Philippines - Preprimary & Primary Education
PREPRIMARY & PRIMARY EDUCATION
Preprimary and primary educational matters are handled by the Bureau of Elementary Education (BEE), under DECS. Preprimary is available in the Philippines for children below the age of six. From age three to five, students first attend nursery school, and then they attend kindergarten. Most private schools offer these programs, particularly in religious schools. Several Montessori schools are available. The Philippine Education for All Assessment Report 2000, an independent evaluation of the education system from 1991 to 2000, stated that the preprimary services had reached only 19.5 percent of the 11.5 million children aged zero to six.
There was, however, an 82 percent increase in the number of public day-care centers from 1993 to 1999. This translates to 32,787 centers. These constructed daycare centers had been able to reach less than half of the 3.2 million who had to have preprimary care by the year 2000.
Six years of primary education is compulsory and is provided free of charge in public schools. In 1998, almost 30 percent of grade 1 entry-age children entered school, an increase of 10 percent since the equivalent rate in 1990 was 20 percent.
The Philippine Education for All Assessment Report of 2000 also stated that a "huge population of children were either over-aged or under-aged for grade one." Families were postponing the education of young children as girls were often asked to take care of younger siblings, and together with boys, help in livelihood.
The number one priority of BEE has been to make primary education accessible for all qualified students. This goal has been met successfully. Some 95 percent of children from ages six to twelve attend primary school. The Early Childhood Development Project (ECDP) is a six-year (1998-2004) joint project of three departments: DECS, the Department of Health, and the Department of Social Welfare. The program, aimed at children under six, shares responsibility for preparing a child for elementary education by providing an eight-week refresher course for grade one entrants in their first two-month-stay in school.
For the school year 2000-2001, DECS projects that 12.75 million students will enroll in primary school. In 1992-1993, there were 34,944 schools, of these 1,974 were private. There were 39,342 elementary schools in 1999-2000, a total of 3,555 of which were private schools serving 7.17 percent of the student body. The gross teacher-pupil ratio was 1:34. The percentage of students passing the NEAT was 76.54 percent.
From 1992 to 2000, the participation rate increased from 85.21 percent to 96.95 percent. Unfortunately dropout rates for the same years also increased from 6.65 percent to 9.38 percent. As of 2000, a total of 4,710 barangays (similar to communities) did not have an elementary school. Performance indicators, key indicators computed to evaluate the system's performance at various levels, show that participation rate has improved from 85.21 percent in 1992-1993 to 96.95 percent in 1999-2000. Completion rate for these same years increased from 66.59 percent to 68.06 percent.
The National Elementary Aptitude Test (NEAT) was first taken by primary students during the 1993-1994 school year, with 55 percent of students passing (50 percent or higher). By 1998-1999, the passing rate was 73.21 percent.
The main mission of the Bureau of Elementary Education is to provide access, progress, and quality in primary education. This body not only formulates key programs but also implements and supervises the varied projects that will eventually enable every citizen "to acquire basic preparation that will make him an enlightened, disciplined, nationalistic, self-reliant, God-loving, creative, versatile, and productive member of the national community." Filipino is used to teach such subjects as Work Education, Physical Education, Social Studies, Health Education, and Character Education. English is used in all mathematics and science classes.
For the school year 2000-2001, BEE had a number of projects and programs: the Multigrade Program in Philippine Education (MPPE) was designed to improve access to and provide quality elementary education through the opening of complete multigrade classes and completion of incomplete schools in remote barangays. MPPE projects included Multigrade Demo Schools Projects (MDSP), Pupil Learning Enhancement Program (PLEP), Little Red School House Project (LRSP), and the Integrated Curriculum for Multigrade Classes (IC-MG).
One of the projects was called the Early Childhood Development Project (ECDP). It outlined the broad policy directions for the State to pursue for Filipino children under six-years-old.
The Preschool Service Contracting Program was another program used by BEE. Preschool classes were organized in the 5th and 6th municipalities and urban poor areas, and were provided preschool experiences for 6 months by private preschool providers.
The SPED Personnel Enhancement Program offered short term summer/semester courses, seminar or training workshops, and national conferences done year round. This program was primarily aimed at honing the capabilities of regular and SPED teachers, administrators, supervisors, and other service providers.
The Resource Materials Development for Children with Special Needs (CSNs) was another important project. It dealt with the development and production of various resource and instructional materials, which included textbooks in braille and in large print, Handbook on Inclusive Education, Reference or Guide Materials for Teachers of Children with Learning Disabilities, Learning Competencies for the Gifted in Grades one to three, and Enrichment materials in six learning areas including Computer Education.
Another BEE program was called the Early Intervention Program for Children with Disabilities. This program focused on the training of SPED teachers and social workers as facilitators to provide parents and other community volunteers with knowledge and skills on educational intervention that should be given to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers under age 6 who are disabled or those with developmental delays.
Standards for Quality Elementary Education (SQEE) was another program utilized by BEE. It generated competency standards for the workforce in all levels of elementary education.
In response to the Social Reform Agenda (SRA) of the Philippine government, funded in part by loans from the World Bank, the Third Elementary Education Program (TEEP) was created. According to the World Bank (WB), TEEP would address areas of weakness in the primary education system such as decentralization of authority to local government units, increase the participation rate from nongovernmental organizations such as parents' associations, private business, and the community at large. The Philippines has not had a strong history of parental associations in the educational system set-up. Despite the great start of this project, the WB stated that caution was needed since the project had a "high-risk, high-reward approach." The BEE cited the main objectives of TEEP as being quality education, capacity for change, and maximizing community and local government roles.
The Social Reform Agenda of the Philippine Government had initially targeted twenty under-served provinces for TEEP, while the Presidential Commission to Fight Poverty added six more. Poverty in these provinces is more acute, with 60 percent of the population below the poverty level. The project will be implemented in 3 batches: Batch 1 (2000-2003), six pilot provinces, namely Ifugao, Benguet, Antique, Guimaras, Agusan del Sur, and Surigao del Sur; Batch 2 (2003-2006), eight provinces, namely Romblon, Masbate, Negros Oriental, Leyte, Biliran, Zamboanga del Sur, and North Cotabato; and Batch 3 (2000-2006), twelve provinces, namely, Abra, Mt. Province, Kalinga Apayao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao, Batanes, Aurora, Capiz, Eastern Samar, and Basilan.
The TEEP's loan of funds from the World Bank (WB) was approved by its board in November 1996 and had a project span date starting July 2, 1997, until June 30, 2004. In 1998, the Quality Assurance Group Risk of the WB rated the project's progress as "non-risky" and the Operations Evaluation Department's Quality at Entry Rating was "highly satisfactory." Both its latest Development Objectives Supervision Rating and Latest Implementation Progress Supervision Rating were rated "satisfactory."
While 90 percent of Filipinos are Christian (83 percent Catholic), 5 percent of the population is Muslim (Moslem). The Muslim population is concentrated in the Southern island of Mindanao. The Mindanao Basic Education Development Project, which lasts from 2000 to 2007, is particularly geared to provide an educational system suited to the diverse culture and needs of the children and youth learners in Mindanao. English and Filipino are used as the media of instruction for primary school, beginning with the first grade. The local vernacular may be used as an auxiliary language of instruction, but must be used only when neither English nor Filipino could be used for full comprehension of certain concepts.