(Updated on December 5, 2019)Science has been defined in a plethora of ways since the scientific revolution, dating back to the 17th century.
In fact, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2018) hosts a multitude of its conceived definitions, including “the state of knowing which distinguishes from ignorance,” “a departmentalized and systematized knowledge as an object of study,” and “a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws as obtained from the scientific method.”
It is worth noting that most of these definitions all emphasize the notion that science is merely equivalent to knowledge, which for a six-year-old kid can just mean a huge depot of facts and trivia.
Science in public schools: a personal experience
If you’re part of the majority of the population that went through their elementary education in a public school like me, you would easily recall the atmosphere of such an environment. Forty to fifty students clustered in a classroom, staying in school from 8 am to 4 pm, patiently going through all their subjects in one day. I belonged to the special science class, the top section of the batch as perceived by most teachers.
Unlike most of my batchmates who endured the agony of staying in bland classrooms, my section’s classrooms through the years were actually good. They had science quotes posted on the walls, a solar system model attached to the ceiling, diorama projects on different ecosystems, a life-size human skeletal model, shelves of science textbooks, and even laboratory glassware donated by alumni.
All of these things in our classroom created the impression that our science classes were good and fun, but that’s not how it works. For one, our section NEVER used the glassware in our classrooms. As a child, I really wondered why we never used them. Would it be any better if we just let such resources collect dust on the shelves? Our teacher always explained that these items were ‘fragile’ and not suitable for children’s use. I always thought that even the simple lesson of introducing such glassware and demonstrating how to use them would be really exciting. Unfortunately, that never happened.
A large chunk of our science classes were not necessarily “classes.” Most of them sadly revolved around being the fastest pupil to copy all the words on the board. We did this two to three times a week, alongside the signature “shh” sounds that the monitor makes in order to prevent the class from being too noisy. Most of our classes involved group presentations with our ever-reliable Manila paper and black markers. We were given tasks, and we were obligated to present our answers to the class. Experiments were indeed sporadic, and most of the time, we only had one per quarter. Up to this point, I feel bothered by the fact that I can’t specifically remember any of the experiments we did.
That’s my personal experience as a science class pupil, and I can only wonder how my batchmates from the non-special science class fared. Things changed when I went to Philippine Science High School for my secondary education, but was that the case for my other batchmates who went to the other public DepEd schools as well?
Science education in our country cannot be considered as a strength. Based on 2014 statistics, the passing rate for the national achievement test (NAT) for grade six pupils is only 69.21%. The passing rate for high school seems far worse, with a passing rate of only 46.38% from 2010 statistics. Moreover, the Philippines consistently performs abysmally in international surveys.
One example is the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). In 2003, for high school, the country ranked only 34th out of 38 countries in HS II Math, and 43rdout of the 46 participating countries in HS II Science. For elementary, fourth grade participants ranked 23rdout of the 25 countries in both math and science. Our country stopped participating in the survey in 2008, perhaps after getting such lackluster scores.
More recently, the country participated in the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the study ranked79 participating economies based on their students’ performance in reading, science and math. Filipino students hadthe lowest mean score in reading comprehension (340 points, below the 487-point survey average). They also ranked second to the last in science (357) and math (353), below the489-point average in both subjects.
This raises an all-important question: Why is this so?
Shortage of teachers
Numerous factors can be attributed to the current predicament faced by the country. First and foremost would be the shortage of science and math teachers in the country. In 2016, DepEd secretary Leonor Briones stressed the need to hire more teachers with the implementation of the K to 12 program, which created 36,641 free teaching posts. The government tried to make ends meet for this shortage by having DepEd offer teaching posts with above entry-level salary grades to Science and Technology graduates under the Junior Level Science Scholarships of the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute.
The scholar graduates of the program would also receive a teacher training program for them to qualify for the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET). Qualifying graduates from the scholarship would be given the position of special science teacher with a starting salary grade of 13. DepEd also called for graduates of Science, Math, or Engineering courses without LET certification, as well TESDA accredited technical-vocational graduates with expertise in specific learning areas, to apply as part-time teachers for the K to 12 Senior High School Program.
Shortage of classrooms
The shortage of classrooms for DepEd schools is also an issue. With the implementation of the K-12 program, Benjie Valbuena, national chair of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Philippines (ACT-Philippines) estimated the classroom shortage in the country to be 113,995 as of 2017. By June 2017, Education Undersecretary Jesus Mateo announced that 50,000 of the needed 113,000 classrooms had already been completed and are pending for use. The undersecretary stressed the objective of the government to create more classrooms “to meet lower class size, which leads to conducive learning.”
Shortage of laboratories
Aside from the obvious lack of classrooms, there is also a lack of science laboratories to facilitate science learning and application of its concepts to students. In 2014, DepEd reported a shortage of science laboratories in regions III, IV-A, X, XI, and XII, with an average of only one in ten schools having its own laboratory. In the National Capital Region, the ratio improved with three laboratories for every 10 schools; however, the findings showed that the rest of the regions did not have any science laboratories.This problem prompted researchers from Diliman and Los Banos of the University of the Philippines to develop Versatile Instrumentation System for Science Education and Research (VISSER).
This instrumentation system includes hardware, software, sensors, and experiment modules for various science subjects. The device’s hardware component includes multi-channel plug and play analog and digital sensors that run on a microcontroller. The microcontroller pools all the information and connects such hardware to the device’s modules, which include experiments in biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering.
UP associate professor Ranzivelle Marianne L. Roxas-Villanueva presents the VISSER project at a press briefing. Image credit: Newsbytes.ph
Quality of learning materials
DepEd also faces a challenge in terms of the quality of its textbooks. Many teachers have reported that the books are obsolete and flooded with errors. In Torrijos, Marinduque, the situation of “sick books” is nothing new. Teachers from that municipality are well-acquainted with the circulation of such textbooks. They even provided a copy of an English book for children inundated with marks from highlighter pens showing typographical, grammatical, factual, and conceptual errors. Antonio Calipjo Go, a critic of the circulating DepEd textbooks, identified 1,300 “errors” in a Grade 10 English Learning book. An anonymous teacher also pointed out numerous errors in her draft copy of the 2014 Grade 9 Science Learner’s material. These errors were already reported in order to improve the final version of the material.
The general perception of science in the Philippines
The aforementioned predicaments of Philippine education severely limit how most the public schools can teach science to their students. The lack of classrooms limits the conduciveness of lectures to students; public schools that lack classrooms oftentimes compensate by holding classes at their multipurpose gymnasiums, with their makeshift classrooms separated only by curtains. Students there can hear the chatter all over the place, and end up listening not only to their teacher’s lecture, but also to the lecture from the adjacent classroom.
Textbooks and learning materials are also critical. If they are bland and unengaging, how can one expect students to even flip through their pages with interest? The lack of laboratories also damages the quality of education, limiting teachers to lectures and reporting activities for students instead of lab experiments that show how the concepts work in real life. Filipino students are bombarded with theories and terminologies, which are not necessarily the things that make science exciting. Scientists do not memorize and regurgitate information; they ask questions, predict outcomes, and actually perform experiments.
With these limitations in science teaching, one cannot help but wonder how our countrymen perceive science. The average Filipino who does not work in a science-related industry has likely never related the concept to his or her everyday life. The word ‘science’ itself seems distant and elusive, only being applied to people who spend most of their days in the lab or in the classroom. When you hear the word ‘science’, what comes to mind? Probably, it’s a bunch of concepts from biology such as evolution, or the oft-repeated statement that “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.”As far as chemistry goes, you might remember mixtures, compounds, and elements. In terms of physics, you would probably just imagine blackboard full of equations and symbols, with Albert Einstein patiently and painstakingly trying to make you understand them.
Science at its core
Many would say that science is something that normal people don’t actively engage in. However, in reality, science is a crucial part of our everyday lives. One of the most well-known promoters of science, Carl Sagan, once said:
“Science is more than a body of knowledge. It’s a way of thinking; a way of skeptically interrogating the universe.”
Notice that in his quote, there is no emphasis on memorizing all the bones in the body, or being adept at solving all the kinematic equations. It simply boils down to questioning everything around us.
Over the centuries, innumerable discoveries and advances in science came as a result of the scientific method. It is a framework that most scientists and researchers follow in conducting their investigations and scientific work. Note that I used the term ‘framework’ instead of procedure or steps. That’s because there are many fields in science, each with their own variation of the method as needed.
Thus, when one hears the term ‘scientific method’, what should come to mind are only the following: asking questions to explore cause and effect relationships, proper gathering and examining of acquired evidence, and synthesizing all available information to come up with an answer to the initial question. This is how science worked before, and how it will continue to work in the foreseeable future. We should erase the notion that treats science just as a body of knowledge, expecting students to only cough up concepts and fancy terms such as photosynthesis or glycolysis.
As Sagan said, it is a way of thinking — and that is how it serves its purpose in nation-building.
A long journey for science in the Philippines
Providing competent science education facilitates students to be curious at a young age. It also cultivates their set of beliefs, based on the answers to their questions. Science pushes for the concept of objectivity, as opposed to relying solely on emotions that might hinder proper decision-making. Instead of arguing based on gut feel or emotions alone, we present data and facts. At the same time, we remain open-minded about the perspectives of other people. The values of objectivity and open-mindedness, in turn, enable and encourage people to listen to each other.
With this in mind, the current situation of STEM education in the Philippines proves that we have a long road ahead of us. Nevertheless, this should not stop us from pausing and admitting that yes, there is a problem that we should work upon.
We can still improve our textbooks and learning materials. We can still encourage more people to become STEM educators. And we can still improve our NAT scores, and confidently participate in international surveys once more.
Improving science education will not only allow our country to have citizens who are thinkers first and foremost, but also increase the number of STEM graduates to address the glaring industrial and agricultural needs that will boost the economic growth of our country.
The Philippines is still a developing country; however, that’s not a classification that one should be ashamed of. It’s an indication that that our country experienced massive setbacks due to colonization, corruption, and the lack of a properly educated voting population. In fact, we are completely capable of achieving the successes experienced by countries on the other side of the globe.
What we should know is that for us to reach such a goal, we need science. Not just science discussed in textbooks and observed in laboratories, but science in everyday life;science that is evident in how we handle all of our tasks and decisions. A strong science education is not an option, it is a must.
We must improve the ways we teach science in the Philippines, if we want to see ourselves moving and thinking forward. –MF
Note: The views expressed in this essay are based on the author’s opinions, experiences, and research.
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- UP team develops low-cost science lab for public high schools. 2017. Newsbytes Philippines. [accessed 2018 Apr 3]. http://newsbytes.ph/2017/04/02/up-team-develops-low-cost-science-lab-for-public-high-schools/.
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Author: Rafael Ambag
A science kid at heart, Paeng aims to spark the interest of the common man in science through science journalism and organizing science camps for elementary children. He is an incoming freshman under UP Diliman’s BS Molecular Biology and Biotechnology program.
Why do you think science education in the Philippines is important? ›
Importance of the School Science Education
It develops students' scientific inquiry skills, values and attitudes, such as objectivity, curiosity, and honesty and habits of mind including critical thinking.
- Be silly and enthusiastic about topics. ...
- Call in the experts. ...
- Use lots of visuals. ...
- Make connections to real-world examples. ...
- Hands-on and collaborative activities e.g., labs, explorations, experiments, inquiry, design challenges. ...
- Keep it at their level.
There are many constraints facing science education in Philippine schools: shortage of qualified science teachers, lack of quality textbooks, inadequate equipment, large classes, lack of support from administrators, and many others.Do you think establishing science schools in the Philippines could really help to improve the state of science education in the country? ›
Science schools are one of the molders of the students or even, the future scientists and they are really part of the factors that improve the state of science education in the Philippines. It is because they offer programs as well as activities which are related to science.What are the 3 focuses of science education in the Philippines? ›
Science education focuses on teaching, learning, and understanding science.What are 3 reasons why science is important? ›
- Science Increases our Fundamental Knowledge.
- New Technology.
- Creates New Applications.
- Science Allows us to Share Ideas.
- Helps us Understand Our World Even Better.
- Importance to School Students.
- Learning Science: The Benefits.
Teaching science requires critical thinking, effective communication, collaboration and creativity. Real-life scenarios, peer-to-peer teaching, hands-on activities, science projects and field research journals are effective teaching techniques in the science curricula.What makes the most successful science teaching? ›
Effective science teachers involve students in making sense of natural events and the science ideas underlying them. In other words, they actively engage students in wondering and figuring out science phenomena around them and how they happen.What is the most effective strategy in teaching science? ›
Inquiry-based learning and project-based learning are two of the most effective instructional strategies that I have used to teach science to my English-learners.What is the biggest problem facing our educational system today in the Philippines? ›
However, high dropout rates and poor performance in national and international achievement tests continue to hound the country's education system. Since colonial days, the same fundamental issues are afflicting Philippine education.
What is the biggest challenge in teaching science? ›
One of the biggest challenges teachers face as science teachers is creating lessons that will not only get students to learn but hold student interest. Students find it easier to stay on task when they can relate to the topic they are studying.What are the major challenges that you face while teaching science? ›
- Lets start from some day to day. problems. •Lack of teachers – qualified teachers, and. competent teachers' • Lack of time for teachers to prepare for. experimental work's preparation. • ...
- Instruments problems..
- Some more classroom problems.
- Some more psychological. problems.
- Lack of Infrastucture. Huge number of. students.
SCIENCE EDUCATION INSTITUTE (SEI), DOST, REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES - CHAN ROBLES VIRTUAL LAW LIBRARY. Science Education Institute (SEI), Department of Science and Technology (DOST). DOST-SEI Merit Scholarship (Formerly Project 5801 or S&T Scholarship Program B)What is the main goal of science high school in the Philippines? ›
The PSHS System prepares its students for careers in Science and Technology and contributes to nation building by helping the country attain a critical mass of professionals and leaders in Science and Technology.Why is it important for the government to create programs that will help improve science education in our country? ›
Science education aims to increase people's understanding of science and the construction of knowledge as well as to promote scientific literacy and responsible citizenship.How can we improve the quality of education in the Philippines? ›
- Maintained infrastructure. ...
- Pedagogy skills. ...
- Quality of teachers. ...
- Extra-curricular activities. ...
- Proper implementation of a government initiative. ...
- Assessment and evaluation tools. ...
- Community building.
Science education cultivates students' curiosity about the world and enhances scientific thinking. Through the inquiry process, students will recognise the nature of science and develop scientific knowledge and science process skills to help them evaluate the impacts of scientific and technological development.Why is science education not being given much importance in government in the Philippines? ›
The main factors that account for the low performance in science of the Filipino students include the lack of support for a scientific culture reflected in the deficiencies regarding the school curriculum, the inadequate teaching learning process, insufficient instructional materials and lack of teacher training.Why is it important to teach science? ›
Science teaches kids about the world around them. From the human body to methods of transportation, science can explain the mechanics and reasons behind complex systems. This knowledge can be used to understand new concepts, make informed decisions and pursue new interests.What is the importance of science in today's world? ›
It contributes to ensuring a longer and healthier life, monitors our health, provides medicine to cure our diseases, alleviates aches and pains, helps us to provide water for our basic needs – including our food, provides energy and makes life more fun, including sports, music, entertainment and the latest ...
What are the benefits of teaching science? ›
Science education gives students the opportunity to gain a better knowledge of how and why things function. Children get an appreciation for skepticism through studying science. Science can also create curiosity that helps students understand and formulate questions on the information they have accumulated.What is the best approach in teaching science and why is it important? ›
Inquiry-based learning: This approach to teaching offers students an opportunity to ask questions, investigate issues, select methods, and solve problems that have been posed to them by the teacher. The process is based on problem solving as a way to enhance motivation and learning.What is the meaning of flipped learning? ›
Flipped learning is a methodology that helps teachers to prioritize active learning during class time by assigning students lecture materials and presentations to be viewed at home or outside of class. One of the most exciting advancements in the modern classroom is flipped learning.What is the most effective way to teach science to children? ›
Simply stated, the best way for kids to learn science is by doing real science. A child can read scientific facts and obtain knowledge from a book. However, when they are fully immersed in the learning process, problem-solving and fully understanding science concepts will begin to come naturally.What is the big goal of teaching science? ›
The purpose of science education is for students to understand and interpret the natural systems of the world around them. Science is driven by curiosity and reasoning and is much more than the memorization of scientists, theories, and formulas. The education of science encourages problem solving and collaboration.What is one of the best goals of science teaching? ›
The study of Science should allow students to think, inquire, research, and answer questions about the natural world. It should develop students' creative thinking and critical thinking skills.What can you say about the current Philippine educational system? ›
Understanding the Philippine education system
In the Philippines, a thirteen-year education is mandatory by law. These thirteen years run from kindergarten up to grade 12, also known as the K-12 programme. After which, students have the option of whether to pursue higher education or not.
According to the data gathered, 90.9 percent of Filipino children aged 10 appear to be in a situation of learning poverty, while 90.4 percent are classified as suffering from learning deprivation. Additionally, 5 percent of Filipino children at that age are still unschooled.What is the quality of education in Philippines? ›
Based on the PISA released on December 3, 2019, the Philippines scored the lowest among 79 countries in reading comprehension. In terms of mathematics and science, the Philippines ranked second-lowest. Studies have identified several issues with the implementation of these reforms.What are the 2 biggest challenges facing teachers today? ›
- Understanding the different learning challenges amongst students. ...
- Student family problems & bullying. ...
- Lack of funding. ...
- Lack of effective communication. ...
- Being encouraging and motivating under challenging times. ...
- Disciplining students. ...
- Endless paperwork & extended working hours.
What is the greatest challenge facing teaching today? ›
The biggest challenge for any teacher lies in understanding the different learning abilities of the students. Students differ in their grasping, memory, concentration, ability to learn and write and show varied interests in various subjects.What are the weaknesses in teaching science? ›
The most common weaknesses were found to be lack of field knowledge, lack of self-confidence, inability to do experiments, lack of laboratory knowledge, inability to design/use materials, and lack of interest in and attitude toward science.What are the factors that affect the teaching of science? ›
Intelligence, cognitive styles and personality are individual characteristic that play important role in teaching and learning. Other variables such as motivational orientation, self-esteem and learning approaches are important factors that affect teaching and learning.What are the top 5 issues and challenges encountered by the teachers in the implementation of K to 12 mathematics curriculum? ›
Insufficient learning materials such as books and readers guides, more than one preparation for DLL's, and lack of laboratories and other teaching and learning facilities, difficulties in assessing Student-Transferee from other educational institution offering different subjects, more than one preparation for DLL's, ...Why is the teaching and learning of science difficult? ›
Science has been a difficult subject for students because it contains complex and abstract content (Millar, 1991) . The process of making sense of science concepts, theories, and principles is challenging because these concepts are not learned by formulas and calculations (Johnstone, 1991). ...Why it is very important to enhance science education in the Philippines? ›
Importance of the School Science Education
It develops students' scientific inquiry skills, values and attitudes, such as objectivity, curiosity, and honesty and habits of mind including critical thinking.
There are many constraints facing science education in Philippine schools: shortage of qualified science teachers, lack of quality textbooks, inadequate equipment, large classes, lack of support from administrators, and many others.What are the main goal of Smarter Philippines of department of science and technology? ›
Montejo was referring to the 'Smarter Philippines' vision of DOST, which he said as “a goal that places the department's initiatives in disaster mitigation, governance, health care, agriculture, transportation, education, and others into a singular, all-encompassing roadmap”.Why is Philippine Science High School Good? ›
Future-proof education also demands that PSHS teaches students analytical skills and develop their creativity to cope with the new ways of living, thinking, learning, working, and building communities through science, technology, and innovation in the digital era.What programs have been made to improve science education in the Philippines? ›
- S&T Scholarship under R.A. 7687 or S&T. Scholarship Act of 1994 (S&T Scholarship Program A)
- DOST-SEI Merit Scholarship (Formerly Project 5801 or S&T Scholarship Program B)
- Junior Level Assistance Program (JLAP)
- BS Scholarships in Science Education.
- S&T Human Resource Development Planning.
Why is science education so important? ›
Science is able to explain the mechanics and reasons behind the daily functioning of complex systems, which range from the human body to sophisticated modern methods of transport. Children and students are able to use this knowledge to understand new concepts, make well-informed decisions and pursue new interests.What do you think is the state of science education in the Philippines? ›
Along this line, the science education in the country is faced with many constrains such as the shortage of qualified science teachers, lack of quality textbooks, inadequate instructional materials and equipment, large classes, and lack of support from administrators.Why is learning science education important? ›
Science education aims to increase people's understanding of science and the construction of knowledge as well as to promote scientific literacy and responsible citizenship. We can use science communication to increase science-related knowledge among adults, in particular.What are the most important goals of science education? ›
Goals for Science Education
From its inception, one of the principal goals of science education has been to cultivate students' scientific habits of mind, develop their capability to engage in scientific inquiry, and teach students how to reason in a scientific context .
generate and evaluate scientific evidence and explanations; understand the nature and development of scientific knowledge; and. participate productively in scientific practices and discourse.What are 5 reasons science is important? ›
- Studying Science Inspires Curiosity and an Attitude of Discovery. ...
- Studying Science Promotes the Understanding That Progress Has Been Happening for Centuries. ...
- Studying Science Encourages the Integration of Subjects and Ideas. ...
- Studying Science Encourages Truth Seeking.
The main factors that account for the low performance in science of the Filipino students include the lack of support for a scientific culture reflected in the deficiencies regarding the school curriculum, the inadequate teaching learning process, insufficient instructional materials and lack of teacher training.Why are science schools such as Philippine Science High School System established in the Philippines *? ›
In 1963, the Republic Act (R.A.) 3661 established the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) to offer a scholarship on secondary education with emphasis on science to prepare students for a science career.