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Philippines

Jesuit educator decries state of education in Philippines

Country is in the midst of a learning crisis, seminar told

Marielle Lucenio, Manila

Marielle Lucenio, Manila

Updated: September 18, 2019 09:21 AM GMT
Jesuit educator decries state of education in Philippines

Children troop to a school in Manila at the start of a new semester in June. (Photo by Jire Carreon) 

A leading Jesuit educator in Manila has decried what he described as the sorry state of education in the Philippines, saying "miseducation is systemic."

Jesuit priest Jose Ramon Villarin, president of Ateneo de Manila University, said the country's institutions "are weak and they can be bought."

He said that it seems development in education depends on "who's in power and who has the money."

The priest, who also heads the Synergeia Foundation, stressed before a gathering of educators in Manila on Sept. 18 the need for the teaching of "good manners and right conduct" in schools.

The Synergeia Foundation is an organization of individuals and institutions that are working to improve the quality of basic education in the country.
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Father Villarin said it is important to teach children "to be angry at what’s wrong ... as children are always on the fringes of adult concerns."

The priest called on leaders of educational institutions "to worry about what they are planting today, to worry about their future."

"We know as leaders that these children are ours. They belong to us. In faith, they belong to God. Let us not mistreat them and shoo them away," he said.

Dr. Gabriel Demombynes, program leader for human development of the World Bank, told the same gathering that the Philippines has a "learning crisis."

He said that among the country's limitations is malnutrition that has caused children to leave school at an early age.

The World Bank also reported that one in three Filipino children has stunted growth.

Demombynes also noted that overcrowded schools and a lack of learning materials are common concerns that must be addressed.

"Schooling is not the same as learning," he said. "It is not enough to get children to school, but to ensure that they are learning," he added.

A report released early this year by advocacy group Philippine Busi­ness for Education noted that while change has come to Philippine education it is "but only passably so."

The group noted that early childhood comprehension remains poor "with more than a third of Filipino children scoring zero on both reading and listening."

It added that achievement scores for both elementary and secondary levels "have also stalled at 59 percent, well below the 77 percent national target."

Ramon del Rosario Jr., chairman of the group, said the country has yet to translate its successes in education into actual learning, "the kind that prepares our people for the global economy."

He said Fili­pino graduates still "lack the skills demanded by industry and the Philippines has one of the highest rates of youth un­employment" in Asia.

According to the Interna­tional Labor Organization, 21.7 percent of young people in the Philippines were “not in education, employment or training" as of 2017.

The Philippine Statistics Authority released the results of a study in Novem­ber 2018 noting that Filipino families are "most deprived" in education.

The report said that "six out of 10 families in 2016 and five out of 10 families in 2017 were deprived of basic education." 

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