Science Education in the Philippines
The learner-centered science education in the Philippines has the ultimate goal to develop students’ scientific literacy, which will enable them to become participative citizens who can contribute to social, health and environmental issues. It envisions the students performing scientific processes and skills as a manifestation of their understanding of scientific knowledge. Also, the development of scientific attitudes and values is given equal importance to help students make sound decisions that can impact human lives (Department of Education, 2012).
Curriculum developers and science-education specialists collaborated for the enhancement of science education. The curriculum is organised into inter- and multi-disciplinary themes to emphasise the connections between science topics and other disciplines, for effective and efficient learning. In addition, highlighting the development of priority areas such as technology, industry and innovation can enable students to contribute to the community where they belong, and will eventually become useful to the country that they live in.
From Scientific Skills to Life Skills
Science education provides various means for students to comprehend how the world works systematically. It is the foundation upon which we can bank on our future, since it helps in the development of scientific skills such as observation, logical inquiry and rational judgment. In the long run, these skills can transform into essential life skills, which the students can use to make a living for themselves and improve the way they live.
The dynamic characteristics of science education in the Philippines proves that the Philippine government is working its way towards global competitiveness, and to enable students’ skills to be on par with the demands of the 21st century. Preparing students for 21st-century challenges is a priority, since the qualifications required for job seekers for the next 40 or 50 years are projected to undergo a paradigm shift. This means that aside from creativity and ingenuity, new skills are also required for the next generation workers to work with people from different parts of the world (Reed, 2007; Mizell, 2015).
The Guiding Principles of Science Curriculum Framework
❶ Science is for everyone.
❷ Science is both content and process.
❸ School science should emphasise depth rather than breadth, coherence rather than fragmentation, and use of evidence in constructing explanation.
❹ School science should be relevant and useful.
❺ School science should nurture interest in learning.
❻ School science should demonstrate a commitment to the development of a culture of science.
❼ School science should promote a strong link between science and technology, including indigenous technology.
❽ School science should recognise that science and technology reflect, influence and shape our future.
▲Figure 1: The Guiding Principles of Science Curriculum Framework.
Source: DOST-SEI and UP NISMED, 2011
In the enrolment data of higher education for the academic year 2017–2018, 1,120,623 students are enrolled in courses related to science and technology, which is about 37.5 percent of the total population of students in higher education (Commission on Higher Education, 2018). This percentage of the student population has the potential to be part of the future workforce and to be able to contribute to the country’s economic success.
Graduate programmes are also offered to improve the quality of the professional workforce. The Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute of the Republic of the Philippines provides programmes such as the National Consortium in Graduate Science and Mathematics Education (NCGSME) and National Science Consortium (NSC) that aim to enhance the quality of science and mathematics education, and improve the country’s global competitiveness through science, technology and innovation. The said programmes consist of 12 participating universities nationwide, which are collaborating to accelerate the production of experts and human resources needed in science and mathematics education, and in research and development.
Bridging the G.A.P
The world that we are living in is composed of a diversity of cultures, religious beliefs and ideas that each of us is trying to recognise and understand as a way of expressing high respect for one another. The academe plays an important role in building linkages between the classroom and the real world. Incorporating global issues in our lessons and breaking the abstract boundaries in our classrooms can help students develop global awareness, collaborative skills and competitiveness. Recognising the significance of collaborations will help to bridge the G.A.P: Global competitiveness, Acquisition of best practices, and Partnership.
The idea of global competitiveness includes skills that will enable an individual to be personally and professionally productive in the community where he belongs and in the world at large. Some Filipino students have shown their high level of competence through bagging awards and recognitions from prestigious science competitions around the world, such as the International Biology Olympiad, International Earth Science Olympiad, and International Chemistry Olympiad. Aside from joining various competitions, the provision for active participation and collaboration through international internships fosters experiential learning in students. Through this, students can apply their learning and share their knowledge with their campus community.
Acquisition of Best Practices
The research trend in science education is gearing towards pedagogical practices, which focus on a variety of theories of learning and understanding how students learn. International connections can help in the development of curriculum and academic programmes through adaptation of other countries’ best pedagogical practices. Since students’ minds are wired differently from one another, it is essential for educators to explore possible ways on how students can effectively learn. For example, teacher exchange programmes and attendance of international conferences can help educators develop new pedagogy ideas that can bring international perspectives to classrooms. On a personal level, working collaboratively can improve one’s self-confidence since one can compare and contrast ideas with other educators, and can easily point out room for improvement.
Working with international institutions can enhance the scientific productivity of the country, and can provide more avenues for connecting the classroom to the real world. Project collaborations involving research trends and scientific innovations can improve one’s interest by sharing thoughts and ideas. Various institutions in the Philippines have established relationships with other institutions from the neighbouring countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and this can help a number of Philippine universities to increase their chance of marketing success in the global community.
The Learners of Tomorrow
As Rabindranath Tagore said,“Do not limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.”Gone are the days that the opportunity for every student to learn is confined within the four walls of a classroom. Now that we are in the 21st century, students are expected to develop skills that can help them survive in the fast-changing world of work and in a knowledge-based society. In consonance with the goals of science education in the Philippines, the learners of tomorrow are expected to become “scientifically, technologically and environmentally literate, and productive members of society” (DOST-SEI and UP NISMED, 2011) through provisions of limitless ways of learning. Connecting local and global communities through collaborative efforts of educators and experts can help students attain boundary-less learning, and to make students recognise the bigger world outside of their own country.
Statistical data of enrolment in higher education for the academic year 2017–2018. Source: Comission on Higher Education
- Commission on Higher Education (CHED). (2018). Higher education enrollment by discipline group. Retrieved from: https://ched.gov.ph/statistics/ Department of Education. (2012). K to 12 science curriculum guide. Retrieved from: https:// www.gov.ph/documents/20147/233614/SCIENCE-K-12-Curriculum-Guides-Grade7. pdf/02c5020b-a9df-cc74-598b-e6f979d5bb32?version=1.0
- Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute and University of the Philippines – National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development. (2011). Science Framework for Philippine Basic Education. Retrieved from: http://www.sei.dost.gov.ph/images/downloads/publ/ sei_scibasic.pdf
- Mizell, A. (2015). Paradigm shift: The need to prepare students with skills for the 21st century. Retrieved from: http://mindanaotimes.net/paradigm-shift-the-need-to-prepare-students- with-skills-for-the-21st-cent
- Reed, J. (2007). Global collaboration and learning. EdTech: Focus on K-12. Retrieved from: https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2007/09/global-c
Carmina S. Dalida is a graduate of Ateneo de Manila University, with specialisation in Biology and Science Education. She is currently a science teacher in the secondary-education level.
Gladys Ann O. Malto is an integrated science teacher in the Philippine Science High School Main Campus. She is also a graduate of Ateneo de Manila University from the Science Education Program.