Let me go straight to the point: SIKAP doesn’t fix Philippine education. Period.
I remember my days at Sta. Maria Elementary School in Zamboanga City back in the early 2000s, when we actually had spelling quizzes that tested whether we knew the vocabulary needed for that particular grade level. Within that same school, we had debates in HEKASI (Geography, History, and Civics), while at the same time, we had field trips to places like the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to learn things like first aid and reforestation, respectively.
I still remember the skills I’ve learned in these classes up to this very day.
Today, fast forward to 2023 – we have one of the lowest IQs in Southeast Asia (yes, this is recent), we are below the global average according to the same quotient published in this year’s report by the World Population Review. We also have the lowest averages in reading comprehension, math, and science among the countries that participated in the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Then, there’s the fact that the Philippines had a 91-percent learning poverty rate and 90-percent learning poverty rate during the pandemic – and I’m pretty sure that this hasn’t improved much since then, considering that everyone and their cat still talks about the fact that our country is in the middle of an educational crisis.
Here’s the thing about fixing the Philippine education system (and let me repeat: SIKAP doesn’t fix Philippine education, simply because it doesn’t pay attention to the reasons why our education is so crappy in the first place): It’s not easy to fix at all, let alone update it to reflect the realities of the 21st century. Sure, you can count specialized (i.e., science and arts high schools), high-end, exclusive, and international schools out of this equation, but the truth of the matter is that the majority of us Filipinos will and do come from public schools – and chances are that the same student would continue their studies at a public high school, and if they could afford it, finish their education at a state university/college (SUC).
As a result, it is important to overhaul the Philippine education system and turn it into something that is fair, equitable, inclusive, efficient, and representative of the times that we live in.
DepEd’s plan of putting together Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies; i.e., History, Geography, and Civics), Music, Arts, PE, Culture, and Health altogether into one subject does not solve the problems that we have in education and society today. It actually exacerbates the problem by ensuring that none of these are given the importance that they deserve.
Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Not giving time for the child to gain appreciation for one’s lores, myths, and traditions at an early age results in the loss of identity. Denying this to the majority of Filipino children is a disgrace, to put it mildly.
- While many of us may hate PE due to the physical exertion that it requires, students actually get to learn the basics of sports and maintain a decent physique within that subject. Denying this to our children, who may not have the money and time to go to specialized weekend sports clinics, is a travesty.
- Music and the Arts is the place where many students learn how to express themselves (we like visuals and sounds, so yes) – and in a properly done setting, learn instruments, appreciation of the music and the arts, etc. Wait, why are we removing a part of the Filipino soul?
- Health is wealth. And it’s not limited to basic height, weight, BMI, etc. – there are things like first aid, mental health, disaster response, and climate adaptation that could be adopted into the curriculum.
- The reason why we don’t have an identity or we don’t really care about our cultural symbols and signs is that we almost never bothered to invest in our culture (especially as part of our basic education formation). No, it’s not just limited to introducing the tribes, languages, and traditions of the Philippines; it’s about recognizing what’s our own and ensuring that we have the proper background to be able to synthesize it into something that we could be proud of in the 21st century. Also, a healthy and strong soul is just as important as a healthy and strong body.
- Social Studies is not just dates, numbers, figures, places, and personalities. It’s about the technical skills you learn to read maps, to navigate without GPS, to go around with a compass, and to measure the world around you. It’s about thinking critically. It’s about maintaining healthy skepticism and ensuring that fake news does not proliferate. It’s about learning how the latest technologies affect our society and our everyday lives. It’s about not repeating the same mistakes our predecessors did. Finally, it’s about being able to adapt and deal with the world that we live in today and being a true, informed, and well-equipped global Filipino.
Instead of reducing the number of subjects and turning it into SIKAP, it’s high time to give the proper investment to teachers, equipment, facilities (both hard and soft infrastructure), and training (plus the necessary funds for development and research) so that these subjects are actually taught in an accurate, precise, timely, and relevant manner.
This will be expensive and this will require everyone, including the LGUs, private sector, and all other stakeholders to make huge sacrifices and contribute in their own respective ways.
Do we really want the future of the Filipino child to be bleak?
I hope and pray to the Almighty above that our leaders and education policy makers would be able to see the fact that SIKAP doesn’t fix Philippine education – and that instead of being able to create future Filipinos who are makadiyos (God-fearing), makatao (human-centered), makakalikasan (environment-centered), and makabansa (patriotic), with the necessary skills and competencies to be beneficial players for change and impact in the 21st century, we would be left with future Filipinos who don’t know who they are – and who don’t have a soul at all.
Hoping that you enjoyed this guide on Manalipa Island in 2022!!!
In case you are curious how can you write, here’s a guide on writing as a young writer in the Philippines!