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Philippines - Educational System—an Overview
Three government organizations handle education in the Philippines. These are the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). In 1999, the Department of Education, Culture and Sports, which governs both public and private education in all levels, stated that its mission was "to provide quality basic education that is equitably accessible to all by the foundation for lifelong learning and service for the common good." The Department also stipulated its vision to "develop a highly competent, civic spirited, life-skilled, and God-loving Filipino youth who actively participate in and contribute towards the building of a humane, healthy and productive society." All these ambitions were embodied in the development strategy called "Philippines 2000."
The academic year in the Philippines is patterned after its wet/cool and dry/hot seasons. The hottest months of the year are from March to May, thus making them the "summer break." The wet season starts in June, which also marks the beginning of the academic school year. Beginning 1993, DECS increased the number of school days from 185 to 200. The school year ends during the first few weeks of March. The Philippines, a Catholic country, has a two- to three-week break during Christmas in December and a four- to five-day break at the start of November to celebrate the Day of the Saints and the Day of the Dead.
The language of instruction has been a much debated topic. For a country dispersed over 7,107 islands, with 11 languages and 87 dialects, colonized by Spain for more than 300 years, and educated by the Americans, the decision to pick a particular language of instruction has been very controversial. The languages used for instruction have switched from Spanish to Tagalog, to English to the local vernacular, including some Chinese languages, and Arabic, which is used in the southern part of the country.
According to an official publication of the U.S. Library of Congress, the Philippine census reported that during the 1990s a total of 65 percent of Filipinos understood English. During the last four decades of the twentieth century, education in all levels had vastly improved. In the compulsory elementary level, from 1965-1966, there were a total of 5.8 million students enrolled, 4.5 percent of which were in private institutions. In 1987-1988 these numbers grew to 9.6 million enrolled, 6.6 percent of which were in private schools. By school year 1999-2000, 12.6 million were enrolled with 7.1 percent in the private sector. This level is for grades 1 through 6—ages 7 to 12. The various Philippine grade levels are referred to with cardinal numbers (one, two, three) rather than ordinal numbers (first, second, third). Secondary education is taught for 4 years from ages 13 to 16.
Primary and secondary schools are taught from Monday to Friday,...
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