Historico-legal and PhilosophicalBases of the Philippine Education
A PowerPoint Presentation of Mr. Kenneth June S. Potot English TeacherG. Jurado Foundation School Inc.
From a historical standpoint, the Philippineeducational system has been regarded as a hybrid, reflecting the country‟s cultural and colonial history. Education laws and policies that have been enacted and implemented throughout history are testaments to this.
Observably, Philippine culture and society valueeducation as a means to an end. This is probably the reason why the Philippines has one of the highest literacy rates in Asia and in the world.
In this chapter, the Philippine educational systemis presented within the context of history, law, and philosophy across the timeline of Philippine history.
The discovery of Laguna Copperplate Inscription dated 900AD highlighted the cultural linkspresent between the Tagalog-speaking people thistime and the various contemporary civilizations in Asia, most notably the middle kingdoms of India, and the Srivijaya empire.
For emphasis, 900AD is now the recognized date when the first surviving written record that came from the Philippines was inscribed. The plate has an inscribed date of Saka era 822, correspondingto April 21, 900 AD. Written in the Kavi script, the plate contains many words from Sanskrit, old Javanese, old Malay, and old Tagalog.
In this document, the places of Tondo, Pila andPulian in the area around Manila Bay and Medan(the Javanese Kingdom of Medang in Indonesia) were mentioned, apparently as sites of trade or business during that time.
When Spanish came in 1521, they noticed that the Filipino natives could read and write with common scripts in Baybayin, the pre-Spanish Filipino alphabet.
Colonial, revolutionary, and commonwealth periods Spanish Colonial Period
The Spanish conquest started in 1521 with the arrival of the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, and ended in 1898. Tribal tutors thistime were replaced by Christian missionaries. The education system was basically Catholic and elite based. Education was then a privilege that was never made available to the indios.
Compulsory public education was initiated and implemented through the enactment ofEducational Decree of 1863. The decree mandateda system of free, compulsory primary education. Italso initiated the establishment of primary schools for boys and girls in each town under theresponsibility of the municipal government; and a normal school for male teachers under thetutelage of the Jesuits. It included the compulsory teaching of the Spanish language.
This system benefited largely the illustrados whocould afford to send their children to the limited number of secondary and tertiary schools (colegios) open to non-Spaniards.
Citing a Joint Congressional Committee on Education Report in 1949, Elevaso & Elevaso (1995) point out the underlying philosophicalconcerns of education during the Spanish period:
• The development of knowledge of the Christian faith and ethics in preparation for the afterlife• The ability to read, write, and count, which are the fundamental tools of knowledge.• The practice of allegiance to the colonial rule of Spain• The acquisition of vocational skills in agriculture and trade• The ability to sing and read music primarily for participation in religious activities and secondarily for leisure.
Colonial, revolutionary, and commonwealth periods The First Philippine Republic
Article XXII of the provisional Constitution written in Biak-na-Bato contained a provision on education: “Religious liberty, the right of association, the freedom of education, thefreedom of the press, as well as the freedom in theexercise of professions, arts, trades, and industries are established.”
The Revolutionary Government pursuedremarkable efforts to promote the education of thepeople after its establishment on June 12, 1898. Itcreated a position of director of public instruction under the Secretario de Fomento, to handle education matters.
Spanish built institutions that were closed forthree centuries were reopened, and the medium ofinstruction focused primarily on the development of Filipino citizenship and nationalism. The philosophy of education during the revolutionary period was centered on freedom and “love of country within the context of love of God.”
Colonial, revolutionary, and commonwealth periods American Colonization Period
The Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898 which ended the Spanish-American War, marked the beginning of another colonial regime in the Philippines. The US-sponsored military government in the Philippines used the FirstPhilippine Commission as its instrumentality toimpose an American type of colonial governance in the country. It promulgated legal policies affecting all aspects of Filipino lives, including education.
With the mandate of then President William McKinley, the Commission was instructed to institute an adequate secularized and free publicschool system during the first decade of American rule “to enable the people to become a „civilized‟community”. The free primary instruction coveredprimarily the teaching of the duties of citizenship, simple livelihood, and vocation as mandated by the Taft Commission. Chaplains and non- commissioned officers were assigned to serve as teachers in the country, with English as the medium of instruction.
The American period was known for theestablishment of a highly centralized public school system by virtue of Act No. 74, enacted by the Philippine Commission in 1901. The Americans patterned the Philippine public school system after their system of education.
Philippine public schools used Americantextbooks and reading materials to teach reading,writing, arithmetic, language, gardening, domesticscience, American history, and Philippine history. Vocational education was limited to “gardening, carpentry, sewing, lace-making, and almost everything that would „civilize‟ the „uncivilized‟ Filipino.”
The implementation of Act No. 74 caused heavy shortage of teachers in the country. Because of this, between 1901 and 1902, the Philippine Commission authorized the secretary of publicinstruction to bring to the Philippines more than1,600 teachers from the US, popularly called the Thomasites.
Colonial, revolutionary, and commonwealth periods Commonwealth Period
From 1935-1946, a commonwealth system ofgovernment prevailed in the Philippines. Prior to this period, the status of the Philippines was virtually undefined as some called it an insular territory with non-commonwealth status.
The creation of the Philippine Commonwealth was envisioned under the Philippine IndependenceAct, also known as the “Tydings-McDuffie Act.” Itwas a self-governing, although foreign policies andmilitary affairs remained under the responsibilityof the US, and the passage of law by the legislature affecting immigration, foreign trade, and the currency system had to be approved by the US president.
Meanwhile, the 1935 Constitution provided theframework and philosophy for public educationsystem in the Philippines. Section 5, Article XIV thereof provides that:SEC 5. All educational institutions shall be underthe supervision of and subject to regulation of the state. All schools shall aim to develop moral character, personal discipline, civic conscience, and vocational efficiency, and to teach the duties of citizenship.
Considering the foregoing constitutional mandate, Manuel L. Quezon, the elected president of the Commonwealth, formulated a system of guidingprinciples to serve as standards of behavior for the Filipino people, especially the youth. He issued Executive Order No. 217, now known as the“Quezon Code of Citizenship and Ethics,” reciting the foundational philosophy for the emerging system of Philippine education.
It contains fundamental guidance on how todevelop moral character, personal discipline, civicconscience, and the duties of citizenship. The first two principles therein are about faith in Divine Providence and love of country. The basic legal guidelines that actually implemented the constitutional provision on education were embodied in Commonwealth Act No. 586, which was enacted to substantially reform the public school system along the following principles:
1. To simplify, shorten, and render more practical and economical both the primary and intermediate courses of instruction so as to place the same within the reach of the largest possible number of school children; 2. To afford every child of school age adequate facilities to commence and complete at least the primary course of instruction;
3. To give every child completing the primarycourse an adequate working knowledge of reading and writing, the fundamentals of arithmetic, geography, Philippine history and government, and character and civic training; and 4. To ensure that all children attending the elementary schools shall literate and become useful, upright, and patriotic citizens.
Colonial, revolutionary, and commonwealth periods Japanese Colonial Period
When the Japanese Imperial Forces invaded the Philippines in 1942, the war-time educationalobjectives and philosophies were pronounced on February 17, 1942 by its commander-in-chief, thus:
• To make people understand the position of the Philippines as a member of the East Asia Co- prosperity Sphere, the true meaning of the establishment of a New Order in the sphere and the share which the Philippines should take for the realization of the New Order, and thus to promote friendly relations between Japan and the Philippines to the furthest extent. • To eradicate the old idea of reliance upon the Western nations, especially the US and Great Britain, and to foster a new Filipino culture based on the self-consciousness of people as Orientals;
• To endeavour to elevate the morals of the people, giving up the overemphasis on materialism; • To strive for the diffusion of the Japaneselanguage in the Philippines and to terminate the use of English in due course; • To put an importance to the diffusion of elementary education and to the promotion of vocational education; and • To inspire the people with the spirit to love labor.
During this period (1942-45), the Philippine Executive Commission established the Commission of Education, Health and PublicWelfare. Schools were reopened in June 1942. The Japanese military administrationimmediately conducted re-orientation and re- training of Filipino prewar teachers for the attainment of the aforementioned objectives.
The discussion of post-liberation period covers from Japan to the pre-Martial Law period. With the termination of World War II and the restoration of the Philippine independence on July 4, 1946, the philosophy of Philippineeducation to foster faith in democracy as a way of life was reinstated.
One important piece of legislation during this period was R.A. No. 896 otherwise known as the “Elementary Education Act of 1953.” It made compulsory the enrolment of a child the next school year following his/her seventh birthday and the requirement for him/her to remain in school until he/she completed elementary education, subject to the same exceptions provided under Commonwealth Act No. 586 and the said Act. It also restored Grade VII, providedthat the pupils who were in Grade VI at the time of its implementation were no longer required to complete the seventh grade to be eligible for first year high school.
Notably, the right to education has been universally recognized since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Article 26 of the Declaration proclaims that “Everyone hasthe right education.” For instance, recognizing theright to education as a basic human right, Article 2 of the first Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights (1952) obliges all signatory parties to guarantee the right to education. The United Nations‟ International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR, 1966) guarantees this right.
After President Aquino assumed the presidency, the1987 Constitution was approved on February 2, 1987, replacing the 1973 Constitution ratified during the dictatorial government of President Marcos. Section3, Article XIV of the new Constitution contains the 10 fundamental aims of education in the Philippines. Prior thereto, President Aquino issued E. O. No. 117,reorganizing the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports; and in the process, renaming the Bureau of Sports Development as the Bureau of SportsDevelopment as the Bureau of Physical Education and School Sports, and the Bureau of Continuing Education as the Bureau of Non-formal Education. The structure of DECS as embodied in E.O. No.117 remained practically unchanged until 1994.
The duties of all educational institutions in relation to this mandate are clearly stated in Art. XIV, Sec.3 (par.2) of the 1987 Constitution, thus: “They shall inculcate patriotism and nationalism, foster love of humanity, respect of human rights, appreciation of the role of national heroes in the historical development of the country, teach therights and duties of citizenship, strengthen ethicaland spiritual values, develop moral character andpersonal discipline, encourage critical and creative thinking, broaden scientific and technological knowledge, and promote vocational efficiency.”
Art. II, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution states that: “The State shall give priority to education,science and technology, arts, culture, and sports to foster patriotism and nationalism, accelerate social progress, and promote total human liberation and development.”
The trifocal system of education in the Philippineshad its impetus on the Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM) Report dated December 28, 1991, entitled “Making Philippines Education Work: An Agenda for Reform,” specifically recommending the division of DECS into three agencies because of its findings on the declining state of the Philippine education system brought about by poor public governance, among otherreasons. It found out that the quality of Philippine education was declining continuously as evidenced by the following:
• Elementary and high schools are failing to teach the competence the average citizen needs to become responsible, productive, and self- fulfilling; • Colleges and technical/vocational schools were not producing manpower needed to develop our economy; and • Graduate education was mediocre. It was not generating the researched-based knowledge needed to create more jobs and to raise the value of production.
According to the EDCOM Report, the two mainreasons for the decline of Philippine education were: • Not enough investment in the educational system; and• Poorly managed educational establishments.
In line with this, the trifocal system of education was put in place through various legislations.
First, Congress passed on May 18, 1994 R.A. No. 7722 or the “Higher Education Act of 1994,”creating CHED, which assumed the functions of the Bureau of Higher Education and the supervision of tertiary degree programs.
Second, Congress passed on August 25, 1994 R.A.No. 7796 known as the “Technical Education and Skills Development Act of 1994,” which created the Technical Education and Skills DevelopmentAuthority (TESDA), which absorbed the Bureau ofTechnical Vocational Education plus the NationalManpower and Youth Council. While TESDA was to supervise non-degree, technical-vocational programs, DECS, on the other hand, retained responsibility for all elementary and secondary education.
Third, in August 2001, Congress passed R.A. No. 9155, otherwise called the “Governance of Basic Education Act of 2001,” which renamed DECS asthe Department of Education (DepEd) and refined the role of its field offices (regional offices, division offices, district offices, and schools).