Appalling dropout, flunker rates even among teachers

GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 16, 2014

You’ve all heard of the soaring dropout rate among elementary and high schoolers. But did you know that the dropout rate of teacher trainees is just as bad?

For every 100 enrollees in teacher education, only 16 eventually graduate. And of the 16 teaching grads, only half pass the Licensure Exams for Teachers (LET) on the first try. Of the other eight who retake the test, only one passes to become eligible for public school posting. That’s according to latest statistics from the Commission on Higher Education.

This is not to yell, “Hey, teacher, leave those kids alone,” as the Pink Floyd did in their rock classic, “Another Brick in the Wall.” For, on one hand, it’s clear that the educational and licensing systems work. They are able thoroughly to screen only the best to become molders of the youth.

On the other hand, two maladies stand out: One, elementary and high schools do not churn out enough teacher potentials. Two, teacher educational institutions (TEIs) themselves fail to train passable grads.

Those are apparent in studies by the foundation Philippine Business for Education (PBEd):

• 601 TEIs for elementary and 795 TEIs for secondary teachers performed below their respective national passing rates.

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The 601 TEIs out of 1,025 for elementary (59 percent) had lower passing rates than the already bad national average of 52 percent.

The 795 TEIs out of 1,259 for secondary (63 percent) had worse passing rates than the national’s 56 percent.

A big chunk of these bad performing TEIs are Private Non-Sectarians (55 percent), followed by State Universities and Colleges (27 percent), Private Sectarian (13 percent), and Local Colleges and Universities (five percent).

• 107 TEIs for elementary and 151 TEIs for secondary had at least 75 percent of their teacher trainees passing the LET.

Only 107 TEIs for elementary out of 1,025 (10 percent) had three-fourths of their grads becoming eligible to teach in public schools.

Only 151 TEIs for secondary out of 1,259 (12 percent) had the same proportion of grads becoming qualified for public instructing.

Majority of these good performing TEIs are Private Non-Sectarians (35 percent), followed closely by Private Sectarian (31 percent), State Universities and Colleges (28 percent), and Local Colleges and Universities (six percent).

The PBEd study identified the country’s Top 10 TEIs. These are the teacher schools with large programs — 250 or more LET takers, with at least 80-percent passing rate for elementary and secondary grads:

• Category A (1,000-plus takers): Philippine Normal University-Manila, University of Santo Tomas (Manila), and St. Louis University (Baguio);

• Category B (500-999 takers): University of the Philippines-Diliman (Quezon City), Xavier University (Cagayan de Oro City), Bohol Island State University-Tagbilaran, University of Saint La Salle (Bacolod), and University of Southeastern Philippines-Tagum (Davao del Norte);

• Category C (250-499 takers): De La Salle University-Manila, and Ateneo de Naga University (Camarines Sur).

The study covers the LET results of 1,100 TEIs from Oct. 2009 to Sept. 2013. Spanning nine LETs, the study should help parents and students make informed decisions when choosing teacher colleges. Policymakers can also pick up sound and grounded research. The complete results are in the website:

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 The Dept. of Energy wants multibillion-dollar investors to avert a power shortfall of 600-700 megawatts (MW) a year in the three years to 2016. Yet the agency for ethnic tribesmen belatedly is stalling the erection of a 600-MW generation plant that initially had passed scrutiny. Another case of the government’s left hand not knowing what the right is doing? That’s what’s bugging the Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc., which should have commenced construction last year if not for an environmental protest by tribe folk. It takes 36 to 42 months to build a generation facility, and the RP Energy plant was slated to open in 2017. Its plans now hang on a case that has gone to the Supreme Court after passing through the appellate court. Hopefully other new generators in the Visayas and Mindanao do not hit similar snags.

Meanwhile, the DoE also is examining if Meralco, the country’s largest power distributor, is weaning away from the costly wholesale electricity spot market (WESM). This is to keep electricity retail rates affordable despite supply crunches and demand spikes in Luzon.

Meralco reportedly is doing more than just sign forward supply contracts with power generators. It is acquiring its own plants.

Meralco’s being forced last Nov. to buy from the WESM, the trading floor of generators, led to the tripling of customers’ bills in Dec.-Mar. That was when the Malampaya natural gas plant, the cheapest maker of electricity and Meralco’s main power source, shut down for preventive maintenance.

The DoE foresees a yellow alert in Luzon this summer; meaning, power supply falling below the capacity of the largest plant online. That’s 600 MW for Luzon. The red alert will continue in Mindanao, where demand has surpassed supply and reserves have hit zero.

Few investors are coming in to fill the gap. Meralco PowerGen Corp. is looking to operate a 500-MW plant in Mauban, Quezon, but that won’t come till 2018. A late entrant in generation, Meralco is also buying 20 percent of the biggest power producer in the Visayas, and planning two 600-MW plants in Bicol. Both works are slated for 2019.