A Comparison on Philippine and Indonesian Educational Systems

8 August 2016

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ” – John Dewey Education is a self-enlightening process that is crucial to the overall development of an individual and the society at large. However, in two ASEAN nations, there still seems to be some shortcomings in the education sector. There are three issues in the education system of both Indonesia and Philippines that will be discussed and compared: quality, affordability of education, and budget. Philippines has revised its educational system only recently, making the compulsory years of education twelve instead of ten.

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With this change is the adjustment of the curriculum. All subjects under all the general topics of education, language and literature, natural sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities will be taught from first grade to twelfth grade with the exception of chemistry for first grade to ninth grade. However, even with this curriculum, there is still a decline in the quality of education. The results of standard tests among the students, as well as in the National College Entrance Examination for college students, were below the target mean score.

This decline can be partly attributed to the shortage of teachers with the 2013 public schools teacher-student ratio of 1:36. Another problem in the Philippine educational system is the affordability of education. There is a big disparity in educational achievements across social groups. For example, the socioeconomically disadvantaged students have higher dropout rates, especially in the elementary level. And most of the freshmen students at the tertiary level come from relatively well-off families. Another problem is the insufficient budget allotted for education by the government.

The Philippine Constitution has mandated the government to allocate the highest proportion of its budget to education. However, the Philippines still has one of the lowest budget allocations to education among the ASEAN countries. With this root problem, public schools face the difficulty brought by poor facilities, underpaid teachers, insufficient reading materials and others. Finally, looking in the pragmatic level, there is an educational and employment mismatch. There is a large proportion of “mismatch” between training and actual jobs.

This is the major problem at the tertiary level and it is also the cause of the existence of a large group of educated unemployed or underemployed. According to McKinsey’s Education to Employment study, only 42 percent of worldwide employers believe new graduates are adequately prepared for work. As for Indonesia, it has the fourth largest education system in the world. An assessment of the quality of education in Indonesia, a landmark education report of 50 nations was conducted and Indonesia ranked last.

It is unfortunate how the education system does not benefit the youth in a middle income country, as assessed by the World Bank. Another major problem of the Indonesian education system is its low completion rate. Only a third of Indonesian students – in a country where 57 million attend school – complete basic schooling. This is an evidence of the low affordability of education in Indonesia. A lot of problems in the education sector in Indonesia arise from its inadequacy of budget.

Because of this, education experts say less than half of the country’s teachers possess even the minimum qualifications to teach properly ad teacher absenteeism hovers at around 20 percent. Many teachers in the public school system work outside of the classroom to improve their incomes. A possible agent in this budget shortage is corruption. Indonesian Corruption Watch claims there are very few schools in the country that are clean of graft, bribery or embezzlement – with 40 percent of their budget siphoned off before it reaches the classroom. This problem is also not unknown in the Philippines.

Finally, looking in the pragmatic level, there is an educational and employment mismatch. There is a large proportion of “mismatch” between training and actual jobs. This is the major problem at the tertiary level and it is also the cause of the existence of a large group of educated unemployed or underemployed. According to McKinsey’s Education to Employment study, only 42 percent of worldwide employers believe new graduates are adequately prepared for work. With this, we see the threatening consequences of a poor education system to the society, a common plight in Indonesia and the Philippines.

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