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Monday, January 31, 2011

Rationale of Mother Tongue-Based Multi-lingual Education

By:  Gilbert M. Forbes
DepEd Quezon

Mother tongue instruction generally refers to the use of the learners’ mother tongue as the medium of instruction. Additionally, it can refer to the mother tongue as a subject of instruction. It is considered to be an important  component of quality education, particularly in the early years. The expert view is that mother tongue instruction should cover both the teaching  of and the teaching through this language.

The term ‘mother tongue’, though widely used, may refer to several different situations. Definitions often include the following elements: the language(s) that one has learnt first; the language(s) one identifies with or is identified as a native speaker of by others; the language(s) one knows best and the language(s) one uses most. ‘Mother tongue’ may also be referred to as ‘primary’ or ‘first language’. The term ‘mother tongue’ is commonly used in policy statements and in the general discourse on educational issues. It is retained in this document for that reason, although it is to be noted that the use of the term ‘mother tongue’ often fails to discriminate between all the variants of a language used by a native speaker, ranging from hinterland varieties to urban-based standard languages used as school mother tongue.A child’s earliest first-hand experiences in native speech do not necessarily correspond to the formal school version of the so-called mother tongue.

It is an obvious yet not generally recognized truism that learning in a language which is not one’s own provides a double set of challenges, not only is there the challenge of learning a new language but also that of learning new knowledge contained in that language. These challenges may be further exacerbated in the case of certain groups are already in situations of educational risk or stress such as illiterates, minorities and refugees. Gender considerations cross cut these situations of educational risk, for girls and women may be in a particularly disadvantaged position. In most traditional societies, it is the girls and women who tend to be monolingual, being less exposed either through schooling, salaried labour, or migration to the national language, than their sons, brothers or husbands.

Studies have shown that, in many cases, instruction in the mother tongue is beneficial to language competencies in the first language, achievement in other subject areas, and second language learning.


Why Mother-Tongue Based Multi-lingual Education (MTBMLE) in the Philippines?

The lessons and findings of various local initiatives and international studies in basic education have validated the superiority of the use of the learners mother tongue or first language in improving learning outcomes and promoting Education for All (AFA).

DepEd Order No. 74, s. 2009 further explained that the preponderance of local and international research consistent with the Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda (BESRA) recommendations affirms the benefits and relevance of MLE.  Notable empirical studies like the Lingua Project and Lubuagan First Language Component show that: 
  • First, learners learn to read more quickly when in their first language
  • Second, pupils who have learned to read and write in their first language, learn to speak, read and write in a second language and third language more quickly than those who are taught in the second or third language;
  • Third, in terms of cognitive development and its effect in other academic areas, pupils taught to write in their first language acquire such competencies more quickly.  
Relatedly, the study of DepEd Region IV-B (MIMAROPA) entitled; "Double Exposure in Mathematics:  A Glimpse of Mother- Tongue First" has provided the local validation of the fundamental observation that top performing countries in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Studies(TIMSS), are those that teach and test students in Science and Math in their own language.

You may also like this highly related article.  Click to read Towards the Universal Primary Education, Why languages is important?

Materials courtesy of Multilingual Education Philippines

(Mr. Forbes had his Bachelors Degree and MA in Educational Management (CAR) from the Philippine Normal University.  A campus paper adviser and trainer for 13 years.  Currently, he is a school principal in one of the central schools in the Division of Quezon.)

Reforms First or K+12 Means Nothing

By Ricardo Ma. Nolasco, Ph.D.
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Posted date: October 16, 2010.  Reposted by Joe Padre October 18, 2010 at http://mlephil.wordpress.com



MANILA, Philippines—The results of the 2008 Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS) are finally out. As expected, there are good tidings as well as bad. Among Filipinos between 10 and 64 years old, the ability to read, write and compute went up from 84.1 percent in 2003 to 86.5 percent in 2008. Comprehension skills likewise increased from 66 to 70 percent.

This means that the number of those who cannot compute went down slightly from 16 percent in 2003 to 14 percent in 2008. The percentage of those who cannot understand what they read went down from 34 to 30 after five years. This is the good news.

The bad news is that the number of individuals lacking in counting and comprehension skills actually grew. This was due to a higher population base of 67 million in 2008 compared to only 57.6 million for 2003. Translated into absolute figures, non-numerate Filipinos in 2008 stood at 9.1 million, which was almost the same as in 2003. Those who lack comprehension abilities increased from 19.6 million in 2003 to 20.1 million individuals in 2008.

Computation and comprehension skills were tested in the FLEMMS survey through a self-administered questionnaire accomplished by a sample of around 70,000 individuals throughout the country.

The questions for testing counting ability were as follows:

If a kilo of rice costs P25, how much will two kilos cost?

If a kilo of sugar costs P38, how much will half a kilo cost?

Those who answered these questions correctly were classified as functionally literate at level 2.
To test comprehension ability, respondents were made to read the following paragraph in English or its version in 26 Philippine languages:

“The depletion of our forests is one of the most serious environmental problems of the Philippines. It causes frequent floods and loss of fertile soil. Crops and property are destroyed and many lives are lost because of frequent floods.”

Based on the paragraph you read, what are the effects of forest depletion?

Those who answered this question correctly were classified as functionally literate at level 3. In the survey, high school graduates or those with higher education were also considered functionally literate at level 4.

How could so many people fail to answer such simple problems in arithmetic and comprehension? These are the kind of issues in education that people would like to see the Aquino administration solve. Any plan to extend the educational cycle from the present 10 years to the internationally accepted standard of 12 years must be clearly shown to relate directly with fundamental issues, like improving learning outcomes, reducing the drop-out rates, low-quality textbooks, poor teaching methods and lack of classrooms.

This is the reason why some people like former Education Undersecretary Abraham Felipe doubt that lengthening the education cycle from 10 years to 12 years (K+ 12) is the right first step in fixing our education woes. He reminds us that in 1976, a Department of Education study, called the Survey of Outcomes of Elementary Education (Soutele), reported that Grade 6 pupils as measured by achievement tests knew just a little bit more than Grade 5 pupils. Thirty-four years after Soutele, this situation has shown no remarkable improvement. Dr. Felipe warns that if the K+ 12 plan were hastily adopted, pretty soon the problem would be how to cut short a poor quality 12-year cycle.

The point that is sorely missed about the K+ 12 plan is that it can only work if other reforms in the basic education reform agenda are also put in place and implemented. One of these is mother tongue-based multilingual education which became the fundamental education policy since July 14, 2009 but has not been mentioned at all by President Aquino.

Another initiative that will surely go a long way is improving the quality of research, especially in education. It is recognized worldwide that evidence-based or research-based policy environment is the only means to rationally and scientifically approach problems and issues in all fields of inquiry.

The Fund for Assistance to Private Education (FAPE)—Philippine Education Assistance Committee has spearheaded the setting up of an online Philippine Education Research Journal (PERJ) to promote and encourage original empirical studies on education. The goal is that scientific-based research on education, supported by systematically collected data and the use of powerful quantitative tools, can give a better picture of the educational realities in the country. PERJ aims to help our country’s lawmakers and education planners in charting the course of Philippine education and in improving the country’s school system.

FAPE executive director Carol C. Porio says that PERJ (http://www.perj.org) is a freely accessible, peer-reviewed, scientific online publication that reports and discusses important educational issues affecting the Philippines. PERJ publishes original empirical studies or researches that address substantively significant issues in theory and/or practice, with the use of rigorous methods. Its scope also includes such areas as human development, human capital formation, formal and informal education, and lifelong learning. PERJ maintains a battery of 18 editorial consultants from a wide range of disciplines, known and respected in the academic world.

Ricardo Ma. Nolasco (rnolasco_upmin@yahoo.com) is an associate professor in linguistics in UP Diliman.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Professional Characteristics Expected of a Teacher

Gilbert M. Forbes
DepEd QUEZON 

Principals and the public want ideal characteristics from their teachers which ideally are primary components of well- performing schools.  Accept it or not, but teachers are the heart of education given their gargantuan roles.  To have good and better teachers equate to good and better quality learning experiences among learners even in the most unparallel situations.  It could not be substituted by flashy school buildings and facilities equipped with state of the art equipments.  The very reason why expensive private schools insure that they employ highly qualified teaching staff is to ensure that they are offering the best education for their clients.

What more in our public schools, do children of poor fellow country men deserve quality education if not at par is at least comparable to their rich counterparts?  In so doing, school principals, have seen ten major characteristics that their fellow teachers should posses.  Many of these if not all are incorporated in the professional and personal characteristics of the Performance Appraisal System for Teachers.
  • Decisiveness.  Acts immediately on needs, request in accordance with the prescribed rules and regulations and accepted norms of conduct and behavior.  In this regard, he/she is not causing delay in any endeavor.
  • Honesty and Integrity.  He/she demonstrates truthfulness, candidness, uprightness and freedom from deceit.  Just a mere glance of him already commands an inspiration, respect and admiration.
  • Dedication and Commitment. His commitment and dedication to make learning and continuously strive for improvement is evident.  He renders service above the regular functions and even beyond the regular time.
  • Initiative and Resourcefulness.  Starts action, projects and performs task without being told and supervised.  It does equate with strong sensitivity to make every thing spec and span.
  • Courtesy.  He shows polite and thoughtful behavior toward the public, clientele, and supervisor-subordinate relationship into work situations.  This is evident most in a non-populist or non-popular leadership style of immediate superiors or principal.
  • Compassion. Integrates genuine concern for pupils and students, colleagues, office clientele, and supervisor-subordinate relationship into work situations.  The Performance Appraisal System for Teachers calls it Human Relations.
  •  Diligence.  He isn’t merely committed and dedicated but diligent in his/her dealings with the learners.  For the fast and gifted learners, the ability to make learning highly informative, interesting and challenging; for the average learners equally interesting and challenging; and for the mentally challenged learners, encouraging, captivating, and fun.  A diligent teacher doesn’t simply surrenders to whatever kind of learner she might have.
  •  Wisdom.  A teacher, who is full of wit as a result of full understanding of the teaching learning process, indeed is a feather in the cap of the institution of learning she belongs.  Wisdom is gained not only from continuing professional development but more importantly from daily experiences and dealings.
  • Stress Tolerance.  stability of performance under pressure or opposition
  •   Fairness and Justice.  conforms to usual principles of law, is just and unbiased
  • Frugality and Simplicity.  Modestly frugal enough embracing the life of simplicity.  As a teacher, he/she is wise enough to understand the golden purpose of delaying gratification.  The thought of financially independent future while performing the respected responsibilities of a being a teacher borne out of love is among his/her priorities.
Teachers as the bearer of knowledge have all the capacities to overcome all challenges that may beset them.  As an author says, “teacher affects eternity” and some may just never know how.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Why Living a Simple Life Style

By Gilbert M. Forbes

The reasons behind almost all of our financial difficulties are not because our income isn’t enough.  The truth is we always spend more than what we earn.  Looking at other people who receive less than what we receive and yet they survive and remains descent in their lives is the clue.  Without their knowing, these people live simply and there is no reason that we couldn’t do the same even if we earn more than the average.  Yet, it is the best thing that we could and should do.  Here are the reasons why.
  1. When you are living a simple life style, you desire simple things.
  2. You only buy things that you need and not the things you want.
  3. You are helping and doing the environment a favor of not over-using its already meager resources.
  4. You spend less and save more.
  5. You are miles away from being corrupt thus help limit if not totally eradicate corruption.
  6. You have more time for the family because you don’t work for more.
  7. You don’t worry a lot and instead have more energies building relationships with the family and others.
  8. Since you’re not worried, you’re not either problematic and stress thus quality of work is maximized and always expected from you.
  9. You are healthy and could live longer than the average.
  10. You’re savings accumulate to the point that you already have millions without you noticing it.  (One should know how to save and invest properly.  Remember that ordinary savings only offer an average of 3% interest rate, time deposit 6%, while mutual investments and treasury bills 8-12% and more!)
  11. You’ll have enough resources to finance your later needs e.g., medicines, medical expenses and relatives will no longer worry for you.  (When we get older, it is a fact that our body our health starts to deteriorate particularly when we are not ordinarily health conscious as few others may do.  It will need more nutritious foods, medical care, and all these are expensive!  Imagine if you have not prepared yourself for it.  Good if we die earlier and at an instant.  God said that we should always be ready, not only for death but for all varying circumstances that we could have control of.)
  12. As Bo Sanches loves to put it in his numerous writings and speaking engagements, you will get rich and have the ability to help and give more particularly God’s work.  
When you get rich, you could live on the remaining 10% and yet still live a comfortable life style while giving the fat and remaining 90% to God and the poor, a testament that you have been a good steward.

Isn’t it wonderful!  Come to think of it!

Friday, January 21, 2011

'Be Solemn and Austere on 2011 Graduation Exercises' - DepEd


Just like in its previous pronouncement over the years, DepEd has emphasizes austerity measures and solemnity in the holding of graduation exercises as the school year ends.

In a department order released on January 17, 2011, DepEd Order No. 4, s. 2011, reminded schools of DepEd Order No. 8, s. 2005  which states that school heads, teachers and other DepEd personnel are not allowed any graduation fees or any kind of contribution for graduation rites.  PTA may solicit voluntary contributions from each members but warn of teachers and school head involvement in the collection process.  It furthers that the graduation rites should be conducted in an appropriate solemn ceremony befitting the graduating students and parents and shall not be used as a venue for political forum.

The graduation rites shall be scheduled any day between April 1- 7, 2011 as corrected by DepEd Order No. 7, 2011 (Change in DepEd Order No. 4, s. 2011 which earlier dated it March 24- 28)  focusing on the them “The Graduate:  A Partner Towards Transformational Society, An Answer to Societal Changes” (Ang Mga Magsisipagtapos:  Kaagapay Tungo sa Pagbabagong Anyo ng Lipunan, Tugon sa Hamon ng Sambayanan).

DepEd bats for stakeholders support for the Success of Early Registration Day

To ensure the success of the Early Registration Day for pre-scholers or kindergartens, grade one and first year high school pupils and students, schools nationwide are enjoined to work with parents, local barangay officials, other stakeholders, pupils and students for support.

DepEd by virtue of DepEd Order No. 2, s. 2011, declares January 29 as Early Registration Day in public schools with the theme “Makapag-aral ay Karapatan Mo, Magpalista Ngayong Enero,”  primarily aimed at achieving universal participation in basic education.

The program sets four major objectives thus seeking the assistance of all stakeholders from parents and local officials from the barangay level onwards.  These include  reaching out all 5 and 6-year olds children and ensure their enrolment next SY 2011-2012, to guarantee the enrollment of all prospective grade six graduates in their preferred high schools, to anticipate potential resource needs in time for the opening of classes on June, and the last, to support schools in their efforts of providing education intervention to prevent children and youth from dropping out from school.

Parents and Barangay Councils nationwide could help not only in information dessimination campaign but more importantly in providing schools correct data and helping them identify, find and encourages all school-age populace to be in school.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Edukasyon Bilang Daan sa Pagwawasto sa Kamalian ng Nakalipas

Ni Gilbert M. Forbes
DepEd Quezon, CALABARZON
 
Naalala ko ang isang awitin noong early eighties na "Saan Ako Nagkamali? " na maaaring iangkop natin ngayong sa nangyayari sa ating bansa. Pero makailang ulit ko mang isipin at wariin ang bawat sirkulo ng mga pangyayari, isa lamang ang nakikita kong dahilan. At ito ay nakaugat sa ating kasaysayan at sa mga kalipunan ng iba't-ibang salik na nakaugat sa isang neokolonyal na pananaw at komplikadong pagpapahalaga at mga batayang kultural at moral.

Sinubukan kung ihambing ang karanasang pambansa sa mga karatig kabansa sa Asya na tulad ng Vietnam na dahan-dahan nang pumapaimbulog ang ekonomiya at ilang panahon na lamang ay maaari nang maunahan ang ating bansa, Malaysia na konti lamang ang agwat sa atin kung GNP ang pag-uusapan ngunit higit pa ring nauuna sapagkat mas kakaunti ang kanilang populasyon, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, at Japan . . . . . . . . at aking nakita ang mga sumusunod na dahilan:

Una, ang kawalan nang tuluy-tuloy na programang pampulitika at ekonomiya na di tulad ng Singapore , Malaysia , South Korea, at Japan . Nitong huling dalawang dekada, nakita ang Vietnam sa ganito ring kalalagayan na nagbunga naman nang maganda nang pasimulan nito ang Doi Moi noong huling bahagi ng dekada otsenta. Samantala, ang Singapore naman ay pinamahalaan ng kamay na bakal ng dati nitong Prime Minister na si Lee Kwan Yeow samantalang ang South Korea at Japan naman ay may pamahalaang
ginabayan ng Martial Plan at biniyayaan pa ng saganang pamumuhunan at kapital mula sa Amerika.

Pangalawa, ang lipunan ng Thailand , Malaysia at Japan ay sumusuporta sa sistemang Monarkiyal na bagamat may limitadong kapangyarihan sa bagong kaayusan ay s'ya namang nagsisilbing bigkis at kaisahan ng mga mamamayan. Ang ating bansa ay wala at watak-watak.

Pangatlo, ang mga bansang South Korea , Vietnam at Japan ay dumanas ng ibayong kasalatang sanhi ng digmaan samantalang ang Pilipinas ay wala sa kalingkingan ng kanilang dinanas. Maitatanong natin ito sa ating mga ninununo na dumanas ng digmaan. Ang Vietnam kaiba sa Pilipinas ay may malalim na suliraning peyudal at Agraryo na higit pa sa dinanas ng Pilipinas.

Pang-apat, maliban sa Pilipinas ang mga bansang tulad ng Thailand , Malaysia , Taiwan , South Korea at Japan ay hindi napailalim sa di patas na kasunduang pangkalakalan at ekonomiya. Sa katunayan, samantalang ang Japan ay isang kaaway noong ikalawang digmaang pandaigdig ay tumanggap pa rin ito ng maalab at malabis na mga pamumuhunan sa US . Ganun din ang South Korea at Taiwan samantalang ang Pilipinas ay ano ang naging pakinabang.

Panglima, ang mga bansang ito ay hindi napailalim sa mapanlinlang na edukasyong Amerikano na pinalala pa ng marami sa kanyang mga pensyonado maliban marahil sa ilan. At ano ang naging papel ng Pilipinas sa loob ng mahabang panahon? Tagatangkilik ng kanyang glamorosong pamumuhay at kultura hindi bat ipinangalandakan pa ng burgesya. Hindi industriya ang pinaunlad ng US sa Pilipinas kundi ang mga base militar at pang-ekonomiyang interes nito na naging dahilan ng lubusang pagkabansot at paggapang ng progreso nito sa pakikipagsabwatan ng mga panginoong maylupa, kapitalista at pulitiko na nakinabang sa kaayusan ng mga panahong iyon.

Masahol pa sa sistemang Pranses sa Vietnam bago magwakas ang dekada 50 o sa sistemang Ingles sa India, Singapore at Malaysia . Kung ang ekonomiya ng South Korea , Taiwan at Japan ay nakinabang sa Cold War, ang Pilipinas ay minalas na hindi man lamang maambunan ng puhunan at teknolohiyang Amerikano.

Pang-anim, ang mga bansang nabanggit maliban sa Pilipinas ay pumailalim sa Repormang Agraryo sa tulong o suporta ng kani-kanilang dating kolonisador maliban marahil sa Vietnam. Dahil dito, ang pag-unlad ng sektor ng Agrikultura ang naging batayan ng Industriyalisasyon.

Pampito, maliban sa Vietnam , halos lahat ay hindi dumanas ng isang matagalang pag-aalsa ng dulong kaliwang grupo o insurgency at kaliwa't-kanang kudeta ng dulong kanan.

Pangwalo, ang South Korea , Singapore at Japan ay may mga napakahuhusay na sistema ng edukasyon na maigting at matibay na sinusuportahan ng estado at mamamayan nito. Ang Pilipinas at mamamayan nito ay ano? Sa kabila ng magagandang programang pang-edukasyon, bansot pa rin dahil sa lisyang pagpapatupad nito sa antas ng paaralan.  Ang dahilan, maluwag na liderato sa paaralan, kanya-kanyang interpretasyon tulad ng bilingual education, at malabnaw na pakikisangkot at pagtupad sa tungkulin ng mga guro noon na maihahalintulad din sa ngayon.   (Ang Basic Education Act ay naipasa lamang noong 2002)

Pangsiyam ang mga bansang nabanggit ay may malalim na pagkakakilanlan, ang Pilipinas ay halos maghingalo. Napakabilis nating umangkop sa ugali at kulturang kanluranin ngunit napakabagal nating matanggap at matutunan ang sekreto sa likod ng kanilang kultura at tinitingalang  kaunlaran ng kanluran. Naitatanong ba ng mga Doña Victorina ng makabagong panahon ang mga pinagdaanan nilang unos bago nila narrating ang kasalukuyan nilang kalgayan?

Pangsampu, ang mga batayang pagpapahalaga at kultura ng mga kalapit bansa ay hindi nabansot at nasira ng kulturang kanluranin bagkos pinalakas pa at pinayaman nito.  Binigyan tayo ng pagkakataong maging tanging Kristiyanong bansa sa Asya pero tulad ng inihihimatong ni Pablo sa kanyang mga sulat, tayo’y nananatiling Sanggol sa pananampalataya!  Napakalaking pagkakataon sana at kalakasan ang maidudulot ng pananampalataya sa ating buhay pero ano’t bansot pa rin ito?

Maliwanag na ang kasaysayan ng ating bansa ay nagpapahiwatig ng mga pagkakamaling naging dulot ng kolonyalismo. Kakatwang aral ang ating natamo at sa loob lamang ng maikling panahon ay lumason ng lubusan sa ating pagkakakilanlan at mga pagpapahalaga. Lubhang naging mapanira ang epekto nito at hanggang ngayon ay nahihirapan tayong iwasto.  Sa kasalukuyan, maging moralidad ay nanganganib dahil sa kaway ng materyalismo at kulturang hip hop na pinangangalandakan ng iresponsableng media na ang tanging layunin ay magkamal ng kita.

Sa lahat ng ito, maliwanag na EDUKASYON ang isang epektibong pamamaraan kung paano ito maiwawasto. Kung edukasyon ang ginamit ng Imperyalistang US upang maging malabnaw ang ating pambansang kaisahan at pagpapahalaga, ito rin ang matibay na kasagutan upang tayo ay makaalpas sa angkla ng mapanirang bunga ng tuwiran at di-tuwirang kolonisasyon. Kung hindi ito maaagapan ay lalo itong magdudulot upang mangapa ang susunod na salinlahi sa dilim at lambong na dulot ng globalisasyon.


Balik Tanaw sa Buhay at Edukasyon Noon

Naaalala ko tuloy ang kasimplehan ng aming buhay sa kanayunan dito sa aming lalawigan mula noong elementarya hanggang sa makatapos ako sa pamantasan. Ni hindi sa hinagap ay darating ang ganitong panahon ng makabagong teknolohiya. Napakasimple ng buhay. Kapag walang pasok, kusa kaming gumigising upang tumulong sa mga gawaing bukid. Hindi noon uso ang pera. Maraming pananim sa bakuran. Noon, ang awiting ‘Bahay Kubo’ ay totoo. Kahit ang palayan ay sagana sa mga hayop na maaaring hulihin, iluto at kainin na tulad ng dalag, hito, palaka maging hipon at talangka subalit makalipas lamang ang kalahating dekada ay naglaho ang mga ito dahil sa paggamit ng mga nakakamatay na pestisidyo at abuno.

Naaalala ko tuloy kung paano kami tinuruan sa paaralan ng pagbasa at pagbilang. Sapat na noon ang makabasa at bumilang kahit walang kakayahang umunawa. Patakaran noon ang mass promotion sa pampublikong paaralan. Hindi kataka-taka na ang mga batang average at above average noon ay mga stount supporters ng pamahalaan sa kabila ng katotohanang kami ay naninirahan sa lugar na balwarte noon ng armadong pakikibaka ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas.

“At the young age in 1986 before the snap election, we were all supporters and believers of Marcos.”Iminulat kami sa Bagong Lipunan at sa mga naging magagandang dulot nito ngunit naging bulag sa katotohanan at negatibong epekto ng diktadurya. Kami ang mga tinatawag na Martial Law babies. 

Nang tumuntong sa sekondarya ay ganun din. Pinag-aralan namin ang napakahuhusay na obra na tulad ng Florante at Laura, Noli Me Tangere at El Filibusterismo ngunit hindi naiugnay ng aming mga guro ang katuturan ng mga ito sa katotohanan ng buhay, kaayusang panlipunan at katuturan ng paglikha nito, anupat kung bakit ito naging mga obra. Sa pamantasan ko na lamang nalaman nang lubusan na si Maria Clara pala ay anak ni Padre Damaso at si Pari Salvi ay may pagnanasa kay Maria Clara na sa huli ay naging dahilan ng pagpapatiwakal nito.  Sa hindi malamang kadahilanan, hindi lubos na nabigyan ng kritikal na pagdulog ang mga simbolismo sa mga nabanggit na nobela sampu ng mga mahahalagang pangyayari sa Kasaysayan ng Pilipinas at Pandaigdig na bahagi noon ng kurikulum at ng pagtuturo mismo.

Salamat na lamang at sa panahon ng aking pag-aaral sa Pamantasan ay hindi ako namalagi sa apat na sulok ng silid-aralan na tulad ng mga tradisyunal na estudyante na s'yang ipinagpipilitan ng mga guro noon. Ipinasya kong maging kabahagi ng isang progresibong grupo na nagsusulong ng karapatan noon ng mga mag-aaral,  nagsusuri ng mga batayang isyung panlipunan at naghahatag ng mga kaukulang suhestiyon para malunasan ang mga batayang suliraning ito.

Hindi sapat ang sumigaw lamang sa labas ng pintuan. Kinakailangang pumasok sa loob ng tahanan upang lubusang marinig. Hindi sapat ang maging ilaw sa labas dahil mananatiling nasasa dilim ang kabahayan sampu ng mga nasa loob nito. Sa ating pagsigaw, kailangan natin ang makisangkot at maging bahagi ng pagpapanibago una sa atin-ating mga sarili.

Kahit ilang people power ang dumaan. Kahit sino pa ang umupo sa Malacañang kung hindi matutugunan ang mga batayang suliranin na karamihan ay nagsisimula sa tahanan at mga personal na pagpapahalaga ay walang mangyayari. Pagod na ang sambayanan. Huwag na sana nating hangarin na ang mga susunod na aksyon ay maging di makatao at makatarungan sa mata ng mundo.

Sa lahat ng ito, MAPAGWASTONG EDUKASYON ANG KAILANGAN. Isang edukasyong nagbubuo (developmental) at hindi mapangwasak. Kasabay nito ay kailangang palakasin ang mga batayang sektor ng ating lipunan at turuan silang maging kritikal at mapanuri.

“To arrest the problem, we need to go within it. We need to cure the different cancers of our society today.” And we couldn’t do it by just shouting outside. Our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal deeply realized it well when he decided to return to the Philippines and continue the fight because he said, it was where the enemy and friends are.”

The same holds true to thousands of fellowmen who had left the country out of despair and hopelessness. Many of whom are the elite and middle class who could have done so much for the country if they are only here. They could never be cold unsung heroes for they aren’t. They were never under persecution or were pushed out of poverty. They are the very same people who are shouting outside in the dark and who are posing with pity to their motherland but has long abandoned it. Nevertheless, it isn’t yet late. If the Zionists have done it in the new founded Israel , more than anything else, they could do too with much ease for the country is still in the map and has not been totally abandoned by its citizens.

Right now, Social Development Movements in the country are finding it difficult to fund various projects for human development due to increase and intense competition with the existing resources hence other priorities have emerged particularly in the African region. It is where affluent Filipinos in the first world could return their blessings. After all, they are now also a part of the few and gifted sectors of the world who are amassing its meager resources of which little have been left for the developing countries. 

They ought to realize and understand that for them and their business empire to stay, they must keep the sectors that support and patronize it alive, otherwise the consumers of whom even though majority are poor and marginalized, businesses depend.

Tayo, higit kaninuman ang makapagtatama ng mga pagkakamali ng nakalipas.

(Initially posted at pinoyteachersnetwork@yahoogroups.com on December 7, 2007)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Reaction to the ‘Economics of K+12 by Abraham Felipe, TEDPloop

The K+12 proposals are presently one center of very significant discussions on socio-economic reforms for the country. The discussions have generated many intelligent and creative arguments and called attention to interesting facts on the pro and con sides of the discussions. One excellent source of pro arguments is the paper of Nikki Tenazas, The Economics of K+12. Since it is obvious that it was not just scribbled on a tissue paper, it deserves a respectful response.   

The Nikki Tenazas paper, judging from many reactions, has a great pull. It is easy to concede its intelligent use of many data in constructing arguments for the pro side. The methodical use of economics in giving meaning to data and political intentions added system in her discussion of why and how the K+12 proposals would be beneficial to individuals and the nation.

However, Nikki Tenazas had oversights in her assumptions that seriously biased her discussion. To restore balance, I intend to bring them to the fore. I also plan to correct some of her facts. 

Akin to a Milleneal Movement

But let me first make some brief remarks about some sub-conscious non-rational sources of appeal of the Nikki Tenazas thesis. Nikki Tenazas presents the K+12 proposals like a case of a milleneal type of movements which have always enjoyed universal appeal. These movements call for change as the means to be delivered from suffering. In the case of K+12, it promises a period of order and progress in the field of education and training as reward at the end of the road. But it first stresses that the K+12 trip will not be a simple walk in a garden, that it could instead mean years of wandering in the wilderness that will impose sacrifices, draw out doubts and demand reliability and perseverance from all. It employs a credible figure that will rally the people about the promised land of milk and honey. It is the theme of reformers. One should not scoff at its effectiveness. On the other hand, he should watch out that it does not diminish reason.

Oversights in Nikki Tenazas’ Assumptions: The First Oversight

 Nikki Tenazas forgot to first ask two questions (a) “Is it necessary to lengthen the education cycle up to K+12?” and its corollary, (b) “Is it necessary to construct a 12-year curriculum?”

“Oversight” is the correct word. She overlooked to ask those questions because of the manner she had planned to discuss the K+12 proposals. This oversight was what led her to a one-sided discussion of the issues.  

Her game plan was to roll out the “gist” of the K+12 proposals which consisted of (a) what is proposed to be done in SY 2011-2012, (b) what is proposed to be done in SY2012-2013 and so on until the student cohort gradually entered the proposed senior high school in 2016.  Her plan was to show that the proposals had good bases, were cautious enough, reasonable, obvious or unavoidable. Hence, she did not feel a need to first ask “Is it necessary to lengthen the education cycle up to K+12?” and neither the question  “Must the curriculum be revised for that cycle length?” Raising those questions would only sidetrack her from her plan. That was what led Nikki Tenazas to be partial.

But isn’t the need obvious, many would ask. Isn’t the Philippines the only country in the region with a 10-year basic education system? Isn’t the Philippines one of the very few countries in the world with that length of basic education? Granting these to be both true, it does not follow that length of the cycle is a factor in learning. On the other hand, any relation that exists may be deceptive. For example, we do not know how many countries just patterned their system on others, just as the Philippines is now considering adopting a K+12 pattern. It is important to first know whether long cycles were associated with quality education and short cycles with poor quality. But so far, the argumentation has been social in character – our system is different from those of others, therefore we should change. Meanwhile, we have also been told that the tastes and practices of the Joneses should not be the norm for their neighbors.

The mistake of the pro advocates is in their failure to look at what are already empirically known about the relation between length of formal schooling and “quality” of education. They appeared to be unaware that that point had been studied in the case of TIMSS, which study had already been published. There have been no signs that they have been aware of these things. Thus, they cannot be faulted for not knowing that “no convincing evidence was found to justify the recommendation to lengthen the cycle”, as the study concluded. 

To give one example, South Korea has the same length of pre-schooling as the Philippines but is a top performer in TIMSS. At the same time, other countries had longer pre-schooling (e.g., Ghana, Morocco, 2 years; Botswana, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, 3 years) but much lower TIMSS scores. 

The case of the Philippines is a good illustration that long cycles per se do not contribute to higher achievement. The Philippines with its 6-year elementary cycle has lower scores than all 13 countries with shorter elementary cycles (Russia, Armenia, Latvia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Moldova, Italy, Egypt and Iran). 

The case of the Philippines which ended up at or near the bottom in almost all tests, needs more comments. This performance and the fact that her educational cycle was one of the shortest, were often quoted as reasons for the proposal to lengthen its educational cycle. After studying the performance of more than 40 countries in 7 4th grade tests and 9 8th grade  tests, the study concluded: “Considering the findings .... attributing the (inferior Philippine) results to the length of the Philippine cycle is neither objective nor correct. The evidence is clear and irrefutable:  some countries have short sub-cycles but have high scores; other countries have long sub-cycles but have low scores.” 

The Second Oversight of Nikki Tenazas: 

The second question Nikki Tenazas forgot to ask was the question “Is it necessary to design a 12-year program?”

Obviously if the cycle will be 12 years long, all l2 years must be filled up with content. But “improving” or “modernizing” the curriculum does not necessarily mean designing a 12-year program.

We have had improvement programs that were not based on 12-year cycles. The Program for a Decentralized Elementary Education (PRODED) in the 70’s was based on only 6 years of elementary school. The Secondary Education Development Program (SEDP) of the 80’s was based on only 4 years of secondary school. The Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) in the 90’s was also based on 6 years of elementary school. I am not aware of anyone who is ready to say that the experts who presided over those earlier curricular revisions did not know their business, unlike the experts being organized at present. 

This is not to say that the earlier curricular initiatives were free of errors. I am aware that many had pointed to the main culprit in the school curriculum that was never satisfactorily handled. This culprit is the congestion of subjects and topics that lengthens the class day, causes parents to buy many books and materials, increases tuition and other fees, physically burdens young children, compels the hiring of more teachers and the construction of more classrooms, fills up teachers’ time, calls for a lot of re-training, obscures from the pupil the “essentials” in learning, and many things that every parent knows. At its heart, the call for a 12-year curriculum is a call for more study time, the clearing of the curriculum of junk and debris. It is not a call for more materials to study. It is a call that can be heeded by designing an efficient curriculum, freeing it of the debris that clog the hours and divert the focus of learners and teachers, without having to hold down a child for 12 years in school.  

At a certain point in our education history, it looked like this culprit was finally going to be reduced. This was during a time when many school subjects were said to be in for “clustering” under the makabayan theme. That thinking was bold. But the audacity evaporated. (In fairness to PRODED, there was a similar intention to streamline the curriculum, but the intention was not as well publicized as during the makabayan initiative).

The makabayan type of venture is all that is needed to create learning time and efficient schooling. Education officials involved in that venture are still around for reference if need be. K+12 is not bold. It is really a timid response. It will be expensive. It is not prudent. It is risky. It started by confronting the educational problems, and after recognizing their enormity, caved in right away. 

A Wrong Fact

One reason why Nikki Tenazas strongly recommended lengthening the curriculum was her impression that Filipino test takers have been one or two years younger than their foreign counterparts, placing them at a disadvantage in terms of exposure to intellectual and educational tasks. This impression was wrong. In TIMSS, the number of years in school of the participants was properly equated. Filipino 4th graders were not compared with 6th graders of other countries but with their 4th grade counterparts, no matter the length of their elementary education. The reported difference in the performance of Filipinos was not a matter of age. It was due to plain and simple bad education. There is no basis to blame the length of schooling.  There is therefore no logic in expecting lengthening the cycle to improve the situation.

Gamblers’ Stakes  

The more important concerns of the K+12 proposals start at the senior high school level. The things to be done at the elementary and secondary levels are unclear until now. More attention is given to the higher levels because of K+12’s growth orientation and the priority to developing globally competitive manpower. This is not to say this is bad. The point only is that real basic education does not seem to be the main concern of K+12.
   
The emphasis of the present K+12 plans on making Filipino manpower   productive rests on the expectations of what the country stands to gain if the plans succeed and how grave the outcome if the plans fail. The pros and cons will readily agree that this is not the issue. There is more than the significance-gravity issue here. Equally important is the likelihood issue – the likelihood of success or failure – the core of gambling. Even if the reward will be heaven but the probability of success is zero, why spend time on it? Even though it will be outright disaster if the skies suddenly fall on us but its likelihood is zero, why worry?  Worry is appropriate only for adverse events with some likelihood of occurring. And effort is reasonable only if it might succeed. 

No doubt, the desired pay-offs of K+12 are important to the nation and to individuals. Calling for sacrifice is reasonable. But how should it be called?  
In the present case, on what does success depend? To quote from the paper, “The DepED’s proposed implementation scheme for the program is a workable plan simply because it ...  buys time for essential resources to be put in place. It all hinges on economic growth and fiscal capacity: if the current government lays the right foundation, economic growth can be expected to accelerate; this in turn would mean more financial flexibility for the government”.  But even Nikki Tenazas was not confident that the necessary conditions for K+12 to succeed would be satisfied. She spoke of the current government conditionally “miraculously finding a way to solve resource shortages”. And if the plan fails? We continue the quote. “... if the government does as expected and fails to provide adequate resources to meet acceptable resource ratios, the rationale of the K+12 program remains intact.” In other words, in the event of failure we should still be happy for we would at least have the K+12 curriculum. 

Is this curriculum enough for a gain? The K+12 approach might be clever for starting early but if it is consciously adopted knowing its required growth and fiscal assumptions are not on hand, it is a risky plan. If it fails in its mission, it could not be of any value, as claimed. Instead, it should be disposed.

Nikki Tenazas laments that many present-day parents are gambling away, nay, surrendering future earning potentials by letting their children forego schooling in exchange for low earning work. But for most of the poor parents, the choice is not schooling with a good future earning potential versus stopping school now and working. The choice is between schooling with good earning potential in the future versus present food on the table, some clothing on the back, meeting basic health and other human needs, as they try to cope with survival problems. Those parents might be gambling their children’s future earnings but they are trying to secure life in the present. To demand that they forego present needs in exchange for future capacity is impractical. If the children are not presently protected legally because of age, just make sixteen the legal age for employment. Anyway, that rule is not cast in stone.  

K+12 is not a clean no-gambling option. There is gambling in it too. It is betting on an optimistic expectation of growth. It is a national gamble, unlike the gambling of present parents which they do at the individual level. The stakes in K+12 are higher. As a national gamble, K+12 is courting considerable discouragement of national scale and substantial loss of opportunities for countless youth, if it miscalculates. It is risking too much social dissatisfaction. Many are asked to forego a lot for an uncertain future. It is not a calculated move, with managed risks, toward a desired future.  

K+12 might be clever in fixing a reckoning time (after 2016) when those responsible for it would no longer be around. But it is irresponsible for assuming the availability of resources that are not presently available. It is cruel for zeroing in on the poor for them to forego their needs for a nest-egg that might only be a mirage.

Testimony of Older Professionals

The de-valued Filipino medical professional (doctor, nurse, technologist) is of recent vintage.  The scene of a desperate housewife asking to see first the diploma of a Filipino physician she was advised to see was unknown before. Filipino doctors did not work as nurses. Nurses were not caregivers. A study of the careers and fortunes of medical professionals in the United States will show this. And their basic education was the old basic education. It had been good enough.

If there has been a change in the value of medical professionals, it could be for other reasons. For example, it could be because of over-supply that their value had shrunk. Competition from other countries (specially in the case of ICT) must be recognized as another factor but it is not accurate to say that only competition mattered.

The Reaction of the Poor: Never disregard

It is recognized that the K+12 plan places more burden on the poor, even as it was supposed to be designed for them. The longer curriculum postpones the time one would be ready for work, and demands more expenses. It stresses the importance for everyone of staying in school at least until the age of 18 and of tightening the belt. It exerts a special burden on those who could stay in school only until age 16 but not up to age 18, two years more. 

Education is for all – specially the youth including those out of school, the adults, the illiterate and the handicapped. Many parents have started to call the K+12 plan anti-poor. Even if the plan’s intention may be opposite, planners should not ignore the perceived anti-poor effect. More youth would be led to drop out.  Questions could be raised about the State’s constitutional duty to provide education to the people. This is no light matter.

As a means for government to monitor how well it provides schooling opportunities to children of school age, it uses indices such as the proportion of children of various ages who are in school, who drop out, and who survive and finish. These are legitimate ways for monitoring schooling opportunities and measuring government’s record in providing them. They will be the rallying point of the poor. And of politicians. K+12 planners should not think quality is the only legitimate dimension for evaluating education.
   
Scepticism

For some time now, I have grown sceptical about our determination to improve our basic education. This scepticism has a history which I had told and retold in different occasions.

Thirty-four years ago (1976), the Department of Education of that period  reported that Grade 6 pupils knew just a little bit more than grade 5 pupils as measured by achievement tests. When that was discovered, the Secretary of Education then expressed the official reaction of the government in the Foreword of the report with a statement that the finding was “disturbing and causes us no reason to rejoice”. 

The significance of this report was obvious. The finding became one empirical indicator addressed by a 10-year development program to improve elementary education which included among other things, a revision of the curriculum.

After 10 years of PRODED (that is, by 1986), the Department of Education reported that Grade 6 pupils were once more predictably better than Grade 5 pupils in achievement tests. However, just 2 years later, the situation was back to the 1976 level with Grade 5 pupils again performing better. Apparently, Grade 6 had been difficult to tame. 

In 2004, or 28 years after it was first reported, a study involving 96 schools in Metro Manila and Region 4, reported that grade 6 pupils had less competencies than grade 5, a worse situation than in 1976. 

This finding was reported to the personalities concerned – at the school, division, regional and national levels for appropriate action. Replication was suggested, among other things. Up to now, there have been no reports of actions taken or intentions of future actions to be taken. The significance of the 1976 report that the Secretary then recognized, had been lost. 

This personal experience has colored my thinking about the seriousness of the K+12 plan. If the pro advocates have not noted so obviously dissonant a finding which the then Secretary had to describe as “disturbing and causes us no reason to rejoice”, then what type of matters will be worthy of their attention?  

The Grade 6 problem is just a mini problem compared to the problems the K+12 pros want to tackle until 2016.  Yet the Grade 6 problem is now 34 years old. It had worsened in the meantime. When first observed in 1976, Grade 6 schoolers were still better than grade 5 pupils, albeit only slightly. The last time it was observed in 2004, grade 6 schoolers were significantly lower in mathematics, science and English test performance. Worse, now it is not even recognized as a problem. I am not sure the pros have been aware of that. I am certain they had not done anything about it. I had not heard them factor in that problem in their curriculum plans, even as the Secretary of Education at the time when it was first noted,  was “disturbed” by it and found “no reason to rejoice” because of it. These make me wonder how responsive will be the plans of the pros to educational problems on the ground. As for me, only when they would have competently addressed the mini problem that is Grade 6, would they have earned their spurs to tackle bigger problems. Improving Grade 6 is the qualifying test.

My Position on the Issue of Revising the Curriculum
  • I agree with the pro advocates that the basic education curriculum should be revised.
  • I agree that it is now best to start the revision in 2011. It should have been started yesterday.
  • The revision must give priority to the lower levels, not Grades 11 and 12.
  • I agree to the proposal to have the Kindergarten component right away because the Kindergarten period is a crucial period in a child’s development. I agree that the government has the duty to shoulder it.
  • Kindergarten’s purpose is not to prepare the child for the “rigors of schooling” but to initiate the child into the “culture of schooling’ with its special practices on how to relate with others and how to search and recognize information with them. Do not just stick in a Kindergarten level and think you are done with it. 
  • Seriously take the role of nutrition in producing a productive citizenry. Have a more extensive school feeding program. Use CCTs for this purpose. Co-opt PTAs to provide nutritional programs in schools. Encourage the search for local sources of nutritional supplements.
  • Revision should emphasize reducing the congestion of subjects and topics. At each level, the curriculum must focus on basic subjects – mathematics, science, subjects to develop love of country, and language. The medium of instruction will be according to the multi-lingual specialists, beginning with the vernacular, and progressing to the teaching of Filipino as a second language and to English later as a third language in preparation for higher education. As a guideline, the number of school subjects will be three, with a maximum of four and five at the elementary and high school levels, respectively.
  • Have a special emphasis to improve instruction for Grade 6. Treat Grade 6 as a bridge to the high school that does not operate optimally at present. Give priority to repairing this bridge.
  • Do not venture into Grades 11 and 12 until we are certain we will have the resources those grades will need without relinquishing the prior duty for the lower grade levels. Do not gamble away the future.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Overcoming Expensive Hospitalization in Times of Serious Illness

Palaging totoo ang salawikaing “kapag may isinuksok, may madudukot” at kilalang kasabihang sa “panahon, ngayon, bawal ang magkasakit.  Ngunit pano kung sa kabila ng lahat ng ating pag-iingat ay kulang pa rin at may nagkakasakit pa rin sa ating pamilya?  Naospital kase ang aming anak  dahil sa acute gastroentritis.

Nasabi ko lang ito sapagkat naharap kami sa hindi inaasahang kagastusan na umabot sa mahigit na pitong libong piso sa loob lamang ng dalawang araw hindi pa kasama ang iba pang gastusin sa labas ng ospital.  Walumpung porsiyento ng “cash gift” na nakatakda sanang itabi at ipambayad sa ilang mga bayarin ay napunta lamang bilang bayad sa ospital at 38% lamang nito ang marerefund kapag naayos na ang PhilHealth.  Idagdag pa rito ang dulot na stress at pag-aalala kahit pa alam natin na nandiyan at palagi lamang nakabantay ang ating mahal na Panginoon.  Syempre, nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa.

Sa ilang araw naming pamamalagi sa ospital at pagmamasid-masid sa iba pang pasyente at kaanak ng pasyenteng naruruon ay hindi ko maiwasang magnilay at magtanong.  Pano na lamang ang ating mga kababayang hindi handa sa ganitong pagkakataon kahit na nabibilang sa gitnang uri lalo’t higit ang mga walang kaya sa buhay?   Dahil sa kamahalan ng maospital ngayon, marami ang hindi na lamang nagpapagamot o nagtitiis kaya sa di mahusay na serbisyo sa mga pampublikong ospital.

Naisip ko nga na sa pampublikong ospital na lamang namin ipasok ang aming anak ngunit nanaig naman ang takot sapagkat marami ang nagsasabi na palpak at lubhang mababa ang kalidad ng serbisyo.  Mabuti pang maituturing sa pampublikong ospital sa aming bayan kung saan nagsilang ang aking may bahay at palagiang kaming nagpapagamot na pamilya. 

Sa puntong ito ay sumagi sa aking isipan ang kahalagahan ng palagiang financial readiness aside from spiritual readiness.  Napakahalaga talaga na bukod sa pqg-iingat, pagpapanatili ng mabuting kalusugan ay may PhilHealth ang padre de familia.  Mas mabuti kung ang kapwa mag-asawa ang meron nito sampu ng iba pang kasapi ng pamilya edad diseotso pataas.  Kung mapagpipilitan, bukod sa PhilHealth ay may private health insurance pa plus emergency fund na katumbas ng limang buwang sahod.  Ang emergency fund ay magmumula sa savings na dapat hindi nawawala sa sinumang kumikita maituturing mang sapat ito o hindi.

Napakahalaga nang lahat ng ito lalo ng kung nabibilang tayo sa mahirap na angkan na pawang walang ibang pinagkukunan kundi ang kinikitang sapat lamang makatugon sa pang-araw-araw na pangangailangan.  Lalo pa nga at wala ring halos aasahan sa mga pampublikong ospital na mahusay nga ang serbisyo kung minsan ay wala namang gamot kung kaya kailangan pa itong bilhin sa labas ng may pasyente.

Napahalagang ring maituturing ang maging kritiko at mapagbantay upang pagbutihan ng mga pampublikong ospital sa mga probinsya at sa mga kalunsuran man na pagbutihin ang kanilang serbisyo sapagkat ito ang paraan upang makuha nila ang pagtangkilik ng mga middle class na makatutulong nang malaki sa kanilang charity programs at sustainability.