Improving Philippine education is not easy, given the challenges that both the country and the education system has to face. When your average IQ in the country is 80+ (some magnitudes below what’s supposed to be the normal , your country is the lowest-scoring in international standardized exams, intelligence is considered to be shameful, appreciation of culture is nearly non-existent, no one likes smart (and correct) people, and nearly everyone experiences learning poverty and learning deprivation (that’s around 9 out of 10 students by Grades 3-5 who can’t read a simple story and have no access to these materials, according to the World Bank), you know that it just sucks.
Anyhow, here are some suggestions:
Give public school libraries the budget that they need and the agency to buy the books that their children need to read from local publishers: Since DepEd is now planning to bring back budgets for public school libraries, just give librarians and school heads the ability to buy what they need. Alternatively, DepEd could simply mass-buy from a list of publishers and independent printing houses and/or authors for children (or have a specific list of books that have been curated by diverse and trusted sources); this will allow the department to have a direct hand in supporting and further strengthening the local publishing industry.
To be frank, one can find extremely cheap children’s books at National Bookstore as well as book fairs and the like. In my own personal experience, I was able to buy around 150 books of all kinds and sizes with a budget of P20,000 – and we’re talking about the types of books that are read by students in other parts of the world, along with the latest samples and trends in graphic literature. If I happen to limit myself to the “mini-books”, allowing myself for variety, I could actually buy between 300-400 books with the given budget. Additionally, it is possible to have a reader set of 50 books for P1400; the whole set (at 200 readers) would actually cost 5600, including shipping costs. In fact, I could give everyone the Lazada link right now to draw the necessary conclusions for themselves.
In other words, empowering students to read is actually accessible if one is responsive and resourceful…and one is given the funds and the latitude to spend it.
“Read” visual. We Filipinos are a visual people.
This means that things like comics, graphic novels, graphic literature, and YouTube videos with proper closed captions (CC) work best for the majority of Filipinos.
They’re all widely available. There are also a lot of people willing to donate comic books – but you’ll have to reach out to them first.
YouTube is free, this much needs to be said!
Since we are also have a great sense of hearing, audio books would work too.
Once the books are available, make students engage with them so that they actually retain the skills, vocabulary items, and reflections that they’ve learned through the course of their respective readings.
There are many ways to engage students with their close reading materials – this includes derivation activities, comprehension exercises, extension activities, and the time-proven and tested book report (a typical student should be able to get something out of the reading extract/piece/book). They can also perform poetry, write something, or do a mind map; the possibilities are endless!
After all, without actively engaging the potential reader, how will we as teachers expect them to digest the books that they’ve read?
Another step towards improving Philippine education is to have reading materials that could also be read in different local languages, along with English and Filipino.
This is actually a challenge to both the local publishing industry and the Philippine writing community to diversify their writing and find people who can write well in the diverse and colorful languages of the country. There are already a lot of efforts to do these things – which, of course, should be expanded and intensified!
By allowing students to have more access to these materials, they actually increase literacy and allow them to learn the values of multiculturalism and diversity at the same time. By the way, did we mention that this step also allows Filipino students to appreciate the richness of the hundreds of cultures that exist in our country?
The Philippine set of “national values” is actually pretty great. To review, we promote the values of being “makatao” (a person of humanistic and universal values and a person who is fair and values human life), “makakalikasan” (a person who places the environment and nature as an important part of one’s life), “makabansa” (a person who patriotic and who is willing to go the extra mile for the country), and “makadiyos” (literally a godly person – regardless of religion, but it also refers to a person who respects universal values and norms and treats others with respect, kindness, and compassion, as well as respects and values the value systems of others without prejudice and malice).
Just teach them in the best way possible. This would save both our youth and our country a lot of pain going down the line.
There’s a lot to suggest when it comes towards improving Philippine education and the system that comes with it. Of course, the key is to suggest them in a constructive way…and to convince key focal people to actually consider implementing these!
I have also written on why SIKAP doesn’t fix Philippine education – it seems that our education leaders have forgotten the necessity of having well-rounded citizens! If you liked the content, please follow the Facebook and YouTube handles here – stay safe and healthy!