The Deterioration of Higher Education in the Philippines

A Paper Presented to Prof. Ariane M. Borlongan Department of English and Applied Linguistics College of Education De La Salle University

In Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Course English Research (coded as ENGLRES)

Ma. Fe del Mundo Donnabelle B. Sierra March 30, 2009 1

Thesis statement: The deterioration of higher education in the Philippines resulting to unemployment and underemployment contributed to the economic crisis such as poverty. Outline: I. II. Introduction Declining standards of higher education A. Factors i. ii. Market defects Finance in education a. Corruption in higher education iii. iv. Issues on National College Entrance Examination Lack of competitive educators

B. Indicators i. ii. III. Performance of college graduates in National Licensure Examination Employability of graduates

Unemployment and underemployment A. Statistics B. Other reasons affecting unemployment and underemployment C. Effect i. Poverty




Presently, the Philippines is one of the countries affected by the global financial crisis. The value of peso continues to decline as well as the value of dollars that shows Philippines is under recession. The current Philippine poverty rate in both rural and urban is worse than the neighboring countries. And one of the possible reasons that can be drawn is the increasing number of unskilled student that adds up to the economic problem of the country. Along with the swelling in the labor force, the rank of unemployed workers continues to increase since 1998. The failure of the education system to produce highly-skilled and productive graduates was being criticized by business administrators. Employees who were just new in the industry may have difficulties in meeting the expectations from them. Tertiary education must be the one responsible in the development and formation of the students. It constitutes an extremely significant institution in socio-economic development. However, not all necessities were given importance and proper implementation. There are eloquent proofs of the failing system, particularly in the last two decades. If the system of higher education continues to deteriorate, Philippine education would be soon providing not so well-produced students, students who lack the capability of getting employed in a good and stable company. And if that is so, only few students will have the chance to get employed for companies right now are searching for the best employees. While others who were not able to pass the exam/interview because of the low-quality of training given to them when they were in college will perhaps get unemployed. Unemployment leads to poverty; poverty which is a widespread phenomenon in the Philippines. In the country’s situation, one can see that failure of providing quality education tend to bring about poverty.


This paper aims to discuss how the deterioration of higher education in the Philippines resulting to unemployment and underemployment, that consequently affects the economy of the country. The figure below shows how poor education results to poverty and vice versa. It also includes the factor that poverty and poor education may have been brought up by having low income.

Poverty: 􀂾 􀂾 High incidence and low progress Unpropotional distribution

Low incomes:

Poor education: 􀂾
Low effect of basiceducation on wage and income 􀂾 Degredation of unskilled jobs 􀂾 Underemployment 􀂾


Inadequate access Low quality

Low job generation and high unemployment

Capital intense industries



Declining Standard of Higher Education Higher education is the main factor that shapes nation’s culture and ideology. It is committed to research and innovation, without it, no country can hope for progress and development. The effects of college education on the individual and nation seem to be doubtful in the developing countries like Philippines. There are different factors why this is so. Market Defects The Philippine Task Force on Higher Education conducted studies about the higher education system in the country. (1994 Osmena) The task force noted from their report that ineffectiveness of higher education is brought about by market defects which the government has taken for granted. Imperfect information and imperfect capital market were part of these market imperfections. The first condition was characterized by unlimited options of variety of higher education available in so many schools of which the average student and his/her family knows little about. The second is a condition wherein students and their families have limited choices because of financial resources. They cannot freely take the course they like because they should consider its affordability. These two conditions interact with each other, resulting in occurrence of low-quality cheaper higher education programs getting the most number of students. These show that education programs were chosen not by their competitiveness but simply by being affordable. Finance in Education Finance in education means peso back-up to school a student, to support a school project, to pay a teacher, principal, and their like. In the academe, finance is not appropriately used.

Administrators and educational planners would always say: “How can you run a program without a budget?” What they really mean is: How can you operationalize this program if you don’t have the money to support and finance it. And what Maquiso have in mind is that give them the money and they will give them good programs!” that’s another cliché among administrators and educational planners. What Maquiso really mean is they know how to spend their money. Just give it to them. In public schools, the money is often spent for pet projects and or toys of the administration to the sacrifice of the more basic school concerns (Maquiso, 1980). For instance, some administrators spend large amount of money in buying cars and trucks, painting the house of a selected individuals and so on; but they do not spend the money for its real purpose like maintenance of the school’s facilities and meeting the needs of the school. But where does this money really came from? Filipinos are paying for public education. It means that the public elementary schools and high schools, the state colleges and universities including the military, maritime schools and the like are financed by the people with the taxes they pay to the government. How much is each school gets every year is a problem of budgeting; the decision made as to how much each school gets depends on the powers of the Ministry of the Budget. According to Maquiso (1980), the national government has given priority to other arenas like housing projects, industrial development, social development, and projects in agricultural production may be the result of pressures and demands of modern national development. More on to that, education used to get 30% of the national budget during the 60’s, but as of 1980, education has not really come out as yet with a formulation on how to justify personal needs against student needs. Just for example, they plan to have the average ratio of 1:15 for higher

education but the conducted visitation from the group of Maquiso saw that the number of the student exceeds in the ideal ratio of a classroom-basis. On the other hand, private schools lessen their expenditures to gain more profits from the students. Just like in business, the idea is to have more consumers. Once a private school was established and gets good impression from the public, enrolment increases but the physical development of the school stops. Another serious problem in higher education was the corrupt system inside the institution. Are you aware of this? If corruption takes the form of kickback, it diminishes the total amount available for the purposes of the development of the school. The education department was charged as the most corrupt agencies together with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). During 1990’s, charges of corruption was rampant on the education department. It has consistently appeared in a former senator’s widely publicized list of flagship centers of corruption (Chua, 1999). Issues on National College Entrance Examination Before entering college, one must first pass the National College Entrance Examination. It is good to know that the Department of Education had conducted this kind of examination for it serves as the start of the learning process in tertiary education. But during 1940’s, it was abolished by the Congress and critics were raised like it was saying that it becomes discriminatory because it favored graduates from Manila and in other urban schools, and the last priority include those graduates who were in rural centers; and also, it limits one’s right to a


college education by setting its cut-off score. Before critics were raised, several advantages were appreciated by the people (Colinares 2005). The first advantage was that NCEE conserved human and economic resources by preventing thousands of unqualified students from wasting their time, money and effort in college. Secondly, NCEE served as a guide to students in selecting career areas, such as medicine, engineering, nursing, and law. And lastly, NCEE raised the standards of tertiary education by selecting students that best fit for intellectual exercise of university work (Colinares 2005). Prior to the nonexistence of NCEE, the general cut-off was 50 percentile but it was viewed as unduly limiting many high school graduates to enter college level. It means that only the top 50 percent of the total examinees each year will be allowed to enroll in college degree programs. In every two examinees, one can go to college (1:2 ratio). The NCEE critics wanted to change the cut-off to 3:4 ratio, wherein for every four examinees, three will be qualified to enter college degree programs. It was the same as having percentile 25 cut-off score which means 75 percent examinees will be allowed to enter college degree programs and only the lowest scoring 25 percent will not be allowed. The critics of NCEE and those people who were responsible to the abolishment of NCEE appeal to the principle of equity. They favored equity rather than the principle of excellence (dela Rosa 2005). Moreover, the low capability of students admitted in college results to low quality and low standards of universities. The best schools are very selective in admitting students to sustain the quality. There is really a need for national testing program. The NCEE should be the answer but it was loosely administered - the inability of NCEE Administrators to implement strict standards in the testing to avoid cheating, examination leak and coaching by proctors and

examiners during the test. The credibility of the NCEE scores were lowered because of these malpractices (Colinares 2005). Lack of Competitive Educators The teaching industry has been flooded with teacher education graduates. But looking at its standard, the poor quality of teachers already started from their trainings upon college. Unfortunately, some of the graduate education teachers end up as domestic helpers abroad because of being unable to qualify as teachers (Ibe 1994). It only shows that they lack the trainings even before they find job. Few numbers of graduate students with higher degrees continues, especially with PhD most particularly in mathematics and physical sciences (Ibe, 1994). The study made by the World Bank recently, shows that the 71% of the faculty Philippine tertiary institutions have only bachelor’s degrees; there is an increasing number of part-time faculty, 45% among propriety institutions, 41% in private non-stock institutions, and 16% in public sector; to avoid the size constraints given in government regulations, faculty were given heavy teaching loads; the expectation for research was very low and the faculty were given small time for graduate study. Indicators The quality of our college graduates is not faring well on some national examinations like the exams given by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) and the Civil Welfare Commission (CSC). (Cortes, 1994) The PRC 1992 annual report shows that in the licensure examinations given by 39 professional boards, 125,118 aspirants for licenses took the examination.

The passing rates

were ranging from 8.1% to 78.2% according to the reports released by 22 of these boards. The failure rates were high on the professions which have huge numbers of graduates as shown below: No. of Passed Accountancy Architect Chem. Engineer Dentist Electrical Engineer Elect. Comm’n Engr. Forester Geodetic Engineer Medical Technologist Midwife Nurse Nutritionist / Dietician Optometry Examinees 8971 1371 944 3953 7912 2240 359 212 3874 13679 40409 553 642 Number 1379 314 126 440 1006 181 59 31 1325 3704 18732 183 283 Percent 154 229 13.3 11.1 12.7 8.1 16.4 14.6 34.2 27.1 46.4 33.1 44.1


Pharmacist Physician Source: Higher Education Reform, 1994.

2250 3262

1543 2551

68.6 78.2

The passing score on each of these licensure test is 75%, the percent scores actually obtained are really much lower than 75%; they are transmuted scores. For if one was to insist on a true 75% score hardly anyone would pass. Unemployment and Underemployment Household Population 15 Years Old and Over by Employment Status

Labor Force Employment Unemploy- UnderemployVisible Period Participation Rate ment Rate ment Rate UnderemployRate (In %) (In %) (In %) ment Rate Jan 2009 Oct 2008 Jul 2008 Apr 2008 63.3 92.3 7.7 18.2

63.7 64.3 63.2

93.2 92.6 92.0

6.8 7.4 8.0

17.5 21.0 19.8

Jan 63.4 2008 Source:




In the table shown above, it is very clear that the unemployment rate increases from 6.8% up to 7.7% as well as with the underemployment rate that ranges from 17.5% then become 18.2%. The unemployment and underemployment rate continue to increase.

Other reasons affecting unemployment and underemployment Aside from the declining standard of education, another factor that contributes to the problem is the tendency of the employers to be very selective and careful in choosing employees which then limits the opportunity of most graduates in finding jobs that pay well. Most of the employers prefer students who graduated from well-known universities that provides high standard education like De La Salle University (DLSU), Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) and University of the Philippines (UP). They also set age requirements, usually 25 to 35 years old and at least two years job experience. Moreover, after fulfilling all the said requirements of the employers, they are still looking for prospective employees with levels of competencies and good communication skills, which they usually find absent in most of the graduates. In addition, the attitude of the future workers toward jobs also became part of the problem. Traditionally, graduates proceed to graduate school after finishing their courses and not attempting to look for work believing that there are no works available. This long waiting time also signifies longer or stronger labor force attachment of future workers- making them a clear candidate adding up to the pool of educated unemployed.

Conclusion The discussion above shows that the quality of education hinders students to have a better future. Despite of having a large pool of educated and highly trainable manpower, a number of employers still raised the issue of non-satisfaction on the abilities of graduates. Some of the factors contributing to the non-satisfaction of these employers include the proliferation substandard education, inefficient government assistance, inadequate teacher training and corrupt investment in education. When these employers find for best employees, only few were given the

chance to enter a good company. And so, others who were not chosen maybe in terms of their performance and the school they went on are being set aside. And if they don’t get employed, they become a part of the poor people who can’t access for income. With this, the authors suggest that parents and students should give attention to the problems that affects the quality of tertiary education that leads to poor living condition and should fight for their rights. Proper implementation of laws and regulations should also take place and it can only be possible if the people will be observant and mindful enough to the governing body behind it. This paper includes the most prominent factors that lead to the deterioration of quality education in the Philippines and also presents its major effects on the individual, business sector, and economy of the country as whole. However, further studies are recommended because other factors and effects were not presented and not taken for considerations.


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