Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. V,    No. 11      April 24- 30, 2005      Quezon City, Philippines











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Education: A Low State Priority
(Last of 3 parts)

Education is an avowed priority of the state but under the present administration – like its predecessors – it does not draw an ounce of sympathy from the authorities.

By Carl Marc Ramota

The employment crisis, low salary and unrealistic professional regulation policies continue to plague the education profession. Education is an avowed priority of the state but under the present administration – like its predecessors – it does not draw an ounce of sympathy from the authorities.

In an interview with Bulatlat, Raymond Palatino, Anak ng Bayan (Sons and Daughters of the Nation) Youth Party vice president summed up the main problem: "The future of our teachers remains dim under the Arroyo administration."

In a recent statement, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) revealed that the Arroyo government's 2005 budget, signed into law March 15, has no provisions for salary increases of state workers.

Since 2001, the salaries of government employees, which include teachers, have been frozen. The last salary increases were given in 2000, a 10 percent increase (P440) and five percent in 2001 (P242).

ACT estimates that a Teacher I receives only P9,939 gross monthly salary. Compare this to what the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) says: A family of six needs P17,820 a month in order to survive. This means that there is living salary gap of P7,881.00.

A study released by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) also show that teachers in the Philippines work an average of 1,176 hours per year and teach classes of over 50 students. Definitely, whatever salary they receive does not correspond to their load of work.

Likewise in a congressional report in 2000, Rep. Jesli A. Lapus pictured the dismal state of public school teachers. Among the congressman’s findings were that teachers are paying from 36 percent to 108 percent effective interest plus fees to private lenders accredited by the Department of Education (DepEd).


The perennial delay in salary, especially for newly-hired teachers, are forcing teachers to borrow from lending institutions. This was facilitated by a payroll system that institutionalized the automatic deduction of loan payments computed by some 187 lending institutions - data which the DepEd had no control over. Furthermore, the system allowed the deduction from the teacher's loan payments of a service fee paid to DepEd personnel.

In a DepEd study conducted during the term of Secretary Roco, a teacher on the average has about 16 non-statutory deductions, including payments for insurance premiums and loans. "So numerous are the teachers' non-statutory deductions that whereas in most public and private entities a pay slip is usually about one-third the size of an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper, the DepEd pay slips run across two sheets of computer forms, with as many as 50 lines of non-statutory deductions," it stated.

Palatino, who is also a young Education graduate from the University of the Philippines, said nobody but the government should be blamed for this problem. "We can't blame our teachers for leaving the country or for working as housemaids,” he told Bulatlat. “They have all the reason to do that since the government is not giving them the right compensation and the respect they deserve as educators. It is the government's inaction to teachers' legitimate demand for salary increase and other benefits that drives more teachers and fresh Education graduates out of schools where they really belong."

 Poor performance

Lack of teaching items and low salary are not the only reasons, however, for the shortage of teachers. Apparently, many Education graduates don't pass the LET and end up being idle or underemployed

The only national assessment which can be used to gauge the quality of outputs of Teacher Education is the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET). Republic Act 3687 known as the Professionalization Act for Teachers transferred the responsibility of Teacher Certification from the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) and replaced the Professional Board Examination for
Teachers (PBET) in 1996.

The results of national licensure examinations paint a disturbing picture. The passing rate in the 1992, 1993 and 1994 national passing percentages was only 10.60, 13.78, and 26.73, respectively. In each of these three years, the numbers taking the test ranged from 130,000 to 140,000. In each of these three years, the examination repeaters constituted close to 50 percent. Every year thereafter, due to the low passing rates, the number of examinees increased significantly.

The mean performance scores in the LET have always been below 50 percent. For example, the mean scores of applicants for mathematics and science licenses in 1996 were only 39.19 and 39.60, respectively. The national mean score in Filipino (46.76) was the highest of the academic subjects in 1997.

The findings from the licensure examinations given in the last years confirm many of the findings of Dr. Lily Ann Pedro and Ma. Fe L. Augusto of the University of the
Philippines, particularly for Mathematics majors. Both studies found that, despite the Teacher Education program's provision of courses to satisfy units for a major or specialization, the graduates of many institutions do not show adequate knowledge in mathematics. Tests administered to them show very low performance scores even in basic content skills in Mathematics. The same could be said of majors in Science and other fields.


The performance scores in the General Education component of the LET reflect the abilities of the teacher examinees. In the 1996 LET, the highest score was 72 percent. However, scores as low as 4, 1 and zero percents were registered by some examinees. Similar observations were made in studies of the PBET tests where examinees scored zero, indicating that they did not answer any item correctly.

Many Education graduates in the provinces are also not passing the LET. Compared to the national passing average, 2001 and 2002 results of the (LET) show that Mindanao's average passing for both years were at least 8 percentage points lower than the national passing average.

Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao's (ARMM) passing percentage stood at only 6.97 percent in 2002 and it consistently had the lowest passing percentage in the previous years.

Palatino opined that the LET examinees' performance shows the low quality of pre-service Teacher Education in the country. “Many Teacher Education Institutions are producing half-baked graduates who add up to the bulk of LET non-passers and unemployed or underemployed teachers,” he said. “Even these schools are now being turned into mere for-profit diploma mills rather than as training ground for future mentors."

 Declining quality

Palatino fears that the problem in the shortage of teachers and poor performance in LET may lead to a further slide in educational standards.

If the government and the Education department will not do anything to arrest this alarming trend, he says, the country will be seeing more classrooms with no teachers in our schools despite an oversupply of Teacher Education graduates who end up being housemaids here or abroad.

"How can we uplift the quality of basic and secondary education in the country if more than 60 students are cramped up in a small classroom due to lack of teachers?," he said.

All these, Palatino said, send a distressing signal to the education sector. “We could only imagine what kind of students we are producing if their teachers are not adequately equipped with the skills," he said. Bulatlat

Related articles:

Maids Work to Teach, Teachers Work as Maids (First of three parts)

Future Looks Dim for Education Graduate (Second of three parts)



© 2004 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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