Fix major education problems first–Nebres

By Philip Tubeza

MANILA, Philippines—Ateneo de Manila University president Fr. Bienvenido Nebres has criticized the Aquino administration’s plan to add two more years to basic education, saying the government should focus first on cutting the number of “illiterates” the country produces annually.

Nebres, who headed the Presidential Task Force on Education (PTFE) in the Arroyo administration, said that with its meager resources, the government should first address the backlog in schools, textbooks, teachers and classrooms, and then cut by half the number of students (estimated to be around 700,000) who drop out of elementary school and are “illiterate.”

“Once you have achieved that, then let’s talk about the two years,” Nebres said in an interview in his office at the Ateneo.

President Aquino in his State of the Nation Address announced the plan to add two more years to basic education, which currently consists of six years of elementary and four years of high school.

The plan is aimed at aligning the Philippine education system with international standards.

But for Nebres, the plan would take away precious government resources from more pressing needs. Proponents of the plan say it would cost the government an additional P100 billion to implement it over a five-year period.

Nebres said records showed that 700,000 to 800,000 elementary school students—or around a third of the 2.4 million who enter the grades each school year—drop out before Grade 6.

“That means they’re illiterate. They’re unemployable. The estimate is that there are 12 million to 15 million illiterates in the country. So every year, you’re adding another 700,000 to 800,000,” Nebres said.

“That’s what should be addressed first because the country cannot move with so many poor unemployable people being added every year,” he said.

Instead of adding two years to basic education, Nebres recommended that the government instead add extra years to “select college courses” whose graduates would be required abroad to have 15 to 16 years of education.


  1. UP nn grad

    When you only have P50Billion extra and your choice is to “feed”
    all the young ones (with addition, subtraction, language, hygiene,
    how to tell time, deal with money, other basics so they have better
    chances to get a job in the munisipyo or in metro-Manila) versus use
    all the money for extra training for the eldest so they can work in
    Singapore or in Abu Dhabi or New Zealand, what choice do you take?

    Me, I say build the classrooms and hire more teachers to teach in
    those classrooms. The better educated all of the population is, the
    less the unemployment in Pilipinas, the better over-all it will be for Pilipinas.

    And educate the girls first!!! Side-statistic : the typical trafficked woman is under the age of 25 with a low level of education and low socioeconomic status yet carrying the economic burden of her family. Statistics in Latin America and Africa has shown that there is a lower pregnancy-rate among girls with more years in school.

    [Side-topic for the Ateneo University : “papal permanence” for its University President is not the only model around. Term-limits (like 12 years maximum) may be better.]

  2. Every time the issue of declining state of basic education comes up, the first solution offered is to increase the 10 year basic education to 12. As if this is the only solution to the problem when there are several factors considered in the delivery of basic education in the country, namely: the pupils/students, the teachers, the books, facilities and peace and order condition.

    Nebres said:
    cut by half the number of students (estimated to be around 700,000) who drop out of elementary school and are “illiterate.”

    He was talking about the pupils. A study was conducted where the reasons for not being in school were asked from the respondents; the elementary and high school students who dropped out of school.

    I thought it is about the lack of schools or the distance of the schools to their residence. It is not. It is the lack of interest.

    let me discuss the table provided in the link above.

    both the primary and high school drop outs scored lack of interest among the reasons for not attending schools; primary : 29 per cent; high school; 43 per cent.
    other reasons came second for primary: 25.3 while for high school, it is the high cost education with 26.8 per cent.

    the lack of interest reasons may actually refer to lack of financial resources or lack of support from parents according to the writer to which I agree 101 per cent.

    I often hear from the old folks from the province telling their daughters…bakit mag-aaral ka pa, mag-aasawa ka lang naman at manganganak. o di va?

    the study showed that the families in the low income bracket allocate a very small portion of their income to education. Most of the income go to basic necessities such as food and utilities. Single digit percentage is allotted for education.

    Across regions, the Deped secretary should take note that the respondents from Mindanao and some parts of Visayas ranked high the lack of interest which could be attributed to peace and order condition in Mindanao and high poverty incidence in Visayas.

    the national percentage for students who finished from grade one to high school averages at more than 70 per cent which is slightly higher than the US where basic education is compulsory. In many States, the dropout rates are higher especially among blacks and minorities. They go as high as 50 per cent. Primary reason for the drop out is gang related violence.

    While the pupil to teacher ratio target was improved, the quality of the teacher’s capability to impart knowledge seems to be a problem.

    The passing rate for the teacher’s exam has declined for the past years. The teachers with masteral constitute only a third of the total teachers’ population. The target is at least 60 per cent.

    Itutuloy. parang teleserye. bwahaha

  3. When one assumes a decision-making position, the first thing that he has to do is to look for the goals or targets made by the previous admin.

    Most likely there is one especially in the education sector where people are taught how to write their visions and missions and targets and are encouraged to conduct researches.

    The question that has to be asked is “Among the contributory factors to the improvement of a basic education which targets or goals have not been met?

    1. teacher to pupil ratio?
    2. student textbook ratio?
    3. number of students per room ratio?
    4. net enrollment ratio?
    5. drop out ratio
    6. cohort survival ratio?

    if the additional two years for basic education is going to be implemented, what would be its impact to these goals?

    Kailangan ng Deped ay calculator. Walang problema where he came from. Madaling magpatayo ng bagong building. Education is the business which is recession proof.

    Kung ang grade six ay 1,600,000 at ang fourth year ay 1,000,000, ilang classrooms ang kailangan?

    gamit ko ang aking abacus, kailangan natin ng 32,000 classrooms para sa grade 7 at 20,000 para sa isa pang level ng high school para imaintain ang 1 room for every 50 students.

    kahit na gawin pang dalawang shift ito, o sige , mabait na ako, tatlong shift na…kailangan pa rin natin ng 17,333 classrooms para maimplement ang additional 2 years.

    every year, may 6,000 classrooms tayong gap. ang ating additional classrooms na nadagdag ay mahigit 10,000 lang noong 2007.

    and that takes care of the facilities factor

  4. UP nn grad

    Luistro says the next two years will be “…general review and overhaul of the basic education curriculum he had ordered, which is expected to take two years, would help determine the cost of the reforms the Aquino administration has in mind for the education sector.”

    Luistro’s two years of study-study panel-discussion-here-panel-discussion-there is okay if in the same two years, Noynoy admin builds hundreds of new classrooms needed in Mindanao and Compostela valley, and dozens of additional classrooms in the Ilocos, Bataan and NCR.

    But Noynoy hasn’t said “…build new classrooms”, has he.

  5. UP nn grad

    Why hasn’t Noynoy identified what he will complete in 2011 and 2012?

    All he has said — study-this (education), study-that (Davide Commission). And he hasn’t even said study-this (nuclear power) or study-that (Paranaque Spillway). He did say “…free Trillanes” when he needed a vote.

    His approach of “…study this, study that” can get overwhelmed by other folks more used to “…get this DONE // get that DONE”.

    One of the getting-things-done people is in Congress and her goal is to get-done – Charter Change.

  6. Upnn,
    That is what was lacking in the SONA, the goals. Some people praised the SONA because it is simple, without frills, direct from the heart…blah blah.

    wala namang target kung anong gusto nilang ma-accomplish para next SONA, maireport na ito ang aming nagawa.

  7. “this la sallite is so optimistic. i think because pang-private school lang siya.”

    i hope the basic education curricular program that they can come up with is not a clone of the dlsu’s curriculum.

    the curricular program of dlsu is geared towards holistic development of a student.

    what nebres is advocating is just the essentials, the basic Rs, reading, riting and rithmetic to produce literate drop-outs or graduates.

    actually (pinoy talaga ako), the additional 2 years in their curriculum is because of the subjects in christian living. Don’t get me wrong, i have nothing against religion and DLSU being a Catholic school has the right to integrate these subjects to their program. kung ayaw mo umalis ka. the religion subject is offered in all levels which add up to 12 units. ano kaya ang ipopropose nila para sa public school where there should be separation of kris errrm church and state.

    the grade 7 of dlsu is web designing. how would you expect the poor to pass this subject when many of them do not have access to computers except in the internet cafe.

    the additional subjects in the high school are for the rich only, like table etiquette ( where i can bet my month’s paycheck, kasi wala na akong tinatanggap, hehehe) na hindi na maalala ang nasa actual party where table manners are required. (si julia sa pretty woman tinuruan lang noong concierge). Well I can get that in the web i.e. what utensils to use, what dish to eat first. ask the pinays who are working in Europe. matatalo sila.
    then you have the music where students learn how to play different musical instruments. sino naman ang makaafford ng clarinet o piano o violin sa mga students ng public school system.

    ang mga tiskiting gubat ko pinag-aral ko ng piano, binilhan ko ng piano sa awa ng Diyosa ng Musika, karaoke lang ang kanilang sinasabayan. toinkkk.

    ang gusto ko ay yong vocational courses pero meron din tayo niyan sa public, yong home economics. (meron pa ba noon).

    ngayon kung ito ang sa dlsu ano ang idadagdag nilang subjects sa proposed basic education para maging 12 years?

    ang math sa dlsu ay pareho rin na hanggang 4th year, pati ang mga subjects sa noli me tangere, el fili ay offered din.

    oh yeah ang kanilang mga graduates ay nasa showbiz na kasama ng mga nagtapos lang sa public school system. kagaya nina mariel rodriguez at richard gutierrez. Yong isa maganda, yong isa dahil anak din ng artista.

    so ang inventory ay ano ang additional subjects na idadagdag?

    malalaman lang ang mga sagot sa tanong na ito kung tapos na ang pagdraft ng program.

    1. ilan at anong klaseng teachers ang kailangan
    2. anong libro ang kailangan
    3. ilang classrooms ang kailangan

    magagawa ba ito ng sabay o pagkatapos lang.

    i tell you i have been involved in curricular program review, naging magaling akong caricaturist. naidrawing ko ang aking mga kasamahan sa mga napkins at notebooks. I also perfected the art of sleeping without closing my eyes.

  8. Die Hard NoyPi-Riyadh

    If I may interject my knowledge in Education 101 which I will borrow from the lecture of the former Academic Vice-President of DLSU,Dr. Waldo Perfecto,there are four M- components of raising the standard of administration of our education to spur economic development:
    1) Materials= refers to quality of books,physical & research facilities like libraries,speech & chemical labs,conference halls,gym,& classrooms
    2) Methodology-conduct session on a one-on-one basis or shotgun approach (ratio of teachers-to-students)plus the platform of the curriculum
    3) Manpower-quality of teachers, resource persons & research aides
    4) Mental Attitude/Motivation- refers to behavioural state of students

    efinitely,Item #1-to item#3, are the infrastructure of education which the state or govt is duty bound by the Constitution to provide at no cost atleast in both the primary and secondary stage of the public school system. Our public school system has deteriorated because the govt has not given priority to provide enought funds to meet the requiremnents of basic infrastructure of education. There is no need to debate on 10 or 12 years of basic education if we want to be competitive internationally and raise the quality of our future workers. Congress must allocate bigger resources which has a multiplier effect on the economic activities of society. Atleast for the next 6 years,we do not expect rampant corruption and tong-pats from the P-Noy administration. As for Item#4, the lack of interest in students is a symptom of the lack of sincerity of good governance and leadership by example. If we have Efren Penaflorida who can motivate students who have empty stomach and no chairs or desk to use,with just good example and intentions in govt, we can multiply 1,000 Efren Penaflorida to address the problem of drop-outs.

  9. “why cant people work on changing the curriculum AND adding more infrastructure at the same time?” like nebres says, it’s a matter of “meager resources” not enough money for both, so first things first. and i’m not sure the extra two years is necessary, not if the 10-year curriculum is planned and implemented wisely, i.e., with good teachers, adequate infra, etc.

  10. thanks for the link, gabbyd: “Expanding the basic education system to 12 years will definitely cost a lot. Aquino’s education team admits that an investment of close to P100 billion, or P20 billion a year from 2011 to 2017, will be needed to build additional schools and classrooms, hire more teachers, buy more textbooks and equipment, and pay for operating expenses.”

  11. @cat

    “actually (pinoy talaga ako), the additional 2 years in their curriculum is because of the subjects in christian living. ”

    i am a grad of the la salle system. we have 11 years of GS and HS, not 12.

  12. “because the program is like the house plan which will determine how much building a house will cost.”

    fascinating analogy! in this case i think ur specific metaphor is flawed. infrastructure is like a one bedroom apartment, while the curriculum is how to apportion the infrastructure among competing uses (ie. will i teach math in this apartment, or science?)

    in this case, you can proceed to build as many one bedroom apartments as you can because there are lots of homeless :) at the same time, u should figure out what they should do inside the one bedroom apartments :)

  13. “fascinating analogy! in this case i think ur specific metaphor is flawed. infrastructure is like a one bedroom apartment, while the curriculum is how to apportion the infrastructure among competing uses (ie. will i teach math in this apartment, or science?)”

    the curriculum is not meant to apportion the infrastructure among uses. the present infrastructre is not even adequate for the current program.

    to implement the new curriculum, it is a must that there will be addional capital expenditures and operating expenses throughout the years when it is being implemented.

    btw do you understand what a curriculum is? have you prepared one? I did.

  14. its ok. pls keep bragging.

    its clear that “implementing” the curriculum takes money and building new classrooms, etc… when i said “work on the new curriculum”, i was assuming u had read the news articles saying that for now, they are beggining the studies of what should be changed.

    alot of people have said this means deped sec doesnt know what he’s doing.

    i disagree. i cannot see why this planning CANNOT be done at the same time as building more classrooms.

    this is especially obvious considering that implementing the new 12 year plan would require new classrooms ANYWAYS. so build them NOW.

    in the gma7 article i linked to, building new classrooms IS part of it. kasama yan sa 100B estimate nila.

  15. hey angela. the problem is not the drop out rate. it’s the opportunity cost of staying in school (what a student can do with his time if he were out of school). If the school is lousy, and all say it is, for all sorts of reasons, the opportunity cost — doing nothing, playing b-ball, helping out at home, etc. — is too high.

    the real problem is not numbers. it’s the quality of the schools. so the rah-rah pollyanna thing that seems to be emerging is flawed. what should happen is that heads should roll on the issues of bad textbooks, untrained teachers, lazy students (parents are ok, but misguided because they do the kids’ homework), etc. some are flaws among the “clients” – the students or their parents. how do you fix that?

    no easy answers. and throwing money at a flawed system is a waste.

  16. well, yeah, orlando, there’s all that too. all of the above need to be considered when deciding where to use meager resources. we haven’t even started on language. if memory serves, the quality of educ started deteriorating with the bilingual policy that started with marcos back in the 70s…

  17. UP nn grad

    Orlando: You have to keep up with some of the news coming out of Mindanao. Just find the latest at Inquirer — children needing to swim across a river 70 meters wide in order to get to school. The kids have the drive to go to school, now if only there was a classroom on their side of the river. Go to BarrioSiete(dot) and find the blogpost that mentions Udalo Elementary School (Lanao del Sur) — over six hundred students (okay, practically all of them are Muslims) to use a single classroom. Amazing they haven’t turned lazy yet, don’t you think?

    You say “throwing money at a flawed system is a waste” —- you sound like some white (or black or Fil-Am) folks of New Jersey who say that to send USA-aid to Pilipinas (a country that can’t even grow enough rice to feed itself) is a waste.

  18. @UP nn grad: Right, these kids are the same ones they bring over for “read alongs” with celebs, harhar.. PDI or ABS-CBN like to show off their do-gooder instincts, and you buy into it?

    All I was trying to say was that if you have an old car that needs a new engine, transmission, and suspension, and its body is rusting away, do you want to keep spending on it? No, you rethink and maybe all you need is a solar-powered bicycle. That makes me out as some Eye-talian from Joysey? Yes, of course.

  19. clarence

    bakit ang iniisip ng DEP ED ay makatapos ng high school ang dapat nilang isipin di ba dapat college.

    Ask: magkano ba sahod ng high school grad: 10k php
    =ano po work na mapapasukan ng high school graduate
    janitor,messenger , tindera, driver , domestic helper etc

    college grad engr: 20-40k php
    college grad manager: 60-250k php

    Tanong: misis bakit po di nakatapos ng college ang inyong anak

    Sagot ni Misis: wala po mapasukang public school na college puro private college kasi marami school dito sa atin at ginagawang negosyo nila mga private school at minsan naglalagay pa sila ng church sa school para free of tax or magkaroon ng subsidy sa goverment kaya sila yumayaman mga private school ngayon .

    Tanong: Wala po kaming pambayad sa matrikula pang private mahal kasi gusto naming pag aralin sana sa public kaso wala naman mapasukan public school.

    Sagot ni Misis:eh ang matrikula po kasi sa
    Public school 10k php 1 year
    Private school: 54k to 200k pkp per year

    ang gusto kasi nila iparehas tayo sa mayaman na bansa na 12 years ang education. eh sa mga mayaman na bansa like canada nga free education bakit di yung kaya gayahin nila free education muna para marami makatapos sa school sa atin.

    ang problema talaga kulang ang public school talaga sa atin , bakit ba nila pinapayagan ang mga private school for what business?
    Sa DEP ED dapat mag benchmark muna kayo sa public school at private school para makita niyo problem

    High school

    Public school student ratio: 40 student / class minsan 3 shift pa sa sobrang dami ng student versus sa classroom
    Private school: 30 student/class

    College per Region : example
    Region 4 Laguna area = 3 lang state university or public school

    eh ang private college di na mabilang sa sobrang dami may mga international school pa

    175 billion pesos pala budget dito sa K12 education naku po lalo na tayong mga Pilipino mababaon sa kahirapan at di na makatatamasa ng free education up to college. Dati may proposal ang mga senator natin na free education up to college for 1 person sa bawat pamilya free education up to college ,ito sana ang maganda kaya lang di na natuloy.