National Education System

The education system of the country embraces formal and non-formal education.  Formal education is a sequential progression of academic schooling at three levels, namely, elementary, secondary and tertiary education.  The first level, elementary or primary education involves compulsory six grades in public schools and seven grades in some private schools, in addition to optional pre-school programmes (DECS, 1994).  The pre-school education usually consists of kindergarten schooling and may cover other preparatory courses.  At the age of 3 or 4, a pupil may enter nursery school until 5 and at 6 years old, proceeds to grade one.

The second level or secondary education corresponds to four years of high school, the prerequisite of which is completion of the elementary level.  A student enters the secondary level at age 12 and graduates at 15.  The third level is tertiary education or higher education where a student enters at age 16.  Higher education is divided into collegiate, master's and doctorate levels in various programmes or disciplines.  Post-secondary schooling consists of two or three-year non-degree technical or technician courses.

The Philippine education system is closely related to the American system of formal education while other Asian countries are influenced by the English, French or Dutch system.

Non-formal education, which includes the acquisition of knowledge even outside school premises is aimed at attaining specific learning objectives for a particular clientele, especially the out-of-school youth or adult illiterates who cannot avail themselves of formal education.  An example is functional literacy programmes for non-literate and semi-literate adults which integrate basic literacy with livelihood skills training.

The responsibility of administering, supervising and regulating basic education (elementary and secondary education) is vested in the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) while that of higher education is lodged in the Commission on Higher Education.  The post-secondary technical-vocational education is under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) which is also in charge of skills orientation, training and development of out-of-school youth and unemployed community adults.

As of 1996, there are 49,631 schools in all levels, of which, 84 percent are public (see Table 1). Of the 35,775 elementary schools, 94 percent are public.  In the secondary level, there are 6,309 schools, of which, 59 percent are public.  Of the 1,185 higher education institutions, 80 percent are private.  Enrollment statistics for all levels are shown in Table 2.

The Philippines is using a bilingual medium of instruction. Certain subjects are taught in English and the rest in the national language which is Filipino.