The Case Of Philippine Education Versus Abundant Online Material

There’s so much material on the internet that can be used in Philippine schools. So, how come the students feel short-changed with their education? Perhaps, it’s not the students that are wholly to blame for their lackluster performance.

A few days ago, Rom Feria asked why available online material isn’t being used in elementary and high schools.

One of the replies I have received was that the materials still need to be “watered-down” before it is used, meaning a Grade 8 courseware will have to be revised for Filipino 3rd year high school students! This just means that materials used by schools overseas cannot be used outright in the country. There is no one-to-one grade equivalence – grade 5 materials in the Philippines maps to grade 34 overseas!

Rom continues by posing the question, “What is the difference between a Filipino 10 year old and an American/British/Canadian/ 10 year old in terms of his/her ability to learn?”

Sabrina comments how Filipino teachers still don’t know how to make full use of the internet, let alone how to use it at all. It may well be true. Many teachers, even here in Metro Manila and in private colleges for that matter, don’t really know how to take advantage of online material. Although I don’t quite agree with this particular quote.

About the learning materials in the internet, yes, they are abundant. However, not all resources are applicable to Filipino children because of the “western” approach. Meaning, some of the ‘terms’ or ‘ideas’ used are not in the circle of experiences of a typical Filipino child. Thus, children cannot relate well with these activities. What I think we lack are local resources (of activities, worksheets, lesson plans) for teachers that can be used for or applied in their classrooms.

What terms and ideas are these that can’t be applied to the typical Filipino child? Are there things in the languages, sciences and arts that aren’t applicable to Philippine education? I don’t think so. If it’s how the child is supposed to understand that material, isn’t that why we have teachers and parents? The reminds me of a presentation last year on iBlog3. Here is an educator who teaches her students how to make the most of the internet. She even uses the internet as a tool to pique the curiosity of students. She teaches them how to separate the fact from the fiction and avoid information overload. She teachers the parents as well. She invites students and their parents to visit her blog and make use of yahoogroups. And this is PRE-SCHOOL and PRIMARY ELEMENTARY GRADE LEARNING!

I do agree with Joel. The educators are the one’s limiting a child’s development. But when we talk about educators, we’re not only talking about teachers. The parents are also educators. I would have never learned about computers if it weren’t for my dad’s foresight of buying me a Commodore Vic 20 when I was eight years old. I knew about David Attenborough at the age of four since my dad always called me whenever the naturalist’s shows were being aired on television.

It’s not a matter of every student having their own computer. But I think it’s more important right now for our educators to not only have access to the abundance of material on the web, but how to navigate through the information. Rom had once mentioned that teachers are responsible for upgrading their own skills. But there are teachers who are dead-set in their own old ways thinking that they’re so good already. (Believe me, I have an aunt who thinks like that. I indeed pity her students.) There are teachers who would like to uphold the status quo by making sure no teacher is better than them. There are teachers who don’t really know where to start. Finally, there are teachers who really do give a damn about their mission to equip their students with the knowledge needed to survive this dog-eat-dog world.

Granted that not all public schools in the Philippines have the luxury of an internet connection, I still believe that there may still be some way to upgrade the skills of teachers in remote areas who really do give a damn. It’s just a matter of bringing online material to these people. Even if you have to print these out from the web and courier it to the schools.

Adopt a school, anyone?

UPDATE June 21, 2010: There were a couple of comments from the old blog that I want to post here for posterity.

Submitted by _Greg Moreno_ on Tue, 02/05/2008 - 23:06.

I think when people say “some of the ‘terms’ or ‘ideas’ used are not in the circle of experiences of a typical Filipino child” it is not meant to “downgrade” Pinoy’s ability to learn or because it is not applicable to Philippine education. For example, a common style is to use fruits when teaching kids to count. Now, would you use mango or cranberry? If you’re writing a story about playing with friends, would you show kids playing in a snow?

Yes, counting numbers, or teaching kids to be friendly are universal concepts. It is the context that sometimes require adjustments. This is why we can’t just take educational materials abroad and use it.

Of course, if we are teaching biology we should introduce kids to fruits beyond what we see in palengkes, or if we are talking about weather patterns we should tell children that in other places of the world, there is snow.

Time for shameless plug :) I hope you join us in the “Bayanihan Books” project. We want to solve our textbook shortage and quality problems.

Submitted by _Dominique_ on Tue, 02/05/2008 - 09:01.

What’s missing in many Filipino students is the facility for critical thinking. This is what I see in the undergrad courses I’m sitting in. Everything centers on the accumulation of facts without any interconnection. They focus on “What”, “When”, and “Where” but not on “Why” and “How.” And they fail to ask the truly probing questions.

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