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on ICTs in Basic Education
Policy and Practice
in the Philippines
             PATRICIA B. ARINTO
                   6 September 2006
Challenges to Education
1. How to develop a globally competitive
2. How to promote among citizens the values
   of democracy, civic participation, human
   rights, gender equality, social justice and

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Two Perspectives
on the Purpose of Education
1. Education as a tool for economic
2. Education as a means for personal
   development, social inclusion and
   participation—in short, human

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Perspective #1: Education as
human capital formation
• Education as an investment towards the
  achievement of competitive advantage in
  the global economy
• Gained prominence in the 1960s and
  1970s with the work of economists who
  calculated the rates of return from

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Perspective #2: Education as
human development
• From Amartya Sen’s definition of “fundamental
  freedoms” as including not only the freedom to
  participate in trade and production (“economic
  facilities”) but also the freedom to pursue good
  health, acquire education, and participate in
  political life (“political freedoms” and “social
• Underpins the international consensus on
  Education for All and the Millennium
  Development Goals
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The Dakar Framework on
Education for All
1. Expanding and improving comprehensive early
   childhood care and education, especially for the most
   vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
2. Ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls,
   children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to
   ethnic minorities, have access to, and complete, free
   and compulsory primary education of good quality.
3. Ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and
   adults are met through equitable access to appropriate
   learning and life-skills programmes.

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The Dakar Framework on
Education for All
4. Achieving a 50% improvement in levels of adult literacy by
   2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic
   and continuing education for all adults.
5. Eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary
   education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in
   education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls’ full and
   equal access to and achievement in basic education of good
6. Improving all aspects of the quality of education and ensuring
   excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning
   outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy
   and essential life skills.

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Millennium Development Goals
By 2015:
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
2. Achieve universal primary education.
3. Promote gender equality and empower women.
4. Reduce child mortality.
5. Improve maternal health.
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
7. Ensure environmental sustainability.
8. Develop a global partnership for development.

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Two Perspectives
on ICTs in Education
1. Human capital perspective: ICTs as a
   means to develop workers with the ICT
   skills that are needed for the rapidly
   expanding ICT industries
2. Human development perspective (ICT4D):
   “harnessing ICTs in the service of
   equitable development” (UNDP, 2001, p. 2)

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Policy vs. Practice
in the Philippines
1. Policy statements on ICT integration in
   Philippine basic education seem to reflect a
   human development perspective.
2. However, key ICTs for schools programs tend to
   be informed by a human capital approach.
3. This paper discusses the limitations of these
   programs, and proposes alternative policy
   directions based on a human development
   framework for ICT integration in Philippine
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Philippine ICTs in Basic
Education Policy
MTPDP 2004-2010:
“ICT will be harnessed as a powerful enabler
of capacity development. It will therefore be
targeted directly towards specific
development goals like ensuring basic
education for all and lifelong learning, among
others.” (National Economic Development Authority,
2004a, p. 2)

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Philippine ICTs in Basic Education
BEC 2002:
“We have to educate our Filipino learners to
filter information critically, seek credible
sources of knowledge, and use data and
facts creatively so that they can survive,
overcome poverty, raise their personal and
national esteem, and realize a gracious life in
our risky new world.” (p. i)

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Philippine ICTs in Basic Education
•   BEC encourages the use of ICTs in all learning areas
    as a means of promoting greater interactivity,
    widening access to knowledge that will enrich
    learning, and developing “skills in accessing,
    processing and applying information, and…in solving
    mathematical problems and conducting
    experiments.” (p. 15)
•   BEC recognises the need to harness ICTs in “the
    acquisition of life skills, a reflective understanding
    and internalization of principles and values, and the
    development of the person’s multiple intelligences.”
    (p. 8)

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Human Capital Approach to
ICTs in Philippine Schools
1. Flagship project: school computerization and
   connectivity for all public secondary schools
   by 2010
2. Curricular emphasis on computer education
   for high school seniors
3. Administrative focus on setting ICT literacy
   standards for teachers as part of a strategy to
   develop computer literacy among public
   secondary school teachers

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A Critique of the Human Capital
Approach to ICTs in Schools
Observation #1: Billions of pesos are
being spent for computers and Internet
connectivity in public high schools while
there are persistent massive shortfalls in
classrooms, textbooks and teachers due
to under-funding of education.

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Budgetary realities

• Although education gets the lion’s share of the national
  budget (net of debt service), 89% of DepED’s budget is
  for the salaries of its more than 500,000 employees.
 (DepED, 2005)

• The Philippines spends PPP USD417 per student per
  year, compared to PPP USD995 in Thailand, PPP
  USD2,289 in Korea, PPP USD4,369 in The Netherlands,
  and PPP USD7,186 in the United States. (UNESCO, 2005)
• In 2002, there was a shortage of 51,947 classrooms, 4.56
  million desks and chairs, 34.7 million textbooks, 38,535
  teachers. This is a chronic shortage, since the number of
  public school students, about 18 million in 2005,
  increases by 2.8% annually. (Abad, 2005)
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Contrasting views on the value
of computerization
Using the Internet to fill in        Applying a high-tech solution
education gaps:                      to a low-tech problem:
“With the Internet, we have found    “A computer in every
a powerful and efficient tool to     classroom is a noble goal—
address the education gap among      provided there is a physical
the country's youth. Access to the   classroom in the first place. A
Internet democratizes information    multimedia computer with
[sic], giving students free access   internet connectivity is of little
to electronic encyclopedias that     use in a school with leaking
aid in research, math, science,      roofs—or no roof at all.” (Sir
and languages.…Computers and         Arthur Clarke, Foreword to UNDP-APDIP,
Internet access facilitate
networking among schools and
promote the sharing of teaching
modules, the standardization of
material, and teacher training…”
(GILAS, 2005)

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A Critique of the Human Capital
Approach to ICTs in Schools
Observation #2: Although BEC advocates using
ICTs as learning tools, there are still no
curricular guidelines for integrating ICTs in the
learning areas and what exists is a curriculum
for computer education classes for junior and
senior high school students. The lack of
curricular guidelines is one of the reasons why
computers in schools are underutilized. (Tinio,

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A Critique of the Human Capital
Approach to ICTs in Schools
Observation #3: While efforts are underway to
put in place ICT literacy standards for teachers,
not enough attention is being given to the
development of models, incentives and support
for teaching and learning with ICT. Without the
latter, standards are nothing more than a
managerialist tool that reduces teaching to
performance (or compliance) and curricular
reform to a technical process. (Hargreaves et al., 2001)

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Contrasting views on IT literacy as a
strategy for global competitiveness
Computer literacy for               • Technology literacy is only one of
competitiveness in the                eight types of literacy that
workplace:                            individuals need to be able to use
“For many Filipino youths, high       and produce knowledge in the 21st
school is the highest level of        century. (NCREL, 2003)
education that they will be able
to afford and attain before they    • The global knowledge-based
join the work force….[W]ork           economy requires “highly skilled
force productivity and                knowledge workers” (Olssen and Peters,
                                      2005, p. 333), and “highly trained
competitiveness depend much
on the modern worker's ability to     scientific, technological, and
harness the tools and resources       processing personnel…with
available on the Internet. It is      sophisticated research skills, who
imperative that our public high       can understand fully material,
school students gain basic            scientific, technological, managerial,
literacy in the Internet              and social developments, and who
environment as early as               can take the lead in their
possible.” (GILAS, 2005)              assessment, adaptation, and local
                                      application.” (Haddad and Draxler, 2002)
Contrasting views on IT literacy as a
strategy for global competitiveness
The government call     • Schools contract the “diploma disease”
for schools to            from trying to comply with “training and
produce graduates         allocation pressures” (Little, 1994, p. 66).
with the IT and
English language        • This bolsters the global division of labor in
skills needed to fill     which “much of the labor intensive
the 40,000 call           manufacturing [and services] is being
center jobs that          relocated to wherever in the world
become available          production costs are lowest” (Tikly, 2001, p. 159) In
each year                 this scenario, developing countries like the
                          Philippines become “globally competitive”
                          by developing low-level skills that are
                          needed for the new global production
                          processes, while neglecting to build
                          capacity in high value-added sectors.
Economic realities and tradeoffs

• ICT investments do not necessarily improve
  economic productivity in countries where the
  more urgent need is for investments in
  agriculture, health care, and universal primary
  education, for example. Instead, there may be
  “unacceptable tradeoffs” with development goals
  when ICTs are treated as a ‘techno-quick-fix’ for
  problems of development. (UNDP-APDIP, 2004, p. 18)

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Economic realities and tradeoffs

• At the level of individual schools, one of the
  tradeoffs for acquiring computers is a classroom
  (or two) that has to be retrofitted into a computer
  laboratory. Schools also have to bear the
  recurrent maintenance costs, without assurance
  of additional funds from the local school boards.

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Economic realities and tradeoffs

For the Philippine basic education system as a
whole, the opportunity cost of the multi-billion peso
school computerization and connectivity campaign
is significant funding for:
– basic infrastructure (e.g., classrooms, libraries, science
  laboratories, toilets)
– learning resources (e.g., textbooks, reference materials,
  teaching aids)
– teacher training
– programs that address major gaps in education
  provision (e.g., the multigrade program; the program to
  improve reading skills; programs to keep poor children
  in school; and basic education programs for Muslim
  Filipino and indigenous peoples)
Human Development Framework
for ICTs in Basic Education
Key point #1: From a human development
perspective, massive investments in ICTs are
acceptable only if these will result in broad-
based and equitable development. Such an
outcome is something that policy makers need
to safeguard because:
- ICT initiatives are neither neutral nor benign; and
- Simply deploying ICTs can exacerbate existing
  inequalities and create new ones. (Pradhan et al., 2005;
  UNDP-APDIP, 2004)

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Human Development Framework
for ICTs in Basic Education
Key point #2: It is important to “build adequate
capacity throughout society, including
marginalised groups…and…to address
educational imbalances in order to meet the
demands of the information society.” (Uimonen, 2004,
p. 117, my emphasis)

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 Contrasting views on ICTs and capacity
In targeting public   • High school students represent a minority
secondary schools       of the school-age population in the
as recipients,          Philippines. High school graduates in the
computerization and     Philippines constitute only a third of the
                        total number of children who enter Grade 1
connectivity            and about half of those who finish Grade 6.
advocates are           (Abad, 2005)
reaching out to
learners who are      • The above calculation uses as baseline the
disadvantaged by        total number of children who are in school
poverty and             and excludes the estimated 1.2 million 6- to
geographic distance     11-year-olds (as of 2002) who are not in
                        school, as well as the 4 million Filipinos 10
from urban centers.     years old and above who are not literate
(GILAS, 2005)
                        (about 5% of the total Filipino population)
                        and the 10 million or so functionally illiterate
                        youth and adults (about 12% of the total
Contrasting views on ICTs and capacity
             • The continued exclusion of out-of-school
               children and illiterate youth and adults from
               educational opportunities is a violation of
               the right to education, as well as a serious
               barrier to social and economic progress.
             • Policy makers must put in place programs
               that give out-of-school children and illiterate
               youth and adults real opportunities for
               learning. Radio- and television-based
               distance learning programs have been
               proven to be a highly effective but relatively
               cheap means of delivering literacy and
               primary and secondary education in
               developing countries. (cf. The World Bank, 2003; EFA
               Global Monitoring Report 2006; UNDP-APDIP, 2004)
Human Development Framework
for ICTs in Basic Education
Key point #3: ICT planners and policy makers
must get rid of their fixation with “high”
technology. They must stop treating computers
and Internet access as the “default solutions” to
lack of access to technology and information
and recognize that “[o]ften, what people really
[need] is a public telephone that works
dependably, or literate facilitators who can assist
them with bureaucratic procedures.” (Pradhan et al.,
2005, p. 11)

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Human Development Framework
for ICTs in Basic Education
Key point #4: Education authorities must have a
clear vision of the specific educational purposes
that computer technologies can best serve. And
they must pay attention to the “educational,
pedagogical, institutional and financial
sustainability dimensions” of ICT integration in
schools. (Isaacs, qtd. in Uimonen, 2004, p. 119)

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Making strategic use of computer
technologies in basic education

1. Teacher professional development: using
   ICTs to help teachers upgrade their
   knowledge and skills, to provide them with
   access to educational resources and models
   of good teaching practice, and to develop
   their capacity to teach with ICTs
2. Content development: using ICTs to develop
   relevant and appropriate educational content
   especially in the local language/s

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Conclusion: Placing People at the Center
of ICT in Education Policy and Practice
 1. Reaffirm the goal of education for all, and then
    consider how ICTs can be harnessed to
    achieve it.
 2. Ensure that ICTs in schools do not deepen
    inequalities in education provision, which in
    turn exacerbate political, social and economic
    inequalities in society.
 3. Ensure that ICTs will be utilized to develop
    skills that will empower individuals to fully
    participate in and have a good quality of life in
    the knowledge society.
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Conclusion: Placing People at the Center
of ICT in Education Policy and Practice
 4. Recognize the continuing relevance of older
    technologies in making educational
    opportunities accessible to marginalized
 5. Develop the capacities of teachers and
    learners to use ICTs to learn and to transform
    the information that ICTs make accessible,
    into knowledge that is useful to themselves
    and their communities.

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   A human development
 framework places “people,
rather than ICT, at the heart
 of the information society”.
    (Pradhan et al., 2005, p. 4)

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