EDUCATION BLUES: A bULATLAT Special Report
Two-shift Classroom Scheme Does Not Solve Education Crisis
Recently, Department of Education Officer-in-Charge Fe Hidalgo was
publicly scolded by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for reporting that
there is a shortage of classrooms. The President claimed that there is no
shortage if the two-shift classroom scheme is used. If we go by the
President’s formula, there is no classroom shortage. However, this does
not mean that the problem is already gone.
BY TRINA FEDERIS
A two-shift system
involves one class taking the morning session, with the next class
occupying the afternoon one. This maximizes the use of a classroom since
more students can use it in one day.
According to Antonio
Tinio, chairperson of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), to
accommodate the students, most public schools schedule two, three, and
sometimes even four shifts within the entire day, with 70 to 80 students
packed in a room. Usually, the first class starts as early as 6 am to
accommodate the other sessions.
This would mean less
time for the students’ lessons, says Tinio. And if the results of
achievement tests were an indication, this system cannot improve the
quality of education in the public school system.
Below 75% passing rate
According to Tinio,
public school students do poorly in diagnostic and achievement tests. Last
June 2002, the overall performance score of Grade Four students who took
the national diagnostic test (NDT) was 39.99%, while the first year high
school students had a lower 28.04 percent.
achievement test (NAT) the following March delivered slightly better
results, with the fourth graders garnering a 43.55%, while the first year
high school students earned a 36.13%.
Despite the slight
improvement, the scores are still way below the 75% passing rate, Tinio
The Philippines in
bottom five of poor achievers
Philippines belongs to the bottom five of poor achievers in Math and
According to a study
by the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in
2003, out of the 45 participants in the Science Achievement test at the 8th
grade level (second year high school in the Philippines), the Philippines
ranked 42, beating only Botswana (43), Ghana (44) and Africa (45). The top
five performing countries were
Singapore, Chinese Taipei, South
Korea, Hong Kong and Estonia.
In the Math
Achievement test, the Philippines ranked 41, besting Botswana (42), Saudi
Arabia (43), Ghana (44) and South Africa (45). The top five were
Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei and Japan.
“These students were
prepared by their teachers months before the actual tests, and their
teachers had to go to a seminar in PNU (Philippine University of the
Philippines) in preparation for the review, but still their performance is
poor,” Tinio said. “Though it is possible that the other countries did
some tweaking of their own, the fact is, our scores are still very, very
According to the
Department of Education, 75% of those who graduate from public elementary
schools cannot read on their own. Independent reading, Tinio said, is one
of the basic skills one would expect an elementary school graduate to have
Teacher shortage also a problem
In order for the
two-shift system to work, Tinio said that there has to be two sets of
teachers. The first set will teach the first session, and the next set
will teach the next one. Tinio said that this is meant to avoid
overworking the teachers, which will greatly help in their efficiency.
At present, the
Philippines has the worst pupil-teacher ratio in Asia at 45:1, Tinio said,
as the universal standard is pegged at 25:1. According to an assessment
report by Education for All in 2000, at the elementary level, Japan has
the lowest pupil-teacher ratio at less than 20:1, followed by Malaysia and
Thailand, at 21:1 and 21.5:1, respectively. The closest to the Philippines
is Laos (31:1) and Vietnam (30:1).
At the lower
secondary level, the Philippines still has the highest student-teacher
ratio at 45:1, while Laos is the closest at 31 is to 1. Japan and
Indonesia have the lowest ratio (17:1), followed by China (17.6:1).
Since there is a
shortage of 49,699 public school teachers in the Philippines, Tinio said
that the government must also solve this shortage if it insists on a
two-shift classroom scheme.
Simplistic and crude formula
have different needs. This is why the President’s formula is crude and
simplistic, according to Tinio. “It doesn’t take into account the uneven
distribution of shortages.”
According to him, the
reports made by the Department of Education are based on the principals’
own assessment of their schools. The shifting that the President is
talking about has already been accounted for, he said, so the shortage of
classrooms is a very real problem which costs P20 billion (P378.43
million, based on an exchange rate of P52.85 per US dollar).
Tinio said that this
is the amount needed to construct the much-needed 55,145 classrooms for
public elementary and high schools for this academic year.
According to Raymond
Palatino, president of Kabataan Sectoral Party, “The
DepEd pupil-classroom ratio currently pegged at 45:1 is already worrisome.
What Arroyo wants is an educational tragedy.”
Data from a 2003 study of the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Institute for Statistics show that the Philippines has a public elementary
school average class size of 43.9 students in a classroom, as compared to
Malaysia’s 31.7, Thailand’s 22.9, Japan’s 28.6, and India’s 40.
In high school, the
Philippines has an even higher average with 56.1, while Malaysia’s is 34,
Thailand’s is 41.5, Japan’s is 33.9, and India’s is 39.
This is a far cry
from the 15 students-in-a-room goal of the National Education Association
in the United States.
formula will only institutionalize overcrowding in public school
classrooms and increasing the maximum capacity of the classrooms will not
resolve the shortage of classrooms, he said.
The two-shift scheme
as a solution to classroom shortage is nothing but a pipe dream. If the
real solution is to be found, the problem must first be faced and not made
to disappear by changing the basis of computation.
Indeed, it is
necessary for the Macapagal-Arroyo administration to acknowledge that such
a problem exists. Bulatlat
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© 2006 Bulatlat
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