Sunday, June 11, 2006

With education, quality is important

Once again, students and teachers (that includes me) are gearing up for the opening of classes this Tuesday. As always, talks related to education is at the forefront, and as always, the issue of shortage of classrooms has been tackled, yet again. Funny that we have known about the problem since time immemorial and yet have not found any real solution to it. Are we really addressing the problem head on? The president thinks she has found a solution to the problem. As a matter of fact, it resulted in the tongue-lashing (of) Acting Secretary Fe Hidalgo of DepEd received at the May 30 Cabinet meeting with reference to supposedly (giving a) wrong information on classroom shortages. Her solution is very simple as this article reports.

PRESIDENT Arroyo declared Tuesday that her government has licked the perennial problem of classroom shortage. This she did by applying a new formula to estimate the demand for classrooms.

Instead of the ideal ratio of 45 students to a class used for years by the Department of Education, Arroyo says the ratio of 100 students to a class should be adopted.

Excuse me but is the President that naive? Is this a simple mathematical problem? Why do I sense a famous "eat-cake-because-there=is-no-bread" stance made by a beheaded French queen? No, it may not be as callous but it is just as absurd. Has the President forgotten that when it comes to education, quality is important? For quality to be had, there should be a lesser student to teacher ratio so that the teacher can attend to more students that he/she possibly can. I have taught a class size of 42 and believe me, it was very hard. As it is, the present 45 students/classroom of the DepEd is a lot. Increase that to a 100 students crumped in a small classroom would mean chaos. How will there be education when there is chaos? I can just imagine testosterone-filled teen-agers in one classroom and I know it would be a teacher's nightmare.

In fairness to the DepEd, it has tried to solve the problem but to no avail. In his article TO ALL WHO CARE TO HEAR: THERE IS A REAL CLASSROOM SHORTAGE IN THIS COUNTRY, former education undersecretary Juan Miguel Luz stated:

To deal with this problem of overcrowding, DepEd embarked on an interim strategy in SY 2003-2004 (under Secretary Edilberto de Jesus) to do double-shifts in the most overcrowded schools so that classrooms could be used TWICE in one day. Hence, the “classroom-to-student” ratio is actually twice the number of students per class because the room is used twice a day by two classes (morning and afternoon) rather than by just one class (for the entire day).

To me, this is more logical than what the president suggests. Still, Luz finds this to be far from ideal for (T)he truth is, however, that a classroom should only be used by one class per day (especially in the higher grades) because double or even triple-shifting takes away class time from students.

Another solution being undertaken by the DepEd is the GASTPE or Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education whereby the government pays private schools subsidies so that students of low income families can enrol in these schools. When the government subsidy is not enough, the schools help in subsidizing these indigent students. But how many students can benefit from this program? Luz offers us the numbers, thus:(GASTPE)paid for over 382,000 students from low-income families to study in over 1700 private high schools nationwide at a rate of P4000 per student. That may be a lot, but how many enrollees do we expect this year? In schoolyear 2006-07, DepEd expects to enroll 12.4 million elementary pupils and 5.5 million secondary students. You do the math. Besides, how many private schools are willing to help? Will there be more than 1700?For how long? Whether we like it or not, private schools have to look at the business side of the equation. The GASTPE would mean not only displacing a student who is willing to pay full for his/her tuition fee, but will also add cost on the part of the school.

Unfortunately, the only solution remaining is to build more classrooms. But then, granting again that the government, wistful thinking as it is, is able to build more classrooms, will there be enough teachers? Alas, that is altogether another dilemma we have to face. In my school alone, more and more teachers are going abroad to teach. And the list goes on and on.


tintin said...

Gloria studied at an Ivy League institution? She should go back to school then, and take Logic 101 yet again. I'm so furious at her suggestion I could start cussing. But I won't. Respectfully yours, tin.

Anonymous said...

Nakakatawa. Nalutasan ang classroom shortage by fiddling with the ratio. Parang sinabi na piso na lang kada litro ng gasolina, pero ang litro ay sinlaki na lang ng kutsara. Galing tala ni Ate Glue.

Anonymous said...

Tito Rolly, I was appalled by GMA's behavior/attitude when I saw on TV how she berated the DepEd chief for telling the truth. I don't think you need to be summa cum laude or have a doctorate degree to know that we have a classroom shortage and we have it every year as far back as I can remember.

I was also wondering: the DepEd program sends public school students to the private schools BUT we also know that a lot of students from the private schools move to the public schools because they can no longer afford private school tuition fees. So does this GASTPE program really work?

Lastly, here in Negros Occidental, a Filipino-Chinese civic organization has been building classrooms out of their own pockets. The landowner donates, the civic org builds. We should have more corporations and civic organizations doing this. It's high time we realize that the government alone cannot improve the quality of Phil. education ... each of us must help in whatever way we can.

rolly said...

tintin Just goes to prove that it's not in the school, eh? Thank God you didn't cuss. There are students in this blog - minors, you see. :-)

jorge sinabi mo pa. Akala yata nya, naniniwala tayong totoo magic eh.

bugsy Maybe it's time we berate her for either believing she's solved the problem, or that, thinking we'll bite.

Yes, it seems like the private sector has to dip their hands on this one. If they're business is not yet in a deep slump, that is.

Vicky said...

I have several questions -why is a cabinet meeting being televised? why did Acting Sec. Fe Hidalgo try to steal the show from the President by putting her on the spot and present a problem that she (Hidalgo and her department) is supposed to be solving. A president does not do the dirty work but direct the cabinet to execute her programs. She is lucky that I was not GMA or I would have sacked her on the spot for being inefficient in her job. hehehe... PMS lang seguro yan. Dapat before they go live on TV, they should rehearse first. They should talk about achievements to motivate the people. Yung problems should be talked about behind closed doors. yung classroom shortage was already a prob since I could remember- but we got by and look i did get a uni degree! Nasa student yan. I still respect GMA more for her courage and guts to lead the filipino people. Who is a strong contender- Susan Roces? common guys we have put her in office (even though people think she got it through dubious means) let's give her a chance if we criticise, propose something positive. I would not like to be in her position as I'd rather spend time with my family. Gloria was a classmate of former Pres. Clinton or Pres George Bush? So she must have the calibre to lead a potentially powerful nation than most of us- afterall she is just the daughter of a former president too she is also a wife and mother. What more qualifications does she need- all she needs is cooperation and respect from the people while she is still holding the position and not being impeached. Yeah- how come she is still the president? I don't really understand Filipino politics. We put someone there to lead us then we crucify them....i am glad am oceans away....but am still proud to be a pinay. My message to the students there, look at the positive side of it- make the lack of classroom a learning experience that under any circumstances you are there to learn for your own sake. It should challenge the creativity of teachers and test the patience of students. :-)

rolly said...

vicky I didn't personally saw that tv news item so I cannot respond accurately with the first question and the other statements related to it.

"A president does not do the dirty work but direct the cabinet to execute her programs."

i agree but based on the article, she did solve the problem on her own. Now I don't know it she was owning an act of a cabinet member as the principle of delegation of power states that the act of a subordinate is the act of the leader, or it was really her who came up with the solution.

Lest you misconstrue that my post is just for the sake of criticism, this is actually the first time I mentioned the president in my blog in this way. As a matter of fact, there had been posts here where I even defended the President in some sort of way. I am neither for or against Gloria. i only react to news articles I read. That said, thanks for your comment.

rolly said...

jeesh, I meant I didn't personally "see"... how dumb can I be?

Vicky said...

don't worry, we do typo errors and being filipinos we are allowed some grammatical errors- and as a teacher we are only are not dumb at all- didn't even notice it until you mentioned it. As for the "sermon", before I even read your blog I was reading the same topic in my other group forum discussing the same topic. I must have carried over my reaction to your blog after reading some really negative comments. Believe me, I've always enjoyed your missives and have in fact read your posts in the archives. Readers will have different interpretations and some may not always conform with yours. Healthy arguments are good for some goodness may result out of it.

cbs said...

i went to public school in elementary where every grade had 13 sections and every section had 50 pupils. in the aftermath of typhoons we had to walk through floodwater and attend classes under trees, and in the height of dry season we find allies in the pipes as we drank steaming tapwater straight from the faucet. our foundation was built right at that school because of 2 things we learned up front: education should not be confined within the 4 corners of the classroom - literally, figuratively; and, nothing should ever hinder our pursuit for education - not lack of amenity, and certainly not the absence of luxury.

glomac is just a fraction of the problem. it is our collective selves that should never be taken out of the equation.

Anonymous said...

being an academician myself, I know how it is to handle a large class. Baka yong nasa likod nagchechess na lang kagaya ng ginawa namin noong high school not because we were large in number but the teacher was busy making tsismis with the other teacher.

class sizes have been a problem as far as I can remember. there is no solution if there are no additional school buildings to accommodate the growing school population every year.

Funny but when you look at the bills proposed, laws that were passed in Congress are for the nationalization of some public schools in order for them to qualify to receive budgets from the national government. Most of pork barrel of the solons are either spent on roads and school. NASAAN YONG MGA SCHOOLS NA YON?

The positions of teachers in the Department of Education are alleged to be up for sale to the highest bidders. How true is this?
So ang mga natatanggap na teachers ay ang mga walang karapatan. Puwede ba.

The Ca t

rolly said...

Vicky Thanks. I do encourage a healthy discussion in my blog. My commenters are free to air out their sentiments as long as it's confine to the topic and not a personal attack. ;-)

cbs Education should is not really confined in the four corners of the classroom. Lessons are learned everywhere, anytime, everytime. All I am saying is that classrooms are equally important and we have to address this problem now. Thanks for visiting and your comment.

Cat It seems like the only solution left is to build more schools with more classrooms to accomodate more students. And yes, there is money allotted to education. nawawala nga lang. Magic!

Anonymous said...

The problem of shortage in classrooms is a problem in many countries, including Malaysia. I have known about this problem since my first year in school. We do a double shift. There are morning classes and afternoon classes.

Of course, it cannot be solved by a simple mathematical formula. Apart from the classrooms there are other resources to think about, such as school teachers, facilities, logistics, etc. I think in Malaysia we also have a ratio of one class to 45 students but some 20+ years ago I was already teaching classes of up to 50 students.

Malaysia is trying very hard to make the schools into single-shift schools. I think we are winning but progress is slow because it takes a lot of will and resources to see through this. We now have some schools functioning on a single shift basis, something totally unheard of a few years ago. I understand the Education Department is trying to convert a few schools at a time, mindful of the budget. But at least the effort is bearing fruit.

rolly said...

Bayi Never mind how long it will take to solve the problem as long as they're trying to fix it sincerely, huh?