In almost all nations, whether it’s society be highly industrialized or primarily agrarian, the standard childhood experience includes a basic kindergarten thru 12th grade education. However, the Philippines is one of the few countries on Earth that still only supports a system that reaches only to the 10th grade. Although this allows 16 year-old graduates to enter the full-time work force or pursue higher education at a much younger age than their foreign counterparts, it has created barriers to the rising generations both at home and abroad. To counter this, current Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III has championed landmark legislation that passed in 2012 that will eventually bring the education system up to the international standard of 12 full years of schooling before sending out the new generation.
Despite his well-meaning intentions, Pres. Aquino has received sharp criticism from the public about the new system. But it’s not because people are against giving more education to the youth; rather, it is because most believe the government is incapable of supporting the transition in the long run. As the Philippines is still a developing nation burdened with over a quarter of it’s 98 million people living in poverty, coupled with rapid population growth, it is understandable that many people are not confident in their government’s ability to do so. Many see the addition of the 11th and 12th grades as only keeping the students in school longer, which means parents who are already struggling to support them have to wait two more years until they can help with the family finances. Other critics of the system, especially students, are fearing the overcrowding of the public schools, claiming that the educational instruction would be substandard as potential class sizes will top 50 students per teacher. With these views in mind, protests across the countries have been increasingly more common as the implementation year draws near.
Despite the push back coming from the public, Pres. Aquino has continually defended his position, stating that the change will be enormously beneficial to the rising generations as it will not only grant the Filipino education system accredited status abroad, but it will also prepare them to enter high-paying fields such as business and technology. Elvin Uy, a Philippine education official, stated the government’s desire: “We want to give our young citizens a better chance at a decent life,” he said. But it is hard for the public to see the future benefits when they are confronted with the daily challenges of life. But whether beneficial or destructive, the answer will come in the next few years as students graduate and move into the wide world as adults.