Philippines: National Program Support for Basic Education

April 10, 2014

The project supports the government’s Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda (BESRA) designed to help improve the quality and equity of basic education in the Philippines. Key policy and systems reforms are showing good results: from 2005 to 2013, the elementary participation rate increased from 88.58% to 95.24% with enrollment also increasing from 13 million to 14.4 million. National Achievement Test Scores (Grade 6) also showed improvement in all subjects.


From one of the most highly-educated developing countries in the world in the1980s, the Philippines’ educational outcomes had fallen short of potential.Results of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 2003 placed the country in the lowest 10 percent of participating countries in Grades 4 and 8. Internal testing by the Department of Education or DepEd showed that only 40 percent of 4th Grade students had mastered 3rd Grade, and 30 percent of first-year high school students had mastered 6th Grade competencies in English, math and science.

Reforms failed to resolve chronic shortages in textbooks and school buildings, and a revised curriculum and new instructional policies did not produce desired outcomes as real government spending on basic education failed to catch up with population growth and inflation.  However, between 2005-2013, public education spending almost tripled which had positive effects on education outcomes. 


More than 4 million students in the poorest regions of the Philippines will soon have an opportunity to improve their basic skills in reading and mathematics through a new project.

World Bank


The National Program Support for Basic Education (NPSBE) played an important catalytic role in implementing the government’s Basic Education Reform Agenda (BESRA) over a six-year period (2006-2012). The project was the first Bank operation in the country that adopted a national program support approach which built the foundation for policy and system-wide reforms. This resulted in the more effective use of resources that focused on implementing targeted reforms. The project supported strategic elements and key reform thrusts of BESRA that included school-based management, teacher standards and quality assurance.

The project likewise facilitated reforms that promoted decentralization and rationalization of the basic education system that in turn improved equity, quality, governance and financing of services. It also helped government better coordinate donor assistance and mobilize resources from the private sector. An innovation of the project was that it was implemented by the government itself through the Department of Education’s regular staff and used the country’s procurement and financial management systems.


As of 2014, the project contributed to achieving encouraging results under BESRA: 

• Between 2005 to 2013, spending for public education almost tripled while spending per basic education student increased by around two-thirds, resulting in increased resources to improve access to basic education services especially of the poor and disadvantaged and to improve quality of learning;

• The elementary participation rate for 6-11 year olds increased from 88.58% in 2005 to 95.24% by 2013.

• The overall enrollment numbers also improved from 13 million to 14.4 million from 2005 to 2013. This is a substantial figure given that a substantial portion of the enrollment increase was largely from the poorest households.

• The Grade 6 mean percentage score in math, science, Filipino, English and social studies improved from 54.66% in 2005 to 66.9% by school year 2012-2013, based on the  National Achievement test.

• The high school participation ratefor 12-15 years improved from 61.16% from 2005 to 64.8% by 2013.

• High school enrollment numbers also showed improvement from 6.3 to 7 million from 2005 to 2013. This is also significant since there were more children attending school from poor households.

• There were improvements in math, filipino and social studies from 46.66% in 2005 to 47.93% by 2013 based on the National Achievement test scores for Year 2.

(Sources: ICR, June 26, 2013; 2010 census data; Reyes, C., Tabuga, A., Mina, C. and Asis, R (2013. Promoting Inclusive Growth Through the 4Ps. Philippines Institute of Development Studies)

" (School-based management) grants play a great role in order to improve the quality of education delivered to our learners. If all the teachers and stakeholders are fully aware of their roles and functions and have the proper direction on how to do and achieve it, quality education and high productivity can be achieved. "

Edselyn Biray

School-based management coordinator, Kalibo, Aklan

Bank Group Contribution

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development provided financing amounting to US$ 200 million in support of four components of the six-year project. Of the amount, $53 million was used to strengthen school-based management; $9 million to improve teaching effectiveness; $136 million to enhance quality assurance through standards, assessment and support; and $2 million for effective resource mobilization. The Support for Philippine Education Reforms (SPHERE)Trust Fund amounting to AUD39.5, supported by AusAID and managed by the Bank, was also mobilized to complement the NPSBE support to the Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda of the government.  


The Bank collaborated with development partners, with the government taking the lead  in pursuit of  basic education reforms. Major development partners such as the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), UNICEF, the German Society for International Cooperation (GTZ), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the League of Corporate Foundations, and the Philippine Business for Education participated in support missions to monitor the implementation of the Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda.Various civil society groups meanwhile helped promote good governance in education, monitor textbooks and school-building construction and provided knowledge support on international best practices. 

Moving Forward 

The World Bank will continue to support the BESRA upon government’s request with a new loan called the Learning, Equity and Accountability Program Support or LEAPS. The US$300 million loan, approved in March, 2014 will support the gains made under BESRA and NPSBE and aims to improve the reading and math skills of children in target regions and target schools with a special focus on disadvantaged groups. This will be achieved through: (i) improvement of teaching and learning in grades 1 to 3 for reading and math; (ii) strengthening of accountability and incentives of Department of Education employees; and (iii) improvement of program design for targeting disadvantaged groups.  

14.4 million
number of students enrolled mostly from the poorest households as of 2013
Source »