While children of all ages are enjoying their summers in Alaska under endless sun and outdoor exploration, children in the Philippines are starting off their school year in June.
The school year begins in June and ends in March. The month of May is the mayhem of school supply hunting. From the local stores in each barrio to the mega malls in the major cities, the mall grows into a restless swarm of children and young adults who are anticipating the new school year. Walking through the mall is an overwhelming battle, but it is especially challenging attempting to walk with ease between the many group of friends who link their arms together signifying their pact of friendships. As social interaction goes, most children and young adults meet their friends through school.
In the olden days, elementary school consisted of kindergarten through sixth grade and then four years of high school. Before the establishment of the K-12 Program of DepEd and the passing of the Kindergarten Education Act 2012 and Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, the typical age to graduate from high school was 16 years old.
With the improvements and influence from the United States’ education system, there is now a junior high school. The transition from elementary school to high school was detrimental from the lack of preparation for advanced education. Since then, the new establishment has a structure of four years in junior high school. High school has two years of specialized programs such as STEM, business, humanities and education, technical-vocational-livelihood, and sports and arts.
As the school system continues to improve in the Philippines, some aspects tend to stand out compared to the United States.
School starts at seven o’clock in the morning until five o’clock in the evening. During these long hours of studying, students have packed schedules consisting of but not limited to: English, math, social studies, history of the Philippines, Filipino language, economics, science, physical education, writing/penmanship class, and practical survival skills. Within each classroom sits approximately 50 students with sections depending on the individual’s academic performance. Most students lean towards becoming a nurse, doctor, or engineer with a mindset to help those who are in need.
Regardless of obtaining a doctorate’s degree or a masters in engineering, most students look for futures abroad because of the 93.4% unemployment rate, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. Although education is mandatory in many households, families struggle to enroll their children in school due to the lack of quality, teacher shortage, and affordability.
The Filipino culture is a family oriented atmosphere. Albeit the drive to becoming educated individuals, some children, regardless of age, have to work selling food, selling recycled bottles and cans, or giving rides on a pedicab to provide for their families. Filipino students, nonetheless, strive for an education to support their families and build better futures for those around them.
Despite the educational differences of the Philippines and the United States, the main attribute both systems offer is higher education. The two systems main source of enlightenment for these young minds is the primary years of education to enable each child to define their aspirations.