Features and Historical Aspects of the Philippines Educational system

Sajid Musa, Rushan Ziatdinov. (2012). Features and historical aspects of the Philippines educational system, European Journal of Contemporary Education 2(2), 155-176 [PDF].


This article deals with the features of the Philippine educational system. Additionally, brief and concise information will be given on how the educational system came into existence, the organization and the structure of the system itself. This paper also tackles the obstacles and problems observed in the past and up to the present, and gives possible solutions to these. We also made sure to give some useful recommendations and suggestions on how the education system can be improved, which were enlightened by the steps taken by some wealthy neighboring countries in the region. Based on the study, further understanding of the shortcomings of the country, not only in education but also in the essential aspect of nationalism, were found. The originality of this work can be seen in the brief explanation of the Philippine educational system, as well as its historical aspects, and the detailed comparison of different eras of the educational system.

  1. Introduction

The educational system of the Philippines has a long and complicated history. Probably the first comprehensive research conducted dealing with the supposed medium language of teaching was accomplished by Andrew Gonzalez (1992, 1998), who also discussed the educational system of the Philippines and its historical aspects, together with the interlocking conflicts and resulting problems of higher education in the Philippines. Catherine Young (2002) discussed the Pilipino language as the medium of instruction in the country’s educational system, as well as proposed an alternative, ideological model of literacy which develops the critical thinking skills of Filipino students, builds cognitive and affective domains, and values their local language experience and culture. The absence of detailed comparisons (see Table 1) of different stages of development of the educational system, and a brief and concise explanation of the challenges in the educational system, was a great opportunity for us to undertake this research.

Curriculum policies, such as the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines Article XIV, are usually set forth by the Department of Education, Culture and Sports of the Philippines with different bulletins, circulars, memoranda, orders and plans. These bodies of government are sorted by national priority and contribute to the success of development goals (Mariňas & Ditapat 1995). However, few of the laws passed by the national legislation regarding the school curriculum: Section 3(10), Article XIV of the Constitution mandate the study of the Philippines Constitution; Section 6, Article XIV, implement Filipino as the main language of instruction; Section 19(2), Article XIV, declares that: “All the educational institutions throughout the country shall undertake regular sports activities in cooperation with athletic clubs and other sectors”. Republic Act No. 4723 ordered the teaching of music in schools. The newly curriculum-specific laws designate:

a) Lengthening of the school calendar from 185 to not less than 200 school days per school year;
b) Integration of concepts on human rights, the environment, dangerous drugs and computer education.

Table 1 [please check the PDF version]

Main Results

In this paper, we look at the past in order to ascertain the background on how the educational system came to be in its present form. It started from the early Filipino settlers, followed by the various changes in the different eras, covered by the Spaniards, the Americans and the Japanese. After exploring the history and dealing with respective changes, this will allow us to pinpoint the problems of the present.

Our work has the following features:

  • The previous works in this field have been compared with the present one in a very thorough way;

  • The summarized view of the advantages and disadvantages of the educational system have been researched from the early Filipino settlers, during the reign of the colonizers through to today’s current conditions;

  • The rankings of the country’s leading universities among all the universities around the globe and Asia are shown in the context of different individual areas.

There are also however several deficiencies:

  • This work describes the educational system in general, but does not deal with problems in specific areas like science and engineering education, which are highly-developed in neighboring countries;

  • The impact of information technologies on educational systems is not discussed at all, despite the fact that it is very important in education these days;

  • Since progress is observed in the country’s neighboring countries, we lack further explanation on that, and how to be ‘like them’, without becoming non-nationalistic.

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