A Question of Curios: What Happens if the Philippines Changes Its Primary and Secondary Educational System


A research project by Vergielyn Cubol

For Arizona State University’s ENG102 – Spring B 2017 Term

Image Source: AZ Quotes

Seriously, who really cares how long the Nile river is, or who was the first to discover cheese? How is memorizing that ever going to help anyone? Instead, we need to give kids projects that allow them to exercise their minds and discover things for themselves

— Aaron Swartz

Inspired by the words of the late computer genius Aaron Swartz, the invention of this research aims to answer the author’s Central Research Question which is what if the Philippines changes it primary and secondary education system frameworks. Specifically, the broader angle of this paper is to conclude possible benefits of intensive grade school and high school education that focus on intelligence and real-world skills developments instead of just memorizing textbooks.

The author wants to untangle the possibilities of building better education framework in the hopes of providing insights and improving the ways of teaching in grade school and secondary education. The author of this paper believes that changing certain frameworks in the educational system of the Philippines could benefit the country in terms of economic and social development.

The processes involved in this research are cited here: 


The Philippine’s primary and secondary education are made up of very basic frameworks more specifically, the teaching structures are mainly composed of memorizing information. What if the country’s educational system is re-structured with intensive, real-world based survival intelligent and skills to set children ready to take the world as soon as they graduate high school? What if crucial skills sets essential to landing a better job after graduating secondary school are taught to kids as early as their late years in grade school?

For a third-world country like the Philippines, a college degree is required to land a decent job as more advanced training are only taught in college. In years in grade school and high school, a child’s learning is more focus on memorizing data from textbooks. For example, extensive computer literacy, which is commonly required to the most common jobs, can only be learned on a college program if you are studying courses specific on IT, computer or software engineering.

In a fast-evolving world where computer literacy is a crucial skills for a lot of things, children should be acquainted to computer in as early as their grade school. While Philippine millennials are fast-adopting the ways of the Internet of Things, and social media is a trend (Camus 2017) , there is a sure lack of using technology for creating opportunities to themselves as individuals. If the grade school and high school education in the Philippines could make use of computer literacy as a part of their major subjects on grade and high school, then opportunities may present.

Public schools which are specifically where the major number of children are studying do not have dedicated computer laboratories. Yet it is only until recently that public elementary and high school have their own computer laboratories (Alcober 2016).

Aside from the fact that the country has to face the “norm” problems (Barlongo, 2015) like lack of classrooms, dilapidated school buildings and shortage of teachers, the author of this research paper wants to point out  frameworks use for teaching, most to which where students are taught to MEMORIZE textbook by textbook, sometimes, phrase by phrase.

It is also a problem that children drop out of poor quality schools without even learning basic literacy and numeric skills (Save the Children) . To paraphrase Swartz’s proposition, what if we teach kids of something that they can use and exercise their skills to. How far can teaching take a child when it comes to surviving in real-world scenarios.


Individuals, students, parents and various people from myriad of demographics were personally interviewed by the author in order to present this work. There were face-to-face interviews, phone interviews, surveys, and discussion among peers through instant messaging. Primary and secondary sources are cited in the author’s annotated bibliography.

In a poll (PollDaddy), participants were asked the following question, “would you agree to this statement: The Philippines education system doesn’t test intelligence but only the memory?”

Results have shown that majority of those surveyed agreed to the statement which was relevant to the Central Research Question. It was explained to the participants that the broader angle of the research is to conclude possible benefits of intensive grade school and high school education that focus on intelligence and real-world skills developments instead of just memorizing textbooks.  An author’s colleague suggested that there should have been an “in between” choice as some areas of studies like arts or mathematics may need memorizing.

The author of this research paper also interviewed teachers and teachers-to-be on their point-of-views about the author’s proposition.

Arjie Sedillo is a fresh graduate of BS-education from one of the universities in the Philippines. He cited both the pros and cons of the possible alteration, if it happens.

Arjie said that although an individual may become more skilled if the changes of education framework is pursued, there is also the problem of lack of job opportunities if more children were to obtain real-world skill sets as soon as after high school as even today’s fresh college graduates find it hard to land a job. Arjie also said that the government has to take actions into a greater length as their will be needs of funding for infrastructure.

Arjie Sedillo, a fresh graduate of BS-Ed from Negros Oriental

Teachers and future teachers like Arjie himself, may also find these changes challenging as they too, have to adapt. According to Arjie, the changes on framework may also bring culture shock to children and the Filipino people as there will be a 360 degree flip on the ways children are taught.

Mercedes Mendoza is currently studying BS-Education Major in Music. She thinks the concept puts valuable changes to the educational framework but she thinks it would be harder for children to adapt the proposed intensified learning. She also points that this proposed change will require new kinds of teaching tools and technology, which as the moment, the government cannot afford to invest in, given the current status of the economy.

Interviewee Mercedes Mendoza, 21, BS-Ed Major in Music

On K-12 and what not

K-12 covers the kindergarten to grade 12 education framework in the Philippines. Years ago, kindergarten wasn’t a pre-requisite and students can directly enroll to grade one. The high school framework was only made-up of 4 years education while a 6-year time frame in K12. The K-12 program was implemented last 2013 and since then, what used to be a 10-year basic education (kindergarten not included) has become 14 years of schooling since the K-12 was implemented.

I have interviewed individuals from varieties of communities and ages on their opinions about the K-12 program. Honey Bhabe Ruiz, 21, working as a contact center agent said the K12 program is but a burden to children. She said that everything in the extra two years implemented could have been thought in high school and there is no need to add extra two years. Noel Gillamac, a father of 2, said that government isn’t ready for such framework. He cited that K-12 is only good if the government have all geared up for this shift. AljonMark, 21, another contact center agent says K12 hone children for better training.

Aljon Mark was asked for his opinion on the current K-12 program in the Philippines

An interview with a few K-12 ICT student was conducted. An ICT course on the K12 program is supposed to teach computer literacy such as writing a computer program. Turned out that these students were unsatisfied as after a year in the program, they barely even know how to create a simple line of code except of “Hello World” and a few executions using compilers. Nine of ten students surveyed said they were unsatisfied with the level of learning they obtained from the program.

Again, as per proposition on this project, what if we dense down the education to just a 4-year of intensive training instead of the extra two years in high school as added on the K-12 program?

On Alternative Learning System (ALS)

The lack of intensive persuasion in the Philippine teaching system are portrayed on how children are taught. For example, in 2015,  a children’s quarterly exam (Galvez, 2015) was base on a noontime show.

The same simplistic basic scheme applies in the Alternative Learning System (ALS). The Philippine’s Department of Education’s website defines the Alternative Learning System as a parallel learning system in the Philippines that provides a practical option to the existing formal instruction. When one does not have or cannot access formal education in schools, ALS is an alternate or substitute. ALS includes both the non-formal and informal sources of knowledge and skills. 

ALS is supposed to be a program for people who were unable to finish their primary and secondary education. The goal is to accumulate literacy and skills. But how far does this alternative education goes.

On an interview with ALS student Alma Macay, it appears that the program has no impact whatsoever on her life.

Alma was a student of a school’s Alternative Learning System (ALS), which is a dedicated program to people who haven’t had the chance to had formal studies

Alma Macay on her graduation for the Alternative Learning System (ALS) program

on grade school or high school. An opportunity as it may sound, but ALS, just like any of the basic and secondary education in the Philippines, is about “memorizing”.

Alma’s classes at the school are consist of once a week class (sums up 4 days a month studies) which are about basics such as structures of languages, basic mathematics and all that are taught in gradeschool. For a woman like Alma, at 47 and have 10 children to feed,  ALS is not really worth it as the learning processes aren’t applicable to finding job opportunities and haven’t really created impact on her life.

The following image contains an exam materials from Alma’s school paper.  This paper has asked them to write about their “ideal friend” and what they’re looking for in friendship. As far as literacy and skills standpoints — how far can this type of teaching go when it comes to applying the knowledge accumulated into real-world scenario such as developing useful skill sets or landing a job?

One of Alma’s school papers during her days at the ALS program


The author conducted thorough researches, face-to-face interviews, online surveys to audiences and statistic research to dig in-deep facts and find answer to the Central Research Question. Primary and secondary sources biases are analyzed base on a few factors such as credibility of the source, content currency, location of the content and the source itself.


Given the current situation of the country and its shaky economic status, the proposition presented in this research is almost impossible to be implemented. Some problems surfaces as important factors were analyzed in this research.

First, the proposed (re)format of the educational system will require massive funds, but given the government’s reputation and the unsolved cases of corruption (Rappler), budget will hinder the success of this framework change (if even implemented).  Teachers and students have to adopt to these changes of framework which is going to take enormous effort both of the government and the people. The increased number of skilled individuals mean higher demands of job opportunities but unemployment rate in the country continues to soar higher (Morallo, 2017).

A strong argument also comes into conclusion among peers after discussion: what if the child is not intellectual enough to keep up?


Although the country sees the quality of education as a pillar for it’s success, there are some huge works to be done.

There sure are perks for changing the frameworks of the Philippines educational system but it will also present a few challenges. So instead, what if the government erase this long, agonizing processes and put children to real training from grade school to secondary. It all begins with the government and not the people. The proposed reform of the education system needs enormous budget allocation for resources and funding new ways to revolutionize the structures. Until then, everything in the country which the education framework has impact will remain as is. Learning will be at the same status quo and if children will want to pursue to hone intensive skills and intelligence, they have to go beyond what schools teach them and learn to train and study on their own ways.

Should the Philippines reform its educational system?

Ultimately, YES although the country is not prepared for the proposed changes.

Image Source: Quote Addicts


  • Camus, M. PH world’s No. 1 in terms of  time spent on social media. Inquirer. 24 Jan 2017.  Web. Accessed April 12 2017
  • Alcober. N. Schools to have computer  laboratories. The Manila Times. 14 Oct 2016. Web.  Accessed April 20 2017
  • Barlongo, C. Reforms in the Philippine education system: The K to 12 Program. BusinessMirror Philippines. 26 May 2015. Web. Accessed  April 1 2017
  • Helping children access education. Save the Children. Web. Accessed May 25 2017
  • Online Research Poll. 5 May 2016
  • Arjie Sedillo. Tanjay Negros Oriental, Interviewee. 9  April 2017. 6pm PHT
  • Mercedes Mendoza. Cebu Philippines. Interviewee. 12 April 2017. 3pm PHT
  • Mass interview. On K-12 program. 7 of April 2017
  • Galvez, M. Only in the PH: Quarterly  Exam in School about KalyeSerye?. When in Manila. 19  Oct 2015. Web. Accessed April 3 2017
  • Department of Education PH
  • Alma Macay. 47. Tanjay Negros Oriental. Interviewee. 9  April 2017. 3pm PHT
  • Rappler. PH ranking in global corruption index worsens. Rappler.Com. 25 Jan 2017. Web. Accessed March 20 2017
  • Morallo, A. Unemployment rate increases in January 2017. PhilStar. 14 Mar 2017. Web. Accessed April 10 2017

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