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Saving Philippine education


OF the original members of the Philippine Military Acade-my�s class of 2004, only 28 percent were able to graduate. For Class 2005, the Academy had to undertake two separate recruitment examinations due to very low passing rate.

This sorry plight of the country�s premier military school is also plaguing many of our leading state and private college institutions. For several years now, they have been contending with a pool of high school graduates who are products of poor education.

A major factor that brought us to the under-education of the Filipino has been the government�s continued under-investment in education. The Philippines spends only about $138 per pupil compared to $1,582 in Singapore, $3,728 in Japan, and $852 in Thailand.

With its limited and slashed funding under the 2005 budget, the Department of Education can only build 6,012 new classrooms and hire 10,000 teachers this year. This barely scratches the terrible shortage of 50,000 classrooms and 27,000 teachers, not to mention millions of books and desks.

Underinvestment in education is also taking its toll on the number of students and quality of education. Today, one in three Filipino students drops out by sixth grade; more than half drop out before finishing high school.

Poverty keeps many Filipinos away from the classrooms. But give them free education and they will grab it. Free elementary and high school education has expanded our number of students over the past 15 years. Sadly, the increasing number of students did not necessarily mean better quality of education.

Facilities are decaying. Some students graduate from high school without even peering through a microscope. Worse, good Filipino teachers are leaving for abroad or moving other higher paying jobs.

The state of Philippine education is close to crisis. Unless we act fast and resolutely, our slide to mediocrity will be unstoppable. Email: edgardo_angara@hotmail .com

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