August 27, 2009
Sheena – Philippine education in the verge of despair
In the 2008 Times Higher Education Supplement-Quacquarelli Symonds (THES-QS) world university rankings, only two of the 2000 universities in the country are on the top 500 and not at all near the top 100. University of the Philippines is at 398th, Ateneo de Manila University at 451st, while the rest who were “in” last year (De La Salle University and University of Santo Tomas) have dropped out altogether.
What is most disheartening is that countries which used to look with jealousy at Philippine education, sending their students here some four decades ago, now have more on the list: Thailand and Malaysia have five each; Indonesia, three; Singapore, two (only because they only have two higher education institutions). Worse, our neighbors’ universities also rank higher than Ateneo or UP.
Scholars have attacked the methodology of THES-QS, especially because it tends to use a university’s level of internationalization and job recruiters’ choices as yardsticks. Some, however, defend the survey as reliable because the academic world in fact has standards that ought to be common to all and which are very measurable. The survey’s validity is seen, for example, in the fact that universities in such developing nations as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines do make it to the top 500.
So what could have gone wrong? A lot as I would say. There are a number of issues why the Philippine educational system seems to be deteriorating instead of advancing.
The economic and political instability of the country threatens Philippine education today. While many students are starving, living rough and can barely go to school; the government cannot amply support the basic education requirements because of overpopulation and budgetary limitations. Even if they (government) can, education is one of the most taken for granted, even if it’s of vital importance in this highly-competitive world.
Errors in textbooks, the inability of a significant number of elementary, high school and even higher education teachers to be internationally competitive, rising tuition fees beyond what poor and middle-class families can afford, lack of facilities to accommodate the exploding number of students, and the universities’ willingness to sell honoris causa doctorate degrees are also few of the sad issues that engulf the education in our country.
Lastly, Graft and corruption plays a vital role in all major issues confronting Philippine education. While the leaders of our country and business tycoons get rich and rich every day, millions of Filipinos are buried in debts just to send their children to underserved schools. Do they, themselves, send their children to a Philippine university? No; because they don’t trust the system in which they are involved in; a system that is transparent to them.When can this be over? It’s what children and youth see right now and I won’t be surprised if they’ll be doing the same thing their “idols” or “models” are doing. Get rid of it and we’ll be okay.