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Education Reforms: Not to Hasten

“Education,” as Nelson Mandela said, “is the most powerful weapon which you can use to
change the world.” It is no secret that good education can transform nation and has the power to
rebuild a nation. With respect to its importance, many educational reforms was made in a country
to comply with the ever-changing demands of the society and to resolve current education
problems (Basic Knowledge 101, 2018).

Just like other countries, Philippines has done several education reforms and has instituted
several broad frameworks for the education reforms. In the last 20 years, some of those were
Education for All: The Philippine Plan of Action 1990-1999; the 1991 Congressional Commission
on Education (EDCOM); the 2000 Presidential Commission on Education Reform (PCER); the
2000 Education for All (EFA) Assessment; the ADB-WB initiated and funded Philippine
Education Sector Study (PESS); the 2006 National Action Plan for Education for All 2015 (EFA
2015); and the 2006 Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda (BESRA). (Malana, 2009)

In the provided Policy Notes article published on December 2009, reasons on why have these
frameworks and the programs did not succeed to transform the country’s education system were
presented. Among those reasons, I would like to give emphasis on the argument that the previous
education reforms did not succeed because “the actors involved in the project no longer sustain
the implementation of the reforms after the project ends”. In the first glimpse of the education
reforms and broad frameworks of the Philippines in the last 20 years, one may notice that in most
cases, the country’s education plan changed as the government leaders changed. I understand the
need for education reforms, however, I believe that it took a long time of implementation to see
the real effect of an action.

Let us take Singapore as an example. Singapore’s education system is considered to be one


of the best in the world in the present years. It actually consistently ranks in the OECD’s
Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Singapore took a long time before they
finally got their independence. It became a country just in the late 1965. Lee Kuan Yew, its first
prime minister, explained that for them to reach their present condition their stategy was “to
develop Singapore’s only available natural resource: its people” (Print edition | Leaders: What
other countries can learn from Singapore’s schools, 2018). Singapore’s education system is the
product of a distinctive, even unique, set of historical, institutional and cultural influences. It took
them until 2004 to come up with their own educational framework and that framework is still in
use as of today (Hogan, 2014).

My aim is not to degrade our country’s education system over Singapore’s education
system. My purpose is to show that we can learn from other country’s strategy. Note that Singapore
came up with a unique education system that is authentic to them and that they value the length of
the implementation necessary to see the effect of their reform. We can also do that. If the
government really believes in the education reforms they instituted, they would let the
implementation process be completed before they decide for another reform. Just like the newly
implemented K to 12 Basic Education Program, many may see a lot of flaws in the implementation
but it is inevitable because it is our first time to engaged in such system and we are still in the
process of coping with the changes.

It is sad that our education system manifested the government’s perspective and attitude
toward changes, time and power. Things like the education system do not have to change all the
time. I believe that for a reform to truly transform a nation, it would need nationwide cooperation,
unity, commitment and enough time.

References

Hogan, D. (2014, February 12). Why is Singapore’s school system so successful, and is it a model
for the West? Retrieved from The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/why-is-
singapores-school-system-so-successful-and-is-it-a-model-for-the-west-22917
Malana, C. S. (2009, December). Making reforms truly transforms: the case of Philippine basic
education. Policy Notes.
Print edition | Leaders: What other countries can learn from Singapore’s schools. (2018, August
30). Retrieved from The Economist:
https://www.economist.com/leaders/2018/08/30/what-other-countries-can-learn-from-
singapores-schools