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abel d soto
abel soto EDUCATION IN the Philippines has undergone several stages of development from the pre-Spanish times to the present. In meeting the needs of society, education serves as focus of emphases/priorities of the leadership at certain periods/epochs in our national struggle as a race.

As early as in pre-Magellanic times, education was informal, unstructured, and devoid of methods. Children were provided more vocational training and less academics (the 3 Rs) by their parents and in the houses of tribal tutors. (The question is: Why?)

The pre-Spanish system of education underwent major changes during the Spanish colonization. The tribal tutors were replaced by the Spanish missionaries. Education was religion-oriented. (Why was education during this era religion-oriented?, and—following next— Why was it greatly reserved for the elite only?) It was for the elite, especially in the early years of Spanish colonization. Access to education by the Filipinos was later liberalized through the enactment of the Educational Decree of 1863, which provided for the establishment of at least one primary school for boys and girls in each town under the responsibility of the municipal government; and the establishment of a normal school for male teachers (Why only male teachers?) under the supervision of the Jesuits. Primary instruction was free, and the teaching of Spanish was compulsory. (What were the effects of teaching Spanish on Filipino culture?) Education during that period was inadequate, suppressed, and controlled. (Again, the perennial question: Why?)

The defeat of Spain by American forces paved the way for Aguinaldo's Republic under a Revolutionary Government. The schools maintained by Spain for more than three centuries were closed for the time being, but were reopened on August 29, 1898 by the Secretary of Interior. The Burgos Institute in Malolos, the Military Academy of Malolos, and the Literary University of the Philippines were established. A system of free and compulsory elementary education was established by the Malolos Constitution. An adequate, secularized, and free public school system during the first decade of American rule was established upon the recommendation of the Schurman Commission. (What beginning can we trace here at a tangent with the Philippine Educational System?) Free primary instruction that trained the people for the duties of citizenship and avocation was enforced by the Taft Commission, per instructions of President McKinley. Chaplains and non-commissioned officers were assigned to teach using English as the medium of instruction.

A highly centralized public school system was installed in 1901 by the Philippine Commission, by virtue of Act No. 74. The implementation of this Act created a heavy shortage of teachers, so the Philippine Commission authorized the Secretary of Public Instruction to bring to the Philippines 600 teachers from the U.S.A. They were the Thomasites. (It is noticeable that the first established educational institutions in our country were public schools run by the government. And the quality of education during that time was not that bad, considering the absence of technological advancements and advantages. While today, in an era when everything is almost provided and aided by technological advancements, how is the quality of education in our country? And why is it that private schools are more favored and considered more advantageous in terms of educational quality and advancement? What happened where?)

(We can see in the above text that the problem on the shortage of teachers began way back 1901, and that we had to import teachers from the U.S.A. Now, ironically, ridiculously, and unfortunately, teachers are now forced to export themselves abroad for economic reasons.)



The high school system supported by provincial governments, special educational institutions, school of arts and trades, an agricultural school, and commerce and marine institutes were established in 1902 by the Philippine Commission. In 1908, the Philippine Legislature approved Act No. 1870 which created the University of the Philippines.

The Reorganization Act of 1916 provided the Filipinization of all department secretaries except the Secretary of Public Instruction.

Japanese educational policies were embodied in Military Order No. 2 in 1942. The Philippine Executive Commission established the Commission of Education, Health and Public Welfare, and schools were reopened in June 1942. On October 14, 1943, the Japanese-sponsored Republic created the Ministry of Education. Under the Japanese regime, the teaching of Tagalog, Philippine History, and Character Education was reserved for Filipinos. Love for work and dignity of labor was emphasized. On February 27, 1945, the Department of Instruction was made part of the Department of Public Instruction.

In 1947, by virtue of Executive Order No. 94, the Department of Instruction was changed to Department of Education. During this period, the regulation and supervision of public and private schools belonged to the Bureau of Public and Private Schools.

In 1972, it became the Department of Education and Culture by virtue of Proclamation 1081, and the Ministry of Education and Culture in 1978 by virtue of P.D. No. 1397. Thirteen regional offices were created and major organizational changes were implemented in the educational system.

The Education Act of 1982 created the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports that later became the Department of Education, Culture and Sports in 1987, by virtue of Executive Order No. 117. The structure of DECS, as embodied in EO No. 117, has practically remained unchanged until 1994, when the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and 1995, when the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), were established to supervise tertiary degree programs and non-degree technical-vocational programs, respectively.

(What can we notice in the Educational System of our country from 1972 until 1994?)

The Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM) report provided the impetus for Congress to pass RA 7722 and RA 7796 in 1994, creating the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), respectively.

The trifocal educational system refocused DECS's mandate to basic education, which covers elementary, secondary, and non-formal education, including culture and sports. TESDA now administers the post-secondary, middle-level manpower training and development, while CHED is responsible for higher education.

In August 2001, Republic Act 9155, otherwise called the Governance of Basic Education Act, was passed, transforming the name of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) to the Department of Education (DepEd) and redefining the role of field offices (regional offices, division offices, district offices and schools). RA 9155 provides the overall framework for (i) school head empowerment by strengthening their leadership roles and (ii) school-based management within the context of transparency and local accountability. The goal of basic education is to provide the school age population and young adults with skills, knowledge, and values to become caring, self-reliant, productive, and patriotic citizens.

(Sa palagay ninyo, malaki na ba and ipinagbago ng sistema sa edukasyon ng Pilipinas, o naiwan lang sa pangalan ang mga naging pababago sa ating edukasyon?)


[About the author. Abel D. Soto took up his certificatory double major course in Creative Writing and Performing Arts at Centre for Arts Foundation, Inc. in Quezon City. He also finished the Managing the Arts Program at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati City. He is a resident of Bacolor, Pampanga.]

-Posted: 3:46 PM 6/17/09 | More of this author on eK!
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