The Eightfold Path of the Decentralization of the Philippine Public Schools:
Analysis of the Governance of Basic Education Act of2001
May Anne Joy D. Romanes
Master of Arts in Education - Educational Administration
“Policy analysis is a social andpolitical activity.” (Bardach & Patashnik, 2016).
Major education surveys and missions have labeled Philippine education as problematic from the period of 1925 to 2000. One of the major findings from these reports was the excessive centralization of the Philippine education. On the positive side, as time has passed, people have become more receptive to new policy ideas. Republic Act (RA) 9155, or the Governance of Basic Education Act of 2001, has helped the Department of Education (DepEd) reach its present “improved” status. In this paper, the said Act is examined using the Bardach and Patashnik model (2016). The majority of the references written before the passage of the law were studied to look into the history of problems and events that influenced the drafting of the law.
The Bardach and Patashnik model involves the analysis of eight stages of policy cycle. Each part will be explained in the succeeding paragraphs.
Step One: Define the Problem
It has been common knowledge that no education system is perfect. Each country has a long history ofhow its educational system evolved through time to provide better solutions to the arising problems and meet its stakeholders’ expectations. Having said this, it is imperative to give close attention to as much relevant data and recommendations as possible to define the problem.
During the American occupation of the Philippines, the Americans saw the need to have a large-scale survey to determine the status of education in the country. The Philippine Legislature no. 3162 (1924) was passed to create a Board of Educational Survey composed of 3 appointed members by the Secretary of Public Instruction, technical assistants, advisers, and clerks to survey all public and private educational institutions, facilities, and agencies in the Philippines. However, due to some unexpected circumstances, another Act, the Philippine Legislature no. 3196 (1924), was passed to fill the vacancies and reconstitute the board members. The Board started their work, more popularly known as Monroe Survey, in January 1925. Their tasks involved observation, visitations, conferences, and research. To ensure efficiency and timeliness, each member of the Board was assigned to different areas of their work (Board of Educational Survey, 1925). It can be noted that much time was spent studying the status of educational institutions and organizations in Manila as compared to the country’s provinces. Among the fundamental issues found by the Monroe Survey were the variations in language instruction; inadequate supply of professionally trained teachers, school heads, and supervisors; lack of school facilities that were suitable to the country’s climate and possible risks of weather disasters; lack of contextualization of education to meet the needs of the country; highly centralized administration of public education; and unsatisfactory private school education with exception to those run by religious groups (Board of Educational Survey, 1925). Monroe Survey was labeled as the first most comprehensive survey of the Philippine Education (Angara, 2011, as cited in the Senate Journal [Session no. 85], 2011).
The problems raised in the Monroe Survey report were worth to be discussed even at this time. Most of them were strategically important, such that if one problem is solved, other issues would somehow be solved, too. For instance, addressing the problem in teacher quality could answer the issue on the practicality of the education back then, since teachers would be more knowledgeable to determine how to adapt the curriculum to the needs and values of the community.
Another exploration followed the problems identified in the Monroe Survey in 1925. The Economic Survey of the Bureau of Education in 1929 was carried out to evaluate the country's economic conditions (Magno, 2010; Sobritchea, 1989). This survey confirmed a problematic area identified in the Monroe Survey—the growing gap between vocational education in secondary schools and the needs of the economy. Also, the report pointed out the decreasing interest of young Filipinos in agriculture, especially the women (Philippine Commonwealth Department of Public Instruction, 1929, as cited by Sobritchea, 1989).
In 1948, the Philippine government requested the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to ask for a mission to survey the status of Philippine education (Lewis, 1949). Similar to the Monroe Survey, the UNESCO Mission was completed in months. In this period, the Mission members visited over 1,000 classrooms in public and private schools and teacher training institutions in 27 out of 50 provinces in the country (Lewis, 1949). Although the scale of this survey mission was not as extensive as that of Monroe’s, it echoed what the previous survey pointed out decades ago. Some of the significant problems identified in the survey were the differences in the language of instruction, including having around 80 native dialects, Tagalog, English, and Spanish; insufficient facilities for education; having more than 50% illiteracy rate among citizens over ten years old; lack of training of teachers; and failure of the 10year basic education program to prepare students for entrance in universities and colleges (Lewis, 1949).
The Monroe, Economic, and UNESCO surveys were three of the most popular explorations of the country’s educational status in different decades. Some other surveys and missions followed, whichjust confirmed the findings of their predecessors. Bautista et al. (2009) pointed out that the problems described in Monroe’s survey persisted until the 1990s, which deemed the need to establish the Congressional Commission on Education, also known as EDCOM.
The EDCOM reported many significant findings about the status of Philippine education in 1991. Like its predecessors, the EDCOM criticized the deterioration of the quality of education (Bautista et al., 2009). In addition to not meeting the expectations in the basic education, technical- vocational, and higher education graduates, low investment in education was also found (Bautista et al., 2009). This was an important observation since all programs, projects, and activities in schools and other educational institutions involve a budget. Another important finding was the poor management of the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports due to its excessive centralization (Bautista et al., 2009). EDCOM was tagged as the “second most comprehensive survey of the Philippine education,” following the Monroe Survey (Angara, 2011, as cited in the Senate Journal [Session no. 85], 2011).
One news article in a foreign newspaper published four years before the EDCOM report concurred with their findings. In an article in Los Angeles Times, Fineman (1987) noted several issues that arose based on their months-long study of rural elementary schools. It can be noted that the Philippines wasjust freed from the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos at the time the study was carried out. Among the significant findings were the rising dropout rates; the lack of textbooks, blackboards, chalk, tables, and chairs; the politicization of school constructions; lack in quality of school facilities built; existing peace and order situation at that time; lack of teacher morale; underpaid teachers; heavy bureaucracy in the education system; and worst, inefficient education administrators (Fineman, 1987).
Despite being confirmed by an international news organization and the importance placed on EDCOM findings, Former Senate President Edgardo Angara, who headed the Commission in the 1990s, admitted that significant recommendations were not acted upon (Manila Bulletin, 2020). The Philippine Education Sector Study (1998, as cited by Bautista et al., 2009) confirmed that only 13 out of 30 EDCOM program recommendations were adopted. Despite this, the results of the EDCOM report were still valuable up to this time. Just last year, five senators proposed reestablishing EDCOM to review, assess, and evaluate the country’s education at all levels (Manila Bulletin, 2020).
Primarily influenced by the EDCOM report, the Presidential Commission on Educational Reform (PCER) was established in 1998 under Executive Order no. 46. This Commission was created to recommend comprehensive and feasible reforms in education (Executive Order no. 46, 1998). Two of the problems intended to be addressed by the reforms were the lack of human resource development initiatives; and the limited options for the medium of instruction in Grade 1 (PCER, 2000, as cited by Tiaga, n.d.).
In the same year with the PCER Report, the Project Teacher Assistance for Optimum WellBeing (TAO) was carried out. A nationwide survey was conducted under this project to get more extensive data about the public school teachers’ profiles and working conditions (Southeast Asian Minister of Education, Organization, Innovation, and Technology [SEAMEO-INNOTECH], n.d.). TAO survey found a much lower education budget in the country as compared to its Asian counterparts; lack of basic school facilities and utilities; lack of classrooms conducive to learning; lack of education and training of public school teachers and principals; limited support and compensation to the teachers; and lack of qualified teaching applicants (Inter Press Service, 2000).
Educational surveys conducted within 75 years (1925-2000) provided similar results. Numerous reforms could have done in between the decades; however, the same problems persisted. Problems in the quality of the education personnel, budget, curriculum, and administration haunted the country for a long time. Action is needed to provide sound solutions to these issues, which lead us to the next step—assemble some evidence.
Step Two: Assemble Some Evidence
The issues enumerated in the previous surveys were analyzed based on the themes relevant to the analysis of the Governance of Basic Education Act of 2001. Among the themes identified were teaching and learning, governance, and human resource development. Table 1 shows the summary of problems identified in the seven education surveys grouped by theme.
Summary of problems identified in the educational surveys grouped by theme.
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Superscripts: 1 - Monroe Survey; 2 - Economic Survey; 3 - UNESCO Mission; 4 - EDCOM Report; 5 - LA Times; 6 - PCER Report; 7 - TAO Survey.
The themes used in categorizing the problems were lifted from the DepEd Order (DO) on Basic Education Research Agenda (BERA) (DepEd, 2016). Among the seven BERA themes, only three fit the scope and nature of the problems identified in the previous surveys. Most of these issues fell under governance, which already said a lot about the strategic importance of selecting better policy alternatives. However, this does not intend to neglect the significance of solving concerns in teaching and learning and human resource development. One aspect that made these two areas as necessary as the governance theme was the massive chunk of what constitutes DepEd—the personnel. Teaching and learning involved concerns related to the curriculum implementation; hence, it dealt with the knowledge and skills learned by the students. If DepEd becomes successful in teaching and learning, it will be able to realize its vision of producing Filipinos with values and competencies that enable them to contribute to national development (DepEd, n.d.). Similarly, overcoming the challenges in human resource development would contribute mainly to addressing problems in governance and teaching and learning themes.
Though the problems listed in these three themes seemed to have already put the country into the sinkhole, it is essential to note that other countries experienced similar problems in the same period when the surveys were conducted. In 1948, Muta (2000) cited that the Japan Board of Education Law decried centralized public schools. The Americans were then convinced that Japan's centralized management had resulted in low community participation in schools (Muta, 2000). In the US, Raizen et al. (1972) reported low quality of curriculum content in schools. A decade later, Ravitch (1990) argued that in the 1980s, the US was experiencing a deteriorating education quality, as evident by the low performance of its students. In Thailand, Nitungkom (1988) mentioned the low enrollment of Thai students in secondary schools and the country's lack of schools and facilities. Thailand was again mentioned along with Colombia and Tanzania in a World Bank paper. In that paper, Jimenez et al. (1988) cited that developing countries, including these three nations, were experiencing tight fiscal constraints in education. This finding was confirmed in another study by UNESCO, citing financial constraints as a major challenge in education (Ordonez & Maclean, 2000). Another major problem of Asian countries was the access to education (Ordonez & Maclean, 2000). In another study, the US acknowledged other areas of concern, such as the educators' lack of practical experiences; insufficient time to carry out teaching and learning tasks; and politicization of education (Harrop, 1999).
Step Three: Construct the Alternatives
Intervention strategies must be proposed to provide options and insights on how to solve and minimize the problems identified. Table 2 shows the policy options for the problems identified in Steps 1 and 2.
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Step Four: Select the Criteria
To select the best policy option(s) identified in Step 3, the criteria for prioritizing improvement areas in the DepEd School Improvement Plan (SIP) Guidebook were adapted (DepEd, 2015a). The policy options, or alternatives, were evaluated in terms of strategic importance, urgency, magnitude, and feasibility. The first criterion, strategic importance, refers to the number of other policy areas that will benefit when the when a given alternative is implemented. The second criterion, urgency, refers to urgency or need to implement the given alternatives. Magnitude, the third criterion, refers to the number of education stakeholder groups that will benefit from a policy alternative. The last criterion, feasibility, involves the number of constraints in the implementation of a given alternative. The Likert scale was adopted in scoring each alternative—1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. After which, the average of the data from each alternative was computed and interpreted. Table 3 shows the evaluation of the identified policy options in Step 3 based on the criteria mentioned.
Evaluation of the identifiedpolicy options based on strategic importance (SI), urgency (U), magnitude (M), andfeasibility (F).
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- May Anne Joy Romanes (Author), 2021, The Eightfold Path of the Decentralization of the Philippine Public Schools. Analysis of the Governance of Basic Education Act of 2001, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1035631