Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Two Years Longer?

Posted by butalidnl on 30 June 2010

There is a plan by the incoming Aquino government to add two years to our basic education, in order to bring the Philippines in line with international standards.  And the proposal is to add one grade to the primary school, and one year to high school.

While I agree that the idea of adding two years is a sound one, I would suggest that those two years be added to high school.  Allow me first to digress, with a description of the way it is done here in the Netherlands. Their grade school is up to Grade 6. After which, the pupils take an aptitude exam(similar to the present NCEE); and the results will determine the kind of high school you can go to.

The highest results entitle you to go to the 6 year high school that prepares you for the university (medicine, engineering, sciences). Then, the results below this would entitle you to go to the 5 year high school that prepares you to go to “college”, i.e. not university, but courses like business, accounting, etc. Those with yet lower results get to go to the 4 year technical schools.

The advantage of this system is that the children get to go to the school which is suited to their intellectual level, and thus the danger of dropping out is much lesser than when they would be required to go through a uniform 4 year high school. At the same time, brighter students are given the chance to maximize their learning potential.

The problem with the Philippine system now is that high school is “one size fits all”, and since everyone is required to go through the same curriculum, it will tend to cater to the average student. Nevertheless, there are still a lot who will drop out.  This necessitates the giving of General Education in college, which is supposed to compensate for the mediocre high school education that most students get.

So, why not adopt the Dutch system? Let there be an aptitude exam at the end of the Elementary school, and let students be divided according to the results of the test – to the 4, 5 or 6 year high schools. The first 2 years of high school will have a uniform, “general education” curriculum; but the manner of teaching, and the overall weight of the lessons will be easier for the 4 year high school (technical).  And the 4 year high school graduate will have a trade, and can be immediately employable, or could continue for further studies.

The 5 and 6 year high schools, in effect, will be the only ones with additional years of study. But this would mean that there will no longer be “pre” courses. Thus, law will simply be a four-year college course for the graduates of the 6 year high school; similarly, medicine will also no longer require a “pre-med” course. At the same time, General Education courses in college will be transferred to the high school, so that colleges will really specialize in teaching the “major”courses themselves. And there will be more time, in effect, for these “major” courses. And this, in turn, will satisfy the requirement to conform with international standards of education.


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