Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

President of the Republic of the Philippines 2001 - 2010

Re-Setting the National Direction for Present and Future Filipinos


Education is indispensable for the cultivation of all other human rights; it buttresses individual self-determination, empowerment and national development. Recognizing our human resources as a major constraint on economic and social development, the government from the start of the Arroyo presidency sought to put substantially more resources into the expansion and improvement of the educational system, leading ultimately to a strategic overhaul both in the formal and informal arenas.

Upon ascendancy to leadership, among the President's priority developmental strategies was the augmentation of educational and training programs, increased accessibility and overall improvement of the educational system--all designed to support and maximize the potential of our nation's human capital. Acute attention was paid to policy reforms aimed at eliminating illiteracy, increasing access to primary education, and advancement of higher education and vocational training.

Without adequate funding however, ambitious reforms cannot take flight. Thus, to ensure advancement in the education sector, government invested heavily, more than doubling the combined budgets of the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) on the President's watch, from less than P100 billion before 2001 to P235.2 billion by 2010.

I. Enhancing Vital Resources for Teaching and Learning

Over the last nine years, the government has infused more resources to schools to create an environment that is more conducive to learning. By 2010, these resources totaled to a P24-billion budget, almost four times higher than the P6.6 billion allocated for the same purposes in 2000.

Since 2001, a total of 115,783 new classrooms have been built. This rapid rate of construction became possible with the pump-priming strategy of the government and its support for Principal-led construction of school buildings, allowing for structures to be completed within a shorter period of time. Together with the expansion of the GASTPE voucher program to subsidize private high school enrollment, this wide-scale construction of classrooms helped reduce the number of schools with 3 or 4 class shifts from 338 in 2002 to only 121 in 2009.

Massive investments also went into creating teacher and principal items to support the school-based management approach under BESRA, which enables schools to manage their own funds. From 2001 to 2009, a total of 75,172 Teacher I items and 9,652 Principal I and Head Teacher Items were created. Despite increasing enrolments, these developments helped in maintaining the teacher-pupil ratio at a manageable 1:36 for elementary and 1:49 for secondary.

Likewise, with the nationwide distribution of some 154.5 million copies of textbooks to schoolchildren, there is now a 1:1 pupil to textbook ratio in 29 elementary and secondary subjects.

In this age of modern technology, information and communications technology has proven to be a great tool in making almost all things easier. The trend nowadays is to use ICT in delivering basic services to the people. The government realized that education has to be modernized as well in terms of teaching and learning processes. Thus, the Computerization Programs and Internet Connectivity Project of the DepEd were implemented to enable both teachers and students to make use of ICT in teaching and in learning. Under this project, computer units and multimedia equipment were delivered to elementary and high schools nationwide. As of December of 2009, 5,396 out of the 6,650 high schools have already been provided with computer laboratories, with the gap expected to be closed by early 2010, and 3,992 high schools now have internet connection.

Apart from providing computer units and laboratories, the government is collaborating with stakeholders from the private sector and non-government organizations to promote curriculum enhancement through ICT as part of the modernization program in education to ensure that students are ready to engage in technological activities today.

Because sanitation and hygiene directly affect the academic and co-curricular performance of students, the government was aggressive in providing schools with water and sanitation (WATSAN) facilities, constructing a total of 6,804 new WATSAN units and repairing / rehabilitating 326 units. This also serves to prevent the outbreak of diseases that are caused by the absence of regular sanitation facilities in some public schools.

To address the issue of iron deficiency and malnutrition as an aggravating factor in unsatisfactory academic performance, the government, through the DepED and other line agencies, implemented massive investments for School Feeding and Food for School Programs, which cater to students in pre-school and Grades 1 to 6 in the food-poor priority areas. In 2008, a total of 2,781,940 preschool and elementary pupils benefited from these programs. Also, because of these feeding programs, malnutrition incidence dropped from 29% in 2002 to 16% in 2009.

II. Promoting the Welfare and Professional Growth of our Educators

Much of a country's advancement lies in the hands of its educators. Theirs is the noble task of building the minds of the youth and, consequently, shaping the future of the Nation. Thus, to truly raise the quality of education, teachers must be qualified and competent. This is why safeguarding their best interests is of utmost importance.

Recent years saw an increase in teachers' salaries, with entry level salary rising from P9,466 in 2000 to P14, 198 in 2009. Not only does this ensure that public teachers receive compensation that is at par with, if not better than, what is being given to teachers in private institutions, it also places the DepEd in a better position to select the most competent educators.

To safeguard their hard-earned income and protect teachers from usurious interest rates when contracting loans, the Automatic Payroll Deduction System underwent restructuring. This has resulted in lenders being required to lower their interest rates if they wish for DepEd to automatically deduct repayments for their loans directly from teachers' salaries. Lenders were also required to go through re-accreditation processes to validate their integrity and weed-out companies that take advantage of teachers. Now, interest rates are down to 10.9% to 12% (plus an additional 6% for other charges, with 24% effective interest) from 76% to 108% prior to 2001.

The coverage for Hardship Pay was also expanded to include mobile teachers, NFE coordinators, and multi-grade teachers who are assigned the difficult task of bringing education within reach of disadvantaged groups throughout the country.

To arrive at a holistic development strategy that will elevate the status of our teachers, promoting their welfare should go hand in hand with supporting their professional and personal growth. Understanding this, the government significantly expanded the opportunities for growth and learning available to teachers, spending an aggregate of P4.4 billion from 2005 to 2010 for training programs benefiting some 370,000 teachers.

On the tertiary level, a total of 3,128 faculty scholars were trained under the Faculty Development Program and the President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Science and Engineering Graduate Scholarships (PGMASEG) from 2004 to 2009, with the P344,089 average amount spent for each faculty member pushing total costs to P1.16 billion. As of 2009, with tertiary faculty population totaling 129,979, a majority or 55% (72,153) have a bachelor's degree, 35% (45,156) hold a master's degree, and 10% (12,670) have doctorate degrees. These figures are a marked improvement over the 26.14% with masters and 8.28% with PhD in 2000 - 2001.

Growth opportunities were also extended to university and college presidents and administrators to hone their management skills and address concerns regarding institutional governance. A total of 1,629 such school officials completed training under the Administrators' Executive Leadership Training Program.

Using modern electronic technology to enhance the learning experience and widen the scope of learning opportunities, the government invested in specialized training programs such as the E-Training for Science and Mathematics Teachers and the Training on Robotics Applications for Teaching High School Physics Program. A total of 415 science teachers and 401 mathematics teachers in the elementary and secondary levels have benefited from the E-Training Program in 13 e-learning institutions nationwide in 2006 and 2007. The program aims to provide learning opportunities even for teachers who are unable to physically attend trainings. On the other hand, the Training on Robotics Applications for Teaching High School Physics Program had a total of 99 physics teachers participating in 2006. The program is designed to train selected teachers on the use of robots and computers and ways to incorporate these into their curriculum.

III. Financial Assistance and Related Programs

Given the country's steadily increasing national budget for education, it shouldn't be a surprise that the Government's willingness and ability to fund financial assistance and related programs have likewise greatly improved in the last ten years. The potential of the newly-strengthened foundations of public education can not be properly maximized unless these are also accompanied by initiatives to encourage more students to participate and attend classes.

Scholarship Programs

Nearly 2 million people have benefited from scholarships extended to high school and college students as well as teachers by the government, totaling P16 billion. Furthermore, including costs of training and development and taking into account scholarships given across the board by the various agencies -- DepEd, TESDA, CHED, DOST – the figures are even more impressive: more than 2.5 million people benefiting from more than P25 billion of scholarship assistance.

Secondary Education

A significant initiative of the Government involving secondary education is the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education Program (GASTPE). At its very core, GASTPE facilitates the enrollment and subsequent education of promising students from overcrowded public schools in private high schools. The number of GASTPE grantees has been gradually increasing since 2005. In the five years from 2005 to 2010, grantee numbers doubled; they now represent a staggering estimated 48% of private high school enrollment in the country.

GASTPE ESC/EVS Grantees, 2001-2010

The PGMA Education Vouchers System (EVS) and Education Service Contracting (ESC) – both brilliant projects within the GASTPE umbrella – have benefited more than a million secondary students around the Philippines so far. With the EVS, financially struggling young citizens such as public elementary school graduates and qualified out-of-school-youths (OSYs) are given the chance to continue their education through vouchers that may be used in government-selected private high schools. This aims to accomplish both the decongestion of public schools and the improvement of the quality of secondary education for the Filipino youth. The ESC is a similarly designed project.

Another constant secondary school scholarship program worth mentioning is the continuing support of the Government for the Philippine Science High School's Specialized Secondary Program.

Higher Education

The Government, through CHED, utilizes the Higher Education Development Fund in order to provide state universities and colleges (SUCs) all over the Philippines with financial assistance and scholarships. In the last nine years more than 473,000 college students have benefited from CHED's regular Students Financial Assistance Program (STUFAP), with monetary aid amounting to a total of around P6.5 billion. On the other hand, more than 163,500 have benefited from PGMA scholarship programs from 2004 to 2009, costing the Government P1.5 billion. Finally, around 87,500 college and post-graduate students availed of scholarship grants from the DOST-Science and Technology Resource Development Program. Together, the numbers total to more than 720,000 scholarships and financial assistance grants given out from 2001 to the present, worth almost P9.6 billion.

BENEFICIARIES OF CHED'S STUFAP

Source: CHED

Aside from the aforementioned programs, the One Town One Scholar (OTOS) Program was recently jumpstarted by the Government in order to provide more than 1,000 students with the means to continue their education, granting college scholarships to poor but deserving high school graduates in more than 1,000 municipalities. Similarly, there are the following: the Student Assistance Financial Education for a Strong Republic (SAFE), with more than 43,300 beneficiaries; the PGMA-Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) with more than 15,800; the Emergency Financial Assistance for Education (E-FAST) with more than 30,800; and the New SAFE in 2008, which benefited more than 71,850 students.

A Combined Effort

Through the combined efforts of the different government agencies concerned with the education sector, there has been a rise in the quality of public education and a corresponding positive response from the Filipino youth in terms of the number of students willing to attend class and learn. It is the Government's hope to continue on this path to excellence, paved by the many implemented projects and programs that have worked together to respond to the Filipino people's need for accessible and quality education at all levels.

LIST OF PROGRAMS ACCORDING TO IMPLEMENTING AGENCY

Source: Department of Education

IV. Advancements in Technical Vocational Education

It is not easy to get a job if an individual does not have a degree or has not spent a good number of years in school. Financial hardship can prevent families from sending their children to universities and colleges. However, the government recognizes that formal education need not be the only source of knowledge and learning. A person's skills should be harnessed to maximize his full potential that he can then use to improve his living condition. This is what the government considers to be the basic rationale for the reinforcement of technical and vocational education and training. Skills acquired through such programs are significant and useful tools for future employment in a very wide job market.

TESDA's technical-vocational education and training (TVET) programs are guided by the "seek-train-certify-employ" framework. TESDA seeks available jobs in both domestic and international market, then finds qualified individuals, with the help of non-government organizations, who may undergo training in order to fit the available jobs. For the year 2009 alone, TVET produced 1,903,793 graduates of its various programs.

Source: TESDA

TVET Competency Assessment and Certification

TVET is not just about simply training the individuals and then letting them go their own way after learning. To produce the best group of skilled jobseekers, TVET training standards and assessment measures, which are at par with those from various industries, are imposed to make the TVET trainees market-responsive. This is to ensure that when they go out into the real world, they perform well as professional skilled workers.

Substantive quality assurance measures and training regulations are implemented through a mandatory assessment for TVET graduates. With these assessment measures, the number of graduates with verified competence to perform skills which are at par with quality standards of industries has increased by more than four times.

Source: TESDA

TVET scholarships and other educational assistance have been provided through different TESDA programs, which include the Private Education Student Financial Assistance (PESFA), the Technical Education and Skills Development Project (TESDP), and the Pangulong Gloria Scholarships (PGS). By the end of 2009, a total of 976,191 beneficiaries availed of the PESFA grant while 130,071 benefited from the PGS assistance.

Ladderized Education Program (LEP)

An empowered society presupposes an educated youth population. These educated youth are ready to venture into the real world to look for gainful employment in order to help improve their lives and that of their families. College education is necessary for an individual to land a good-paying job. But at these times, getting a degree is not easy, since not all colleges and universities have affordable tuition and other fees.

Well aware of this problem, the President signed Executive Order No. 358 in July 2006 to institutionalize the ladderized system between technical-vocational (tech-voc) training and higher education. Under the Ladderized Education Program, units taken by students enrolled in TESDA-registered tech-voc programs are given credits equivalent to units earned in four-year college courses in CHED-recognized programs of private educational institutions, state universities and colleges, and government educational institutions. Therefore, while a student acquires the skills for the job, he also earns the units to be credited for higher education.

The Pangulong Gloria Scholarship (PGS) has allocated a total of P602 million for the LEP since 2006 and has successfully produced 98,000 graduates to date. According to CHED and TESDA, most of the beneficiaries of the ladderized system took up courses such as IT, HRM and Tourism, Engineering, Health, Teacher Education, Maritime Education, Agriculture & Fisheries and Criminology.

Eligibility for employment through TVET

To easily facilitate TVET, it has been subdivided into four areas of concentration. TESDA-administered fishery, agricultural, and trade schools nationwide provide school-based tech-voc training. Regional and provincial TESDA training centers provide trainings in selected trade areas in the different regions and provinces in the country. Meanwhile, marginalized groups who have no access to formal training and capital are supported by the community-based training programs for enterprise development, resulting into the immediate implementation of livelihood enterprises by the trainees after training. Finally, companies can also implement TVET activities through enterprise-based programs such as apprenticeship and learnership.

Senior high school students who have shown potential aptitude for technical-vocational and entrepreneurial programs based on the results of the National Career Assessment Exam (NCAE) can also avail of TVET programs like college students. This is done through the Strengthened Technical-Vocational Education Program (STVEP) implemented by the Department of Education. A total of 282 secondary schools are implementing this improved curriculum to date. These schools help increase the production of students qualified for skills training relevant to meet the needs of the community and industry.

IV. Re-setting Educational Directions

Efficient mobilization and streamlining processes is essential for timely and satisfactory returns on any investment or venture. This is no less true for our educational system, where government found out over time that it is not enough to invest in educational infrastructure and accessibility. In order to achieve significantly better results on the key metrics of educational performance, it became obvious that the entire educational system and strategy needed to be overhauled, inside out and bottom up.

A. The Philippine Task Force for Education (PTFE)

The President thus decreed harmonization of all efforts of the three chief education agencies towards a unified goal of improving the productivity of the entire educational system. Concurrently, the President created the Presidential Task Force (PTFE) in September 2007 under Executive Order 652 authorized to work on the following:

  • Assess, plan and monitor the entire educational system
  • Recommend sound policy reforms, guidelines and strategies to further the role of education in acceleration of national development and global competitiveness
  • Design the monitoring scheme for the implementation of reforms as updated in the MTPDP under the Arroyo Administration
  • Provide direction for the establishment of the National Education Evaluation and Testing Systems

The establishment of the PTFE led to the expansion of leadership and streamlined decision making processes.

B. The Philippine Main Education Highway

Instituting the overall vision that shall steer all labors is the vital creative act that leads to subsequent success. It was thus that the "Philippine Main Education Highway" was first conceptualized. The vision statement at the heart of this fundamental redirection of efforts is as follows: "Every Filipino child is assured of the opportunity to get high quality education that will make him or her a whole person, a responsible citizen, and lead him or her to a successful entrepreneurial venture".

The "Philippine Main Education Highway" was born out of the overriding objective to attain a more globally competitive education system via the institution and implementation of educational reforms. This vision thus incorporates two major elements- tighter linkage of tertiary education with industry, and provision of lifelong learning mechanisms and interventions . This mandate was adopted for immediate execution under Executive Order No. 781, issued on January 2009. All educational activities thenceforth are directed toward the following objectives:

  • Improvement in the quality of basic education, increase in student achievement and improve retention rate towards a zero drop-out rate.
  • Improvement in teacher competencies and a continuous faculty development.
  • Harmonization of the technical, vocational and higher education systems.
  • Tightening of the higher-education-industry linkage in order to best attain compatibility between the requirements of industry and skill/competencies acquired by students.
  • The upgrade of professional licensure examinations in order to respond to the constant rapid changes in the practice of professions.
  • Improvement of the management, regulatory and coordination capabilities of the three education agencies of the government.
  • Improvement of financial assistance to private education and budgetary appropriations to SUCs.

Apart from setting National goals, establishing the agenda and direction for each sub-sector in the Educational system is also obviously crucial. Goals for each sub-education sector were thus set as follows:

1. Early Childhood Development Education-

  • Expand present ECCD coverage to reach all 5-year olds
  • Adopt the Standard School Readiness Assessment to determine the readiness of 5 year olds to enter Grade 1
  • Review and amend the ECCD Law
  • Implement Early Childhood Education in Teacher Education curricula
  • Provide health and nutrition services as part of daycare, pre-school, elementary and high school
  • Implementation of the Standardized Curriculum as per EO 685.

2. Basic Education-

  • Close the gap
  • - Build 6,000 classrooms a year

    - Adopt Double Shift Classes

    - Expand Service Subcontracting/Provide Scholarship for Students to Study in Private High Schools


  • Install Distance Learning in Conflict Areas
  • Provide Computers in Every High School
  • Upgrade Math, Science, and English
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Institutionalize Values Formation in Day Care, Prep and Basic Education
  • Strengthen Madrasah and Indigenous Peoples Education
  • Upgrade the Quality of Pre- and In-service Training of Teachers
  • Promote School-based Management and Governance
  • Rationalize the Basic Education Budget through more collaborative partnership with the private sector

3. Technical Vocational Education and Training-

  • Ladderized Interface of TVET to Higher Education
  • Provide Scholarship for TVET Students
  • Institutionalize Job-Skill Matching
  • Intensify and Expand Enterprise-based Training
  • Intensify Availability of Skill-specific Training for domestic and overseas labor market
  • Establish Community Colleges

4. Higher Education-

  • Provide Scholarship/Financial Assistance for College Students
  • Institutionalize Pre-baccalaureate as Bridging Program to College
  • Institutionalize a System for Articulation/ Recognition of Prior Learning within the Philippine National Qualifications Framework thru Ladderization and Equivalency
  • Upgrade the Quality of Higher Education Curriculum
  • Rationalize Governance and Financing for Higher Education Institutions

A Metamorphosis of the System, a Promising Future for all Filipinos

Presently we stand on an enhanced educational foundation with the potential to unleash a multitude of positive outcomes on an individual, societal and national level. Educational institutions are agencies for cultural transmission as well as possessing the capacity to set in motion events that bring about societal change. Our educational reforms now comprise specialized forms of instruction and socialization, catering to Filipinos from a wide range of religious, political and societal affiliations, bringing with them the seeds of a more socially cohesive, nationally harmonious state of affairs.

From an economic view point, the prescription for national progress is quite straightforward: instill in people through formal education and training the attitudes, values and aptitudes that encourage economic advancement. At the same time, the multitude of investments, training programs, organizational and curricular reforms--all aimed at elevating our peoples' expertise in a multitude of areas—have also served to deepen the awareness among students of the profound relationships between education and other major areas of social interaction: the economy, the family, polity and religion, the development of critical capabilities in technology driven by global standards. Advancing curriculums to become more relevant to national concerns, simultaneously raises our students' awareness of critical issues of development, and with this, every student's capacity to contribute to the overall growth and progress becomes more significant and powerful.

Secretary Mona Valisno. Department of Education 2010 Technical Report.

Resources:

The Department of Education.

The State of the Nation Address 2010 Technical Report.

The Department of Education 2010 Technical Report.