Over the last decade, the Government of the Philippines has embarked on an ambitious education reform program to ensure that all Filipinos have the opportunity to obtain the skills that they need to play a full and productive role in society. The government has backed up these reforms, particularly over the last five years, with substantial increases in investment in the sector.
While there have been improvements in education sector outcomes, significant challenges remain if the government’s goals for the education sector are to be realized. Addressing these challenges will not only require further increases in education spending but also improvements in the systems that manage and govern these resources.
A World Bank study assesses the quality of basic education services and the strength of existing systems used to allocate and manage public education resources. It tracked public education resources from national and local governments to a nationally representative sample of elementary schools and high schools in the Philippines and assessed the availability and quality of key education inputs.
The key findings of the report are as follows:
· The availability of teachers in schools has improved as a result of recent teacher hiring efforts. However, there are signs of growing inefficiency in teacher deployment because of weaknesses in teacher allocation systems.
· Teacher absenteeism rates in elementary and high schools are generally low compared to other countries. However, they tend to be high in highly urbanized cities.
· There have been big improvements in the hiring process but significant delays still exist.
· Teacher performance on content knowledge assessments is poor and professional development systems are inadequate.
· The availability of key facilities has improved but classroom deficits still remain.
· Public infrastructure improvement systems suffer from many problems which result in poor quality and incomplete classrooms and water and sanitation facilities.
School funding and management
· Schools have only limited discretionary funding to implement their own school improvement plans.
· While most discretionary funding is provided by the national government, a significant portion fails to reach schools.
· Schools face difficulties in using public funds because of burdensome management and reporting requirements.
· Transparency and accountability for fund use is relatively weak at the school level.
· School level accountability through School Governing Councils is generally weak.
· Parental awareness of the existence of School Governing Councils is limited. However, parents are more aware and participate more actively in Parent Teacher Associations.
Local government funding
· Local government funding to basic education is relatively low, declining and unequal.
· Poor record-keeping and reporting makes it difficult to assess the distribution and effectiveness of local government funding for education.
· Significant differences in levels of education spending and the quality of the learning environment exist across regions and provinces.
· Even though urban schools tend to serve wealthier populations, they tend to perform poorly compared to rural schools.
· Schools serving poorer communities tend to be more resource-constrained than wealthier schools.
Detailed policy suggestions are provided in the main report for each of the topics covered. Common policy suggestions include:
· Increase public spending on education.
· Improve allocation of education inputs through better planning.
· Give schools greater authority in planning and resource management decisions and simplify reporting requirements.
· Improve transparency of fund allocation and resource use across the system.
· Strengthen the role of School Governing Councils and Parent Teacher Associations.
· Address funding and quality inequalities through improved financing mechanisms and focused interventions for schools serving disadvantaged groups.
The main findings and policy suggestions of the study are presented as a series of policy notes on specific issues as well as a combined report. In addition to the policy notes, the report provides an overview and a detailed description of the study and its approach.