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Science Education in the Philippines:
An Overview (Page 1 of 18)

By Milagros D. Ibe
Professor Emeritus, University of the Philippines
and Ester B. Ogena
Director, DOST Science Education Institute 
Presented at the Science Education Congress, ISMED, November 27-28, 1998. As Convenors of the UP-CIDS and National Academy of Science and Technology's joint program on Mega Issues: Science and Education, the authors convened the organizing committee of the conference. LOOKING BACK

Countries wanting to improve their people's quality of life cannot escape the need to harness their science and technology capability as a way of developing competitiveness.  It is, therefore, important to be guided by past and present experiences in science education to be able to recognize the turning points for the country's future which we need to decide now. Science education from the pre-Spanish period to the post-World War II period has focused on science with a health orientation.  The launching of the Russian Sputnik in 1957 made nations examine their development programs and decide to put emphasis on science and technology (S&T).  In the Philippines, formal recognition of the importance of S&T was implicit in the establishment of the National Science Development Board in 1958.  In 1963, the Philippine Science High School was created with the view of developing a critical mass of feeders for S&T professions.  During the 1960s also, New Scienceand New Mathematics emerged as concepts in the teaching of science and mathematics schools.  The development of science and mathematics curricula in the Philippines has been influenced largely by developments in foreign countries like the US, UK, Australia, and Japan.  New ways of teaching, such as discovery and inquiry approaches and the spiral approach for mathematics, came about in the late '70s. The Philippine Commission to Survey Philip-pine Education (PCSPE) recommended, among others: (1) a restructuring of the educational ladder to 6 years of elementary and 5 years of secondary school; (2) a science equipment project that includes a development design and prototype production of science equipment for instructional purposes; and (3) the use of Pilipino and English as the language of instruction at the secondary and higher education levels.  The Survey of Outcomes of Elementary Education (SOUTEL) reports, meanwhile, highlighted the poor performance of elementary school pupils and the lack of a difference in the achievement of fifth and sixth graders. Created two decades after the PCSPE, the Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM) reported these findings: inadequate S&T education, inadequate training of teachers, and the ambiguous effects of the bilingual policy on quality of training.  These essentially reiterate what were noted by the PCSPE.  The EDCOM recommended de-signing the curriculum to emphasize science and mathematics to prepare the learner for a world requiring quantitative precision and adaptation to new technologies. The development programs of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) such as the Program for Decentralized Education Development (PRODED, 1982-1988) and the Secondary Education Development Program (SEDP, 1988-1993) were directed toward implementing these recommendations. The results of the Philippine participation in the Second International Science Study (SISS, 1975) and the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS, 1995) provide lessons for assessing our manner of delivering science education in the country.  In both of these international studies, the Philippines ranked among the lowest scoring countries.  Specifically, we ranked 39th and 40th among 41 countries in mathematics and science, respectively. TAKING STOCK OF SCIENCE EDUCATION

What factors explain our students' low achievement in science and mathematics?  The absence of a science culture is often cited as a major factor.  Other factors are teacher...
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