communities, smartboards, etc. the building even won architectural awards) and the graduation rate will prove to remain just north of 50% (incidentally while average rates hover around 67% statewide, Asian students reports close to 84%); the sad consolation and only bragging rights for this new school? One of the settings for the summer Hollywood blockbuster, the avengers. ;-)

    You would think that the matrix for success is simple. Family income is highly correlative. Which is indicative of parents’ lack of education. Which predicts their (un)willingness and (dis)resolve to take part in their children’s success. We have problems with teachers unions which, more true than not, safeguards incompetence and mediocrity. We’ve got teacher’s pay scale problems which may detract the motivated individuals to the teaching profession. A surge in ‘marketist approach’ competition in the form of charter and magnet schools. Mix in that pot is an acculturation of ‘immediate and quick gratification’ wherein kids are unwilling to invest time and effort for delayed gains. All contribute to the downward spiral…

    See ‘Waiting for Superman’ , ‘The Lottery’ –movies both on the sad state of affairs in the US public educational system…

    May 3, 2012 | 12:57 am

  28. la emperor says:

    Ouch! I was shocked and dismayed for I thought that the “over 50%” I voted for was a safe bet, albeit conservative. Never thought I would see these very poor results.
    I read all the comments, reasoning and insights from first hand teachers, relatives and people who were involved one way or another in the public school system ;
    Overcrowding in schools, poor health and nutrition, economics, lack of motivation, lack of transportation…etc.etc.

    They are all valid and legitimate!
    However, I believe that all these problems leads us to one the main roots.


    When I was growing up ( ’72 in K-school ), our population was around 40million. Now fast forward 40 years and we are now closing into 100 million (maybe we have already breached that, I don’t know). That’s an average of 1.5 million new babies a year. How could our underdeveloped country sustain that knowing a good majority of these people are going to use the public school system? How many new public schools were built between that period? Let me guess, probably, not too many. And teachers added? Most likely what was done was increase the ratio of students to teachers. Or worst case, kids were turned away because there were no seats available. All of these were reflected from those results.

    I feel fortunate that I went to a private school from k-10 back there, and even more fortunate to attend one of the four ranked Philippine Universities you mentioned, MM. (That is my parents’ gift to us and I practiced the same thing with my children) We are by no means wealthy but my parents worked very hard to get me and my siblings thru. Yet , when I moved to Canada similar to what you mentioned, I also had a difficult time competing with newly grads here ( was also raw , meaning no job experience ) so I could not find the job I desired. Employers were hesitant because of my foreign background. So, it turned to be a blessing and a challenge for myself. I decided to go back to school after saving enough money. And of course things turned for the better. My career flourished.

    Now going back to overpopulation, if you think it’s bad now look at these charts. We are predicted to go over 145 million in another 30 years.
    Assuming 20% of that population is of school age (between 6-20), with a classroom size of 50 students ea., that would mean we need roughly 580000 classrooms along with teachers . How many do we have now? That is such a large number to service considering the teaching profession is not a popular one too nowadays, because of their menial salary. Teachers will be a scarce commodity in the future, if I may say.

    So if we keep our population growth unchecked it would be disastrous for all of us. Alarm bells should be ringing now! And a final question for everyone, Why do you think China issued a one child policy, many decades ago? They were also feeling the pinch at the time and they knew that it is not sustainable at all with their current resources. Along with overpopulation comes, many social, environmental and economic problems. You can search it up in wiki.

    It is never too late though and with our economy getting better, there is hope. It is now time for the government to attack the roots of these problems and address these issues. I know there’s been a hot debate not too long ago regarding the birth control legislation, and I don’t know where it’s at. Maybe it died already, but that discussion is not for today, along with the other root of our society’s problems, which is Corruption!

    May 3, 2012 | 1:53 am

  29. la emperor says:

    ooopsss.. “over 145 million in another 30 years.”

    should say “over 145 million in another 30+ years.”

    May 3, 2012 | 2:07 am

  30. JE says:

    The top 150 universities in those rankings all seem to be primarily from non-Third World/developing nations; offhand, I’d assume that a majority of them have significantly high barriers to entry, whether it’s a matter of finances or strict qualifications before admittance. There are some that have low domestic/international fees at the top of the list; those might be either state-subsidized by a significant portion, or maybe outdated or incorrect information.

    I’m curious to see if there’s anything that can be gained from looking at the schools at the top of the list and analyzing if there’s certain characteristics/approaches/programs in common that other schools might see fit to emulate or interpret similarly, even with extremely limited resources. I don’t want to think of improving the standards of education as just a matter of funds, because at that rate we don’t have a hope in hell of making it farther atop that list. Or maybe I’m just being extremely idealistic.

    May 3, 2012 | 2:17 am

  31. cwid says:

    Regarding the poor mastery of English by the students, this may not explain entirely the students’ failure in logic and comprehension. As was pointed out in the Mike Luz report:

    “In what areas were high school seniors particularly weak?

    In English, there is real difficulty in inference, interpretation of information, deduction of meaning, drawing conclusions and summarizing ideas. This is a problem of comprehension. Our high school graduates are not understanding what they are reading nor are they developing proficiency in the language. And therefore, they cannot put together coherent ideas to explain themselves or articulate what they want to say whether verbally or in writing. In short, they are grossly deficient in basic and higher order thinking.

    Is this a problem with the language or with the logic behind the language? The results suggest that this might be the latter because there are similar results when testing for Filipino.”

    May 3, 2012 | 3:10 am

  32. orb says:

    It’s a very sad state indeed. As a current Pinoy grad student in the sciences here in the U.S., it made me think whether I should go back home and teach at university after graduation or find work/tenure here in the U.S. (where there are more opportunities in terms of grants, research, etc.). In the U.S., people are also concerned about improving STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education as they are lagging behind other countries like China, Singapore and Japan (http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/09/opinion/bennett-stem-education/index.html). There is a non-profit group called Teach for America, which employs high achieving recent college graduates and professionals to teach kids about math and science for 2 or more years in low income communities (I guess it is similar to the US Peace Corps). I wonder if we can emulate this back home so that we can provide our bright, recent graduates an opportunity to apply/impart what they learned.

    May 3, 2012 | 6:56 am

  33. Clarissa says:

    A lot has already been said but a lot of things can still be said.

    I have written, erased, and written my thoughts all over again. So many factors, so many reasons. We can all blab as to what we think needs to be addressed. But perhaps helping out one or a few people at a time can make the biggest difference. That’s my sentiment.

    May 3, 2012 | 8:23 am

  34. Gigi says:

    ….and this is why even menial job positions like supermarket bagger require a college degree nowadays….

    @Orb – we have volunteer groups that send college grads to provincial communities like Ateneo’s Jesuit Volunteer Corps and another group based in Assumption. Term is usually 1 year. Was part of JV many moons ago but my assignment was non-teaching.

    @MM – when MIT’s opencourseware was relatively new, I looked at the lectures uploaded on the site and was so shocked. I felt as if everything I learned in Ateneo was kindergarten compared to the MIT lectures. So depressed I never went back to the site. haha……

    May 3, 2012 | 9:14 am

  35. Rona Y says:

    “but another 10-11 million folks who should be in school aren’t even bothering to ATTEND!”

    “bothering to attend” (particularly the use of the word “bother”) implies that those who are not attending find it annoying or troublesome to go to school. But speaking from the point of view of the workers on my mother’s family’s “farm”, they would love for their children to go to school. And they would love for their children to break out of the poverty they and their families have lived in for generations. But if it’s a choice between spending P30/day (return trip) on jeepney fare or P30/day for rice, which would you choose? Most of them would choose to eat, even if it’s just substandard quality rice. So some of the children don’t go to school every day, even though they have pretty good incentives to go (my mother’s family pays for their educational needs, even supplies for school projects, and any students who maintain a certain GPA will have their post-secondary studies paid for).

    “Why have a kid or many kids if we can’t provide them with the basic needs such as adequate food, shelter and education (that includes decent parental guidance in many matters, not just academics)? ”

    I know you’re just ranting, but to imply that poor people shouldn’t have children hints not a little of class superiority.

    Someone mentioned Teach for America. That would never work in the Philippines. TfA Corps members, who are not usually trained teachers, make a decent salary (the same as starting teachers in their area)–it’s not a volunteer position. In the Philippines, beginner teachers at public schools (at least in the Bacolod area) have to “volunteer” for a few years before they can even get a paid position. If a trained teacher cannot even get a paid position, where will the money come from to pay those “high achieving” graduates in the Philippines a salary they (probably) think they deserve? And if they did get paid, would they be willing to accept the same salary a public school teacher gets? I think not. Not only that, but can you imagine some of those graduates (face it, most if not all of the high-achieving graduates will come from privileged backgrounds) living in the communities where they would be working? Most of them probably turn their heads to avoid looking at the poor folks begging for money in the streets. And I know from experience that many don’t even acknowledge/notice the help in their friends/relatives homes. How will they ever “lower” themselves to live amongst and associate with those people on a daily basis?

    Perhaps one of the best ways to improve the standards of education in the Philippines is to put more money into it. That would mean the rich would have to give up more of their coffers in order to help the poor. I don’t see that happening, either. How many of the rich pay their own help enough for the latter to break out of servitude? I see members of the upper socio-economic classes give comparatively token amounts, but how many give 10% or 15% of their incomes to charitable (or even better, 10% or more of their time directly volunteering for charitable causes)? And how many would be willing to give 20% or 25%? They could still live very comfortably, but they could contribute a great deal to help the less fortunate live more comfortably, too.

    Sorry, now I’m ranting. But I believe the blame for the poor quality of education in the Phil. should lay just as squarely on the shoulders of people in the upper socio-economic classes (and I include members of my own family in that group) as it does on those of the lower ones.

    May 3, 2012 | 10:14 am

  36. Papa Ethan says:

    I was once part of a project that involved producing and distributing free storybooks to children in far-flung areas. The books had to be durable (i.e., expensive). For one, a sturdy book cover was imperative because every volume would be subjected to multiple readership, in rugged conditions. Secondly, the paper for the pages had to be strong, too, because of the appalling fact that “lightweight” publications in newsprint are conveniently used as toilet paper in those places.

    And then there was this NGO that employed a novel tactic to improve school attendance. They offered free breakfast as an incentive for the kids to come to school in the first place. The full meal also prepared the students physically and mentally for the day ahead. A take-home ration of rice and dried fish awaited those who would stay and complete a full day in school. All this was meant to convince the parents that it was worthwhile for their children to attend schooling.

    Sadly, that NGO ran the natural course of its life as an entity and has ceased to exist.

    Such noble and gallant efforts are of course a mere flash-in-the pan because, as mentioned above, the problems are nebulous and systemic in nature. I just shared this little snippet because I feel that the experience dramatized (for me, at least) in a very direct and pragmatic way the bizarre situations pertaining to the issue of education in the hinterlands.

    May 3, 2012 | 11:01 am

  37. Peter Balzer says:

    On the DepEd’s website is a link to a fact sheet (Excel format) hidden away under fact & figures: http://www.deped.gov.ph/cpanel/uploads/issuanceImg/factsheet2011_Nov%2016.xls
    It provides information on enrollment in private and public schools for elementary and secondary schools, respectively. For 2011, about 80 percent of high school students were enrolled in public schools, 20 percent in private schools. In the same year, 92 percent of elementary students were enrolled in public schools and only 8 percent in private schools. The fact sheet also lists achievement scores, but apparently not differentiated between public and private schools. If you have the scores for public schools only, then you can compute the performance of private school students from the total results.

    May 3, 2012 | 1:56 pm

  38. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    @ J – Hopefully you don’t spend much time at the (not so) Great Mall. That said, there are young Filipinos here in Silicon Valley who do buck the trend and go on to become respectable adults: http://joseantoniovargas.com/home/
    Though I disagree with his politics, I do enjoy his writing.

    May 3, 2012 | 2:22 pm

  39. j. says:

    @ Getter Dragon…I spend it at the library or in SJSU, never did like Great Mall, always went to Oakridge, Valley Fair, Downtown Los Gatos and Town and Country [now Santana Row]. I am in agreement with you, about Vargas’ politics, and I do read him, but not as much as say Malkin [I’ve just revealed my political bent…a little]. I find that many Filipino kids [those who were born and grew up here] do tend to follow the trend, wrong ones at that, instead of finding their way, aspiring to be another Jay-Z or Scherzinger [sp?] instead of say an Eduardo San Juan or a Malkin or a Vargas.

    May 3, 2012 | 3:11 pm

  40. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    @ j – Remember in the 90’s, many a Filipino musicians were making their way into the American mainstreatm. Filipino pop musicians that is (ie/ Jocelyn Enriquez, Pinay, Kai, Buffy, Innerlude, One Voice, Judy Plug, Jaya). The problem was that many of them were putting their ethnic identity before their music. It was like, ‘listen to me because I’m Filipino’.

    I went to see Mr. Vargas when he was speaking at his alma mater. To my suprise, no Filipinos. I wonder why that is? Despite his politics, Mr. Vargas does ask the tough questions. Suprisingly, he wrote an article in the Chronicle about reverse racism. Specifically how white students are becoming the minority. He picked a good place to start…Independence HS.

    That said, it does beg the question if, perhaps, there are a few young Filipinos who are underachieving because of their immigration status or the immigration status of their parents.

    May 3, 2012 | 3:53 pm

  41. robin says:

    “everyone in society has to do their part…”

    “unlike in the past where graduating…”

    “just read a local news…”

    “I have a sister who just got in college…”

    “Her term was ” pa-utal-utal and pagbasa” for heaven’s sake how can that happen?!”

    I am nitpicking but in the context of the arguments about the seemingly poor state of the educational system in the Philippines, it is ironic that some of us who lament such poor state, are also not quite adept in the use of the English language. The optimist in me is hopeful that the seeming inadequacy can be simply attributed to haste in typing one’s reaction though this reason is debatable.

    May 3, 2012 | 5:14 pm

  42. Marketman says:

    Rona Y, in the comments above, I actually list the reasons cited why they don’t attend school, and yes, looking for a jobs is tops, but second is “no interest” and thus I take it, literally NOT bothering to attend… As for the comment on people not having children if they can’t afford it, I thought about that one before I wrote it — and I don’t think it is anti-poor or elitist in the least. I know of at least half a dozen families you would typically group in the top 1-2% of the Philippine population, highly educated parents, and who, for whatever reasons chose to have 6,7 and in one case, 10,+ kids and for whatever reasons, are now seriously struggling to pay for their schooling or proper food even… it isn’t just necessarily the classically defined “poor” that make, in my opinion, less than intelligent decisions with respect to having kids that they cannot support adequately. Everyone has the RIGHT to have as many kids as they want… but don’t those kids have the RIGHT as well to at least sufficient food, shelter and education? They didn’t ASK to be in this world, their parents CHOSE or KNOWLINGLY brought them into this world. So the responsibility naturally falls on the parents to provide for them. When anyone goes to a grocery, do they put food in their cart they can’t pay for? Do they expect others on the line with them to pay for any shortfalls in their total bill? Not.

    My wife and I (along with doezens of friends) have been instrumental in the setting up of two schools in the Philippines, and while non-profit, definitely at the highest echelons of what you might describe as “elitist” schools. But they do also provide several full and partial ride scholarships for those who can’t afford that type of education. And I believe, even the wealthy need to get a good education… So over the years, that personal effort will translate into thousands of educated kids, some of whom will hopefully do something positive for society in future. That school also has efforts to provide teacher training and assistance for other local schools to help improve skills and experience… The dozen or so folks who established these schools, and dozens who helped afterwards, provided hundreds of millions of pesos in funds to set those non-profit schools up, and tens of millions of pesos in value of professional services as well. But it is a DROP in the bucket, when the bucket seems to be growing at a “jack in the beanstalk” pace…

    In another realm, our family (and the marketmanila family of readers and friends) has facilitated or caused to happen some 150,000 meals for undernourished public school children in Taguig and Cebu over the past 5 years, kids who all fell into the severely malnourished category, and many of whom improved attendance statistics because of those meals. And yet, when I talked to many of the kids and their teachers, it was obvious that they had numerous siblings on average, up to 9-10 in Cebu for example… and as a result of their being fed in the school, their parents DID NOT feed them when they got home so there would be more food for the other kids, many babies and younger than the kid participating in the feeding program. So how useless and futile is that effort, I thought?? And after they were fortunate enough to receive feeding assistance, and in some cases scholarships, the parents had 3, 4 or MORE kids knowing they had nary enough to feed their first 5 kids. To me, that is just plain dumb and irresponsible, whether you are poor, rich, educated, uneducated, religious or atheist… just because EVERYONE who can breed has the inalienable RIGHT to have offspring, does not, in my personal opinion, mean they have the RIGHT to expect ANYONE else but themselves to provide for those offspring…

    Finally, we have provided several full ride scholarships in elementary, high-school and even “elite” private colleges for those we know, or know of who wanted to complete their schooling, and that includes other related expenses so that they can complete their schooling and hopefully have better opportunities in future. We have also stocked public school libraries, donated computers, audio-visual equipment, underwritten teacher training, etc. over the past 15 years.

    And with all of this, we CHOSE to have just one child. We certainly could have had more. But it was a personal choice not to. That’s just us. But I do think we have definitely done our part to help, or at least certainly not done anything to EXACERBATE the problem. Far more than the average person in the top 5% of the Filipino socio-economic bracket has done. And that 5% bracket includes some 98% of the readers of this blog…

    With only 1-2% of the population now belonging to the say AB socioeconomic distinction, see this old post here, it would be nice if they all helped to educate the rest of the country, but I would be the first to say, I sure as hell don’t want to subsidize education and help those with less income for much longer IF they continue to exacerbate their own situation by having 3,4,5,6 more kids after it is clear they cannot raise them by providing food, shelter and education. It’s a population issue, without a doubt, in my mind. And there is a part of me, that wonders what would have been better, spending say PHP20 million on educational related assistance, or buying 4 million condoms or funding hundreds or thousands of voluntary vasectomies or tubal ligations, etc. I do wonder. But that’s another long story and discussion right there. :)

    I am not mad, or even irked by your comments or any other ones above, I LOVE the discourse, but I hope people DO get mad enough to THINK about this issue good and hard, and to really understand just how bad the situation is. We are facing 2-3 generations worth of kids say 20-30-40 million of our kababayans who WILL reach adult age and frankly have almost no useful education to rely on. That is scary.

    As for equity, let me give another illustrative example:

    Family A, two working parents, eke out enough to provide decent housing and food for their two kids, but opt to send them to a local public school because of cost. Their two kids are in classes of say 75 students and learn little. The two parents pay some taxes and some of that goes to educate their kids. But in the same class as their kids, are kids of families that are not working, waiting for dole outs or remittances from relatives toiling in the Middle East, and they CHOSE to have 11 kids each, all of whom also attend the public school system, and add to the high student numbers in each class… their parents provide no taxes to the government and thus all their 11 kids are educated by the government and others. Is that right? Really? Is it right that the “Family A” kids get a less robust education because others make those choices? Just because the second family has less, or has nothing, is it really fully the responsibility of others who have acted conservatively and responsibly to cover the cost of that education? I personally think not. Not at all. You are rewarding irresponsibility (and I would say stupidity after a stiff drink even) while penalizing the folks who have tried to act responsibly.

    Unless the numbers of new kids entering our inadequate school system DECLINES, I think there is little hope of it really getting better in the next 10-15 years, regardless of throwing a substantial amount of money at the problem, having an honest leader focus on education like it is the number one priority, and having society pull together to help out.

    So here is my answer to the obvious question out there… So, smartass Marketman, what would you do?

    This would be hard to swallow, and not a popular move, but here are some things that pop into my mind, regardless of backlash.

    1. I would create a two-class system of public schools, a really high performing model with better facilities, budgets, the best teachers, etc. and have one in each town or area for every say 100,000 public school kids. That would say translate into I don’t know, 200-300 “elite” public schools across the country (a better version of say Philippine Science high school, for example). I would find a corporate or private sponsor to partner with these schools, and also provide say at least PHP10-20 million for facilities, labs, etc. while the government would put in say 40-60 million, thus a starting pot of say PHP70 million (I have an idea how much you need for a good school set-up, because I actually opened two of them, though private). Then, I would pick the HIGHEST performing, scoring, potential kids in each area and move them to that “elite” public school on a voluntary basis. So if they have say 1000 kids each (top 1% of kids), then at least I have now identified, isolated and can more readily develop the top 200,000-300,000 kids in the public school system around the country.

    2. If that works, then slowly based on budget restrictions, transfer the best practices to other public schools, so that over the next 20-25 years, a serious improvement actually takes place.

    3. I would also do the following that would PISS OFF a lot of folks… public school education for the first 2-3 children would be absolutely free. But if you have more than 3 children, it would either cost you money to send them to school, or they would have to stay in schools that had extremely crowded conditions. I can the hear the howls of indignation amongst some of the readers, but that is what I would do. Should you sink a ship and lose everyone, or try to save some and let the others suffer? Tough and unpopular choices are often the right ones. Think of this as a modern day Philippine educational “Noah’s Ark” and you only could afford and had space for 200,000 kids on this ship, which 200,000 kids would you pick? The ones with the highest potential to succeed and learn in the schools, or a first come first serve basis, or a random lottery, or a palakasan my tito is a barangay tanod system??? Sure you want to save everyone, but you JUST CAN’T.

    4. Of the say 20-30,000 graduates each year from the elite public school system, they would be guaranteed spots in public universities if they liked, or some proportion of them could go onto slots of scholarships at elite private universities, say 5,000 of them to the top 20 private universities wouldn’t kill many of the private schools…

    And from there you can see how I would proceed. An “elite” public school system with say the first 50 school campuses could be up in less than 2 years if it was run by the right person, properly funded and given real power to get things finished. Of course you would have to deal with all manner of crap to do this right, but it would be a great start. I am NOT a politician, and would die in a matter of minutes amongst politicians… but if there was a real will to change the school system for the better, it could be done. And real change visible in less than half a term of a sitting President. It’s the lack of understanding and sense of urgency that prevents this…

    5. My second major thrust would be to set up really good vocational schools. Say a great plumbing school. A great electrician school. The world’s best nanny, cook, maid, waiter, seaman, butler, hairdresser, chauffer, salesperson, etc. school. And make it free. TESDA has already done some of this, but we need it on a more massive scale. Let’s face it, we are the SERVICE PROVIDER to the world, so we might as well do it with highly trained, skilled people who can get and maintain better jobs and earn higher salaries. Without government interference, and with just say PHP100 million in initial support and say PHP30 million per year in running expenses, plus private sector sponsors from hotels and restaurants, one could set up a SPECTACULAR school for restaurant waiters and managers, and probably train easily 20-24,000 a year in each of three locations, one in Metro Manila, one in Cebu (ovbviously because I am Cebuano :) and one in say Davao. The total 70,000 graduates per year would have far better qualifications to enable them to get local and international jobs more easily.

    And if I gave this more thought, I bet I could come up with major thrust 3,4,5,6,7… It isn’t that hard to come up with the ideas, it is the absence of intense vision and the will to implement that is sorely lacking…

    May 3, 2012 | 5:41 pm

  43. MP says:

    I once heard a teacher reprimand his student: “hoy why do you throwing the balot of the candies here, there and everywhere”? I laughed, until someone said that he was the student’s ENGLISH teacher…. It was truly an awful OMG moment….

    May 3, 2012 | 8:30 pm

  44. ConnieC says:

    I am mad that the Reproductive Health Act in the Philippines has not passed!

    It is good to “dis-incentivise” reproduction. China has successfully implemented the one child policy until they ran into a problem with gender inequality ( more females than males) and now allowing a second child if the first one is female. The couple will then have to pay the state a hefty ( by Chineses standards) US $30,000 if they want a third child. But the biggest stumbling block to population control or reproductive planning or management in the Philippines is the Catholic church who will simply not let this happen.

    And perhaps many or those who are “irresponsibly” continuing to exercise their reproductive rights to the fullest without thinking of the impact on their offsprings are not just irresponsible, or stupid but lack the proper education, on sex, reproductive health and everything else, the very tool that makes people decide what may be good for them.

    In Cuba, where there is almost a 98 % literacy rate and where education is free and accessible to everyone, the people have taken it upon themselves to limit their family size.

    And some random thoughts on the population explosion issue: for the male of the species in a still sexist society, it may be that unfettered exercise ( without use of protection) of their carnal desires ; for Catholics, the fear of being “excommunicated” from church.

    May 3, 2012 | 10:51 pm

  45. SuR-USA says:

    MM– you obviously are not running for office;-) you’ve got compelling pragmatism on “practical segregation”. In the US where, in my woods, there is the obvious race component, which would render those approaches to be conveniently conflated as regressive policy vis’ race, and pre Brown v. board of education. In the PI, there is not that burden; it would’ve to be tackled around the rich-poor dichotomy. It’s funny how sensible family planning easily regresses into a discussion of elitism- I’m with you…

    But, In fact, yours is not that radical— the HS I attended (pre-US) in ilocos implemented that policy you describe (the 5 “unpopular”) wherein upon entry to 1st year high school, some form of selection/grouping/cohort based on elem school records is employed based on abilities and promise. There is the college-prep track and there is the vocational track. (this is also employed in some of the most successful schools in NYc : the hi-school in Greenwich village PS 41, Bronx science, etc…)

    That ‘sink a ship or lose everyone’ metaphor is apt. And it’s economically sensible to be thinking in those terms re educational policy.

    The model that makes private schools work is around selection (self or family) that gets everyone on a better initial footing. The unfortunate position / charge of public education, as you rightly point out, is being spread too thin to address the extremes of the bell-curve as well the bell itself.

    @gigi as a columbia u alumni, those open courseworks are not fair representation of the intensity required in classes (but I do joke that i did harder work as an undergrad at u of Hawaii that in some classes at these Ivies)

    May 3, 2012 | 11:13 pm

  46. j. says:

    @ Getter Dragon, I think its much more than the immigration status, its more about the educational status of their parents.

    @ ConnieC, you do realize that the Cuban educational system is much worse than the Philippines, and about free health care, it’s not at all how Michael Moore paints it to be. Go to this site [http://www.therealcuba.com/Page10.htm] to see the difference. China uses forcible abortion and sterilization, and is very repressive and brutal to its people, [see Chen Guangchen’s plight; on a different note, it is sad that America has left him in his time of need. Also see Christian, Muslim, and Falun Gong religious prisoners and the illegal organ trade in China]. Otherwise I agree with you on lack of proper education about something as simple as reproductive health, actually proper education, period.

    @MM, the Japanese school system is tiered, you have to get a certain score or have to be talented at certain sports/sciences/etc… to even dream about going to a particular middle school or highschool. Do you think that a modified version of their system [which you have somewhat alluded to in your 2nd reasoning], would work for Philippine school systems? I am appalled that some of my cousins can barely string a sentence together in English, and their parents have placed them in expensive private schools. What about rooting teachers, administrators, and the likes who take bribes to pass student’s grades. Something that I’ve heard is very prevalent in PI.

    May 4, 2012 | 2:49 am

  47. Connie C says:

    J: I do not mean to extol the virtues of the communist states, only to say what is good and what works for their people, namely in education and healthcare. I got my information from visiting those places and talking to people who have no agenda about propagandizing their system as they also talked about political repression and their desire for genuine democracy.

    Also in Cuba, they have a track system where students geared towards sciences are able to pursue their inclination. Those not as gifted intellectually or who have no interest in pursuing higher education or do not wish to go to school are either sent to vocational schools or in the extreme, to something like a boot camp, enough for them to reconsider going back to regular schools. And everybody has a chance to learn arts, music and dance in the courses that are incorporated in their studies. Look what a small country with limited resources can do for its people.

    May 4, 2012 | 4:36 am

  48. Marketman says:

    Interesting publication by the The World Bank on Education in Asia, here. It’s an old book… but still interesting… trying to find newer data.

    May 4, 2012 | 8:26 am

  49. mbw says:

    just an observation, MM…since my husband and I have been supporting young people through highschool here in Mindoro. We have actually lowered our standards not just a few notches lower but lots of notches lower when it comes to not just academic expectations but also in terms of attitude towards their future. Even with quite strong potentials for educational excellence, the incentives these young people face do not seem to be very inspiring. Their peers and environment do not encourage “nerds” nor “geeks” nor “intelligent” people. Education is still much prized by the parents but just that their children finish highschool, take a vocational course (be a seaman) and hopefully work abroad to help other siblings go through highschool, take a vocational course…the cycle goes. “Mediocrity is safe to be around”…and the standard suffers that way. And I really have a question about this K-12…why extend the years when the curriculum, the teachers especially have to be re-“educated”. Someone here commented on an English teacher talking garbled English to the student…we have met one too! And she spoke with so much confidence on her barok English that I was really, really amused but I had to “pocket my guffaw” since we were in front of her students.

    May 4, 2012 | 8:37 am

  50. crabbychef says:

    Being a teacher, I feel obliged to leave a comment. I have been connected with the private sector for most of my career, but I also help out the DepEd. My battlecry has always been to attract the best teachers. The sad fact of it is that it is easy to point out what is lacking, physically, in most schools – blackboards, desks, books, and computers – but the reality is even without those things, a really good teacher can help students learn. My take on schools which are inclined to adopting technology is that it is too much, too soon. Even in private schools, how sure are we that the spanking new tablet we hand to an incompetent, ill-equipped teacher is not just another tool with which to screw things up in the classroom?

    My wish for Philippine education is to empower teachers. Create success stories and let them multiply. I have seen it first-hand – good teachers make a difference. They make students think and want to go to school. They are the single, most important factor in the classroom.

    MM. please allow a shameless plug from a really frustrated teacher. IF YOU CAN AND WANT TO, PLEASE TEACH. THE KIDS ARE REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING YOU. PLEASE.

    May 4, 2012 | 8:43 am

  51. Marketman says:

    crabbychef, hahaha, I thought about it on several occasions… but I think if I taught a business strategy course at the best local business school, 80% of my students would run out and drop the class after our first session. I would be brutal. :)

    as for kids, I have done several short sessions re: business issues, and know I would be an evil bad teacher. No patience. Would use coat hooks on the walls to hang up miscreants…

    No, sorry, teaching in a traditional sense would land me in court or jail. :)

    May 4, 2012 | 8:48 am

  52. crabbychef says:

    MM, that’s sad. How about adult school?

    I’d then like to address my plea to your readers. Just trying to cast a wider net. You never know. :)

    May 4, 2012 | 8:53 am

  53. Marketman says:

    crabbychef, I agree that teachers are the key, and one of the most heroic professions to pursue… and at the moment, so fewer people are choosing to take this path, a really bad sign for the future…

    May 4, 2012 | 8:57 am

  54. PITS, MANILA says:

    I’m in favor of your ideas (1-5), MM. How to spring them is the challenge.
    TESDA has sparked an interest to many but sadly, TESDA is not accessible to most. If every barangay has access to TESDA, issues like proximity, logistics etc wouldn’t be a hindrance.
    One cannot just teach … there is a “calling” for this. And even if one is “called”, one should consider and reconsider a multitude of issues. I haven’t been “called”. And sadly, I have no patience to teach. Two of my siblings teach. Hats off to them!
    Issues on the RH Bill, parenting, education … I have tried listening to the less fortunate on so many occasions, trying to understand where exactly they’re coming from. It’s like opening Pandora’s box, hahaha!

    May 4, 2012 | 9:40 am

  55. Nadia says:

    Ha ha, MM…I would be the first to enroll in your business strategy course and would probably love the torture!!! I can be brutal in class myself, but I constantly remind and make my students understand that THEY make their grade not their teacher. I just help them achieve the grade that they want.

    “Should you sink a ship and lose everyone, or try to save some and let the others suffer?” I totally agree with your education suggestion #3! I actually follow a similar mantra in my classes when it comes to lazy, uninterested students. If you don’t show any interest in learning or give any effort in studying, even if your environment is already supporting you, then you don’t deserve my time and effort. I’d rather concentrate on the few students who actually give a damn. As you said, “Sure you want to save everyone, but you JUST CAN’T!” Amen to that!

    May 4, 2012 | 9:47 am

  56. ConnieC says:

    Amen, amen to crabbychef.

    I feel sad for the homeland when I see teachers being successfully recruited to teach here in the US and elsewhere abroad to occupy highly regarded positions as headmasters/mistressess, principals, science, biology teachers, etc. The country must seriously find ways first, to attract young men and women to the teaching profession . How to keep them is another matter so we do not lose them to the brain drain as is true with the other professions.

    May 4, 2012 | 11:07 am

  57. MP says:

    Hi Crabbychef, would you know if one needs an Education degree to be able to teach? I don’t have one but I would love to teach (as a volunteer). I have a Bachelor’s degree in communication arts and earned a Master’s degree in International Social Development. I did ask a DepEd officer years ago and was informed that I needed some Educ units to be able to teach. Maybe the rules have changed???

    May 4, 2012 | 12:23 pm

  58. crabbychef says:

    MP, if you would like to teach at the basic education level (pre-school, grade school, high school) you do need to take courses to qualify you to take the licensure exam for teachers (LET). I believe some institutions offer these courses spread across only two semesters or one academic year.

    I think your credentials are enough for college though, because you have an MA. If you have the heart for it, please do consider it. I find that the best teachers are the ones who truly care about the kids. :)

    May 4, 2012 | 12:43 pm

  59. Yvette says:

    “Hiphop over homework” Seriously Asian Journal? Do better. The report this article cites highlights way more than that. I am tired, weary/wary of hip hop (or any art form) constantly being blamed or held responsible for the downfall of young people when really we should be looking at the community and the systemic problems that have gotten us here.

    From the article – “Now why have other Filipino transplants, who are such achievers in and of themselves, become so uninspiring to the second generation? And why does it seem like their diligence and dedication are absent when it comes to their kids’ education? Or is it simply that they are hungrier or more passionate about achieving the American dream than their children, who have never known deprivation?”

    The report it cites actually answers these questions quite well. There are multilevel issues ranging from lack of access/knowledge of resources to cultural/generational gaps. As an undergrad at UCLA, I did countless hours (YEARS) of high school outreach to Filipino American high school students in the Los Angeles/Long Beach area for a program called PREP – and I am proud to say that this group is referenced in the study :). The contrasts with my Bay Area suburban middle class upbringing with their very urban one are quite stark. But we found plenty of common ground – music, art, etc. etc. Once those bonds were established we were able to go even deeper into passion and pride for our community, history, and education.

    Now, as a therapist/counselor for the past 5 years, in NY and now overseas, the youth empowerment principles that I apply to my work continue to be the most effective, powerful methods in my toolkit to this day.

    Don’t get me wrong – I believe people (young people included) SHOULD take personal responsibility in their role for all this – this is a very big part in the Youth Empowerment Model. But how can we possibly think they will be willing to join the dialogue and the work to improve this if we continue to imply that they are lazy, listless, materialistic, and eager to underachieve?

    May 4, 2012 | 2:38 pm

  60. Marketman says:

    Yvette, while like you, I am wary of one liners or quick conclusions, I think one of the key metrics for me is that students of Philippine descent in U.S. schools as a group, on average, appear to be lagging behind other Asian American or “ethnic” (if you can say that) groups if reports are to be believed. So regardless of reasons, results are that they are lagging, by whatever measure, grades, level of achievement, SAT’s, etc. metric. Of course, you could argue we measure OTHER indicators of success or accomplishment… I once heard through the grapevine that Stanford University several years ago noticed a serious under-representation of students with Filipino descent compared to the population of California, so it went out of its way to recruit Filipino American students, but after a few years, whether because of substandard performance, or other reason, the program was stopped. It’s anecdotal, and I know there are fabulous exceptions and very high achieving Filipinos and Filipino-Americans, but as a group, I would unfortunately have to tend to agree that they aren’t doing as well as other groups based on ethnicity… but I could certainly be convinced otherwise with the presentation of facts… it’s not an area I know that much about.

    May 4, 2012 | 4:55 pm

  61. Yvette says:

    Yes, I agree, we are largely underachieving compared to Asian American groups. What I tried to say in my previous comment is that the report actually points to several of the reasons why this is the case. Stanford and several schools like the University of California and California State University systems have tried to respond to this under representation by placing funding in efforts like the group I was a part of as a student. Running these programs is serious on the job training for us who did it on the ground – proposal writing, sleepless nights, driving vans, etc. This response is also largely due to the fact that Filipinos were taken off the affirmative action lists long before race was banned as an admissions-based criteria.

    Proposition 209 banning affirmative action admissions criteria in California as well as similar actions in other states have only made our numbers worse. Moreover, social stratification within the Asian American groups plays a factor. Despite being the second fastest growing Asian American group in the United States – second to the Chinese population – we lag behind economically compared to the other Asian Am groups. I’ll leave the affirmative action debate for another day – not enough hours to discuss these types of issues. ;) Just wanted to throw out more food for thought out there as we consider the pitfalls and successes of our diaspora.

    On another note – besides wanting to eventually work at an international school in the Philippines, I went overseas because I just needed a break from the state of public education and social welfare in the U.S. It is on an extended timeout. ;)

    May 4, 2012 | 6:25 pm

  62. Marketman says:

    Yvette, you might want to check the Beacon Academy out some day… :)

    May 4, 2012 | 7:26 pm

  63. Yvette says:

    Thank you po. I actually knew about Beacon well before I knew of its
    connection to this site. It was one of the first schools I sent feelers to along with the other 2 big schools there 3 years ago when I started my search. As with most intl school newbies, I learned quickly that the better schools require overseas experience. I am paying my dues at an IB world school now in Uzbekistan with my sights on “home” ;)

    May 4, 2012 | 9:07 pm

  64. Gej says:

    Thanks for this post MM!
    The comments on the need for excellent teachers reminded me of a story my high school teacher told me and his other former students some time ago. In his class, some of the students were complaining that their other teachers were lousy. What followed went more or less like this:
    Sensing a teaching moment, Sir ( I call him Sir to this day) asked the students, “Very good. What qualities should an excellent teacher possess? Let’s list them down.” Enthusiastically, the students rattled off … ” should speak English excellently, should be attentive to each student’s needs and abilities, should be able to inspire, should be highly intelligent, should communicate the noblest traditions of the school, and many more. Dutifully, Sir listed each quality the students enumerated, and repeated what they said….”very good, should speak English excellently … ”
    After the class had run out of every virtue they could possibly think of, he then asked them, “Where do you think these teachers can come from?”. After a brief silence, one of the students answered . ” it will be best if the teachers are also graduates of our school!”
    Then came Sir’s clincher. “Very good! It would be best if the teachers had also studied in this school ! Now … who among you plan to become teachers? Raise your hand!” A long silence followed. Not a single student raised his hand. ” If none of you want to become teachers yourselves, then how can you expect to have excellent teachers? . And why don’t you want to become teachers? Because the pay is too small…
    I remember this story vividly to this day .
    By the way this teacher of mine walked his talk. He did study in the same school under a scholarship, and spent his whole adult life as teacher – a legendary one- in the high school. He is now on his 60th year of teaching.
    I do not conclude of course that everyone should therefore become teachers. But this great problem can slowly be licked if each one would do his and her part within his area of ability and influence. I am certainly inspired by the fact that while your blog, MM, is mainly a food blog , many of the readers are actually helping, or have, at one point in the past, helped , in a large scale, or in modest ways, uplift education in our country. But so much remains to be done.

    May 4, 2012 | 10:20 pm

  65. chp says:

    I am a Korean. Let me share with my story(a middle class South Korean) little bit. I was born in 1967 in a southern region of Korean peninsula. Until 1973, No electricity in my house. US donated bread for my school lunch meal once a week. Since my father worked as a city hall officer I was relatively well fed compare to most of my friends. However my 2 brothers died from the cause still unknown to me since my parent declined to my question. But I almost sure the reason was the lack of enough health care money. Now I have 2 brothers and one sister. A total number of children including myself is 6. Me and my youngest brother has only one child. The other brother and my sister has 2 kids. This is an average composition of South Korean family size. They all finished college education. Two of them, Top schools in Korea. By 1990 all my brothers were offered by a job by Korean companies which now claimed as global companies.

    How they achieve the development in such a short time period? Well, we had a strong leader, Park and his elite group.However,I believe most achievement was a result of EDUCATION. A devoted, dedicated and passionated sacrifice from the PARENTS.

    Koreans are obsessive with their child’s education. Why? They feel EDUCATION is SURVIVAL.
    Among China, Korea and Japan, Korea had a war 900 times with their neighbors during the history. And still competing in industries massively. And South Korea is being threated by its own people, the North group. I was focused on to study Korean History and world history during elementary, and secondary schools to PASS college examination. They teach HISTORY heavily. They are alerted by what happened to their parents just half a century ago. They teach Jews and palestins. They teach How EU economy is doing now? They teach Why American WASP chose a half Black as their leader. Once people really wants to survive, they will start look into the way.

    May 5, 2012 | 6:43 am

  66. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    @ J – That might be a point of contention. I know foreign medical grads from the PI and have yet to succesfully pass their boards here have settled for jobs instead of becoming doctors. On the other end I was suprised to see an older Filipino gentleman bussing tables at YVR and noticed his class ring – engineering.

    As children may see, they understand that their parents may have been ‘high achievers’ and professionals. But the risk is as one immigrates to a new home. Those same opportunities may not always pan out. Sometimes other priorities take over. The children realize, and perhaps to their parents dismay, that it can be ok to not be as educated and not to be a professional. As long as the basics are met and that there’s a little extra to spend on luxuries.

    May 5, 2012 | 1:59 pm

  67. MP says:

    Hi Crabbychef, thanks for the info. I just asked a friend to hook me up with an NGO that provides adult literacy courses to out-of-school youth. I hope to work with them until I get enough credentials to be able to teach at the basic educ level (I prefer grade or middle school).

    May 6, 2012 | 12:51 pm

  68. ConnieC says:

    After a dismal report on the state of our National Diagnostic Test, here is something to be positive about:


    But perhaps we as a people get complacent too soon and rest on laurels too quickly. The country needs to stay on course and hopefully chip off the overwhelming problems that plague the country, slowly but surely. We can not rely too heavily on foreign remittances, service employment and assembly plants that have no technology transfer. Why, we can’t even assemble our own transistor radio. Building more elementary and high schools is good but we need teachers! teachers! teachers! Consider them a national treasure.

    We also need to lobby our lawmakers to PASS THE REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH ACT NOW!!!! or efforts to reduce poverty will come to naught.

    May 7, 2012 | 11:25 pm

  69. Lani says:

    This is really very alarming.

    May 9, 2012 | 9:20 pm

  70. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    Just don’t want to let this go. It’s too much of an interesting subject on both sides of the Pacific. Indeed Connie C. For Fil-Ams, the one thing I notice is the passive resistance to assimilation. They seem to cling to an immigrant identity.

    May 14, 2012 | 3:27 am

  71. Leo Salinel says:

    I think it’s a cultural thing. I’ve noticed that Filipinos in the USA would rather hang out with blacks and Chicanos than with fellow Asians. Not to be racist but hanging out with the low-waist, hiphop blacks instead of the entrepreneurial and intellectually-oriented fellow Asians of ours (Indians, Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, etc.) causes us not to be as achieving as other Asians. Here in the Philippines (issues such as overcrowded classrooms, budget shortfalls, and underqualified teachers aside), people would much rather watch inane, mind-numbing variety shows featuring Vice Ganda and chismis talk shows featuring Kris Aquino rather than substantial fare, such as documentaries. It seems we can’t stand the thought of becoming “boring” even if therein lies our salvation. We would rather be “maporma” and collect iPads, iPhones, oversized headphones, etc. rather than invest in mutual funds, study the financial markets, read books. We would rather be “biritera” singers and NBA wannabe basketball players instead of geeky scientists and engineers and technicians wearing short-sleeved white collar shirts and neckties and boring gray pants and hardhats like the Germans and the Japanese. And finally, we are afraid of Holy Mother Church, which we wouldn’t be if we only loved to research and study history, after which we would realize that Holy Mother Church isn’t necessarily what we thought she was.

    May 7, 2013 | 2:16 pm


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