Last modified on 1 October 2016, at 14:05


By Paul Bacsich, with help from Sara Frank Bristow and Gertjan, updated to VISCED level by Nikki Cortoos, formerly at ATiT

For entities in Philippines see Category:Philippines

The Philippines is an interesting example of an Asian country with a US-influenced education system yet not operating in English. There could be some interesting lessons for Europe in this hybrid mix.

Partners and Experts situated in Philippines


Philippines in a nutshell

(sourced from

The Philippines, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, is a country in Southeast Asia with Manila as its capital city. It comprises over 7,000 islands[ in the western Pacific Ocean.

The Philippines is the world's 12th most populous country, with an estimated population of over 100 million people (103,775,002 according to a July 2011 estimate by CIA).

Its capital is Manila but the largest city is Quezon City.

Its national economy is the 47th largest in the world, with an estimated 2008 gross domestic product (GDP nominal) of over US$ 168.6 billion (nominal). It is estimated that there are about 11 million overseas Filipinos worldwide, equivalent to about 11% of the total population of the Philippines. The Philippines is a newly industrialized country, with an economy anchored on agriculture but with substantial contributions from manufacturing, mining, remittances from overseas Filipinos, and service industries such as tourism, and business process outsourcing. It is also listed in the roster of the "Next Eleven" economies.

As a former colony of Spain, the Philippines is one of two predominantly Roman Catholic countries in Asia, the other being East Timor. There are also a number of minority religious groups, including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other beliefs. Multiple ethnicities, and cultures are found throughout the islands. Ecologically, the Philippines is one of the most diverse countries in the world.

The official name of the Philippines changed throughout the course of its history. During the Philippine Revolution, it was officially called República Filipina or the Philippine Republic. From the period of the Spanish-American War, and the Philippine-American War, until the Commonwealth period, American colonial authorities referred to the country as the Philippine Islands, a translation of the original Spanish name. It was during the American period that the name Philippines began to appear, a name that has become its common name. The official name of the country now is Republic of the Philippines.

The Philippines has a presidential, unitary form of government (with some modification; there is one autonomous region largely free from the national government), where the President functions as both head of state and head of government and is commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president is elected by popular vote to a single six-year term, during which time she or he appoints and presides over the cabinet.

The bicameral Congress is composed of a Senate, serving as the upper house whose members are elected to a six-year term, and a House of Representatives serving as the lower house, whose members are elected to a three-year term, and are elected from both legislative districts, and through sectoral representation.

The judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court, composed of a Chief Justice as its presiding officer, and fourteen associate justices, all appointed by the Philippine President from nominations submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council.

The Philippines is divided into three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. These are divided into 17 regions, 80 provinces, 120 cities, 1511 municipalities, and 42,008 barangays.

Over 180 native languages, and dialects are spoken in the Philippines. They are part of the Borneo-Philippines group of the Malayo-Polynesian languages, which is itself a branch of the Austronesian language family.

According to the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Filipino and English are the official languages. Filipino is the de facto version of Tagalog, spoken mainly in Metro Manila, and other urban regions. Both Tagalog, and English are used in government, education, print, broadcast media, and business. Major languages recognized in the constitution include Bicolano, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Tagalog, and Waray-Waray. Spanish, and Arabic are both recognized as auxiliary languages. Other languages such as Aklanon, Boholano, Chavacano, Zamboangueño, Cuyonon, Ifugao, Itbayat, Ivatan, Kalinga, Kamayo, Kankana-ey, Kinaray-a, Maguindanao, Maranao, Masbatenyo, Romblomanon, Surigaonon, Tausug, Yakan, and several Visayan languages are dominant in their respective provinces.

Education in Philippines

The Department of Education of the Philippines (DepEd) is the executive department of the Philippine government responsible for the management and governing of the Philippine system of basic education.

The Bureau of Secondary Education aims to give by the Third Millennium, every Filipino youth a better quality of life due to access to quality secondary education, good spiritual and moral life, economic stability, relevant cultural values, comprehensive work skills, strong sense of national identity and successful adjustment to his rapidly changing environment.


Philippines education policy

Schools follow the National Secondary Education Curriculum (NSEC) and the Philippine Secondary Schools Learning Competencies (PSSC).

Department of Education of the Philippines

The Governance of Basic Education Act of 2001 mentions the following:

policy of the State to protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality basic education and to make such education accessible to all by providing all Filipino children a free and compulsory education in the elementary level and free education in the high school level. Such education shall also include alternative learning systems for out-of-school youth and adult learners. It shall be the goal of basic education to provide them with the skills, knowledge and values they need to become caring, seIf-reliant, productive and patriotic citizens. (section 2)
Governance of basic education shall begin at the national level it is at the regions, divisions, schools and learning centers herein referred to as the field offices - where the policy and principle for the governance of basic education shall be translated into programs, projects and services developed, adapted and offered to fit local needs. (section 2)

And it defines:

  • Alternative Learning System as a parallel learning system which provides a viable alternative to the existing formal education instruction. It encompasses both the nonformal and informal sources of knowledge and skills.
  • School is an educational institution, private and public, undertaking educational operation with a specific age-group of pupils or students pursuing defined studies at defined levels, receiving instruction from teachers, usually located in a building or a group of buildings in a particular physical or cyber site.

Open High School System (OHSS)

The "Open High School System Act" established the OHSS as part of the Philippine Department of Education alternative secondary education programme was approved on 1st of June 2012. The OHSS will encourage self-learning and will start piloting alternative quality education through print, TV, radio, Internet, teleconferencing, multimedia and computer.

The bill covers all youth and adults who have finished elementary education and all other who qualify for high school education. It will adopt the National Secondary Education Curriculum. The service will involve "guro's" (teachers) as well as "gurong tagapatnuboay's" (teaching counsellors). OHSS aims primarily at all out-of-school youth and adults who graduated from elementary school but who are unable to attend high school because of geographic and/or socio economic constraints.

ODL still being in a premature stadium in the Philippines, the Department of Education will seek to collaborate with the University of the Philippines Open Educational System and the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) to design and establish the OHSS operations. Meanwhile DepEd (the Philippine Department of Education) already pilots a number of initiatives:

  • at highschool level: Open HS in three modes: modular, blended and I-Dep. Due to lack of resources these pilots have not taken off as desired and they remain in experimental phase. The OHSS will take this up and develop this hopefully further.
  • at elementary level: the OnSchool/OffSchool approach for congested schools (60+ class size) and e-Impact programme which is an enhanced instructional management service by parents, teachers and community developed by SEAMEO Innotech, see
  • for Special Needs Education (SPED) aimed at children with disabilities as well as for drop out learners special DL modules have been prepared, they are being provided through the SPED teachers at regional level (being piloted in a few regions with a view on national roll out).
  • a distance learning Teacher Training Programme in blended mode is being piloted in 48 schools (training on the job), evaluation will be carried out in August 2012

Also see:

News article: Bill for free high school education through distance learning OK'd, Paolo Romero, The Philippine Star, 2 June 2012, online,, 2 August 2012.

Philippines education system

(sourced from and

Education in the Philippines is mostly Westernized, based on the US education system. Philippine DepEd reports a functional literacy rate of 84.1% for 2003. Other agencies are much more optimistic, Literacy is about equal for males, and females. Spending for education composes 2.5% of GDP.

There were 42,152 elementary schools and 8,455 high schools registered with DepEd for school year 2006-2007. Classes start in June, and end in March. The majority of colleges, and universities follow a semester calendar from June to October, and November to March. There are a number of foreign schools with study programmes. The general pattern of formal education follows six stages:

  1. Preschool
  2. Elementary school
  3. High school
  4. Post-secondary education
  5. Graduate education
  6. Adult education

The Department of Education (DepEd), formerly (DECS), covers elementary, secondary, and non-formal education; the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) administers the post-secondary, middle-level education training, and development; while the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) supervises the college as well as graduate academic programmes, and degrees as well as regulate standards in higher education.

For a list of colleges and universities see

Schools in Country

Further and Higher education

(sourced from

Higher education institutions in the Philippines are either colleges or universities, and they are generally classified either as public or private. Colleges are tertiary institutions that typically offer one or a few specialized courses, for example, in the sciences or in liberal arts, whereas universities are tertiary institutions housing several constituent colleges or institutes, each offering academic degree programs of a particular type (i.e., college of commerce, college of law, college of dentistry, college of education, etc.).

Public tertiary education

Public universities are all non-sectarian entities, and are further classified as State University and College (SUC) or Local College and University (LCU). SUCs are fully funded by the national government as determined by the Philippine Congress. The University of the Philippines, being the national university, receives the biggest chunk of the budget among the 456 state colleges and universities. LCUs, on the other hand, are run by local government units. The Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila is first and largest among the LCUs.

Private tertiary institutions

Private colleges and universities may either be "sectarian" or "non-sectarian" entities. Institutions may be not-for-profit, or profit oriented. Most private schools are not-for-profit Catholic like Adamson University (Vincentian), the Ateneo de Manila University (Jesuit), De La Salle University (Christian Brothers), Don Bosco Technical College (Salesian), and the University of Santo Tomas (Dominican). However, there are also non-Catholic not-for-profit sectarian institutions such as Silliman University (Protestant), Trinity University of Asia (Anglican), and New Era University (Iglesia Ni Cristo).

Non-sectarian private schools, on the other hand, are corporations licensed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Some of them are also registered on the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Universities in Philippines

The portal site Ilink notes on page that:

According to statistics from the Commission of Higher Learning (CHED), there are over two thousand Philippine universities and colleges as of October 2008. About a hundred and twenty of them are state-owned.
The colleges and universities in the Philippines are classified into either state universities and colleges (SUCs), which are subsidized by the national government, local universities and colleges (LUCs), which are supported by the local government, private universities and colleges, CHED supervised Institutions (CSI), and other government schools (OGS). There are also special higher education institutions (HEIs) providing specialized training in areas such as military science and national defense.

Universities in Philippines are overseen by the Commission on Higher Education

Commission on Higher Education

For more details see

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is the key leader of the Philippine Higher Education System working in partnership with other major higher education stakeholders in building the country’s human capital and innovation capacity.

Given the national government’s commitment to transformational leadership that puts education as the central strategy for investing in the Filipino people, reducing poverty, and building national competitiveness and pursuant to Republic Act 7722, CHED shall:

  1. Promote relevant and quality higher education (i.e. higher education institutions and programs are at par with international standards and graduates and professionals are highly competent and recognized in the international arena);
  2. ensure that quality higher education is accessible to all who seek it particularly those who may not be able to afford it;
  3. guarantee and protect academic freedom for continuing intellectual growth, advancement of learning and research, development of responsible and effective leadership, education of high level professionals, and enrichment of historical and cultural heritages; and
  4. commit to moral ascendancy that eradicates corrupt practices, institutionalizes transparency and accountability and encourages participatory governance in the Commission and the sub-sector.

University of the Philippines

(sourced from

The University of the Philippines (or Unibersidad ng Pilipinas in Filipino and commonly abbreviated as U.P.) is the national university of the Philippines. Founded in 1908 through Act No. 1870 of the first Philippine Legislature, known as the "University Act" by authority of the United States, the University currently provides the largest number of degree programs in the country. The University is considered as the premier institution of higher learning in the Philippines Several (7) Philippine Presidents have attended courses in the University either as undergraduates or as postgraduate students, while 12 chief justices of the Supreme Court, 36 out of the 57 National Artists and 30 out of the 31 National Scientists are affiliated with the University.

U.P. has the most National Centers of Excellence and Development among higher education institutions in the country[9] and one of only three schools in Asia that have received institutional recognition in the Ramon Magsaysay Awards.

U.P. is partly subsidized by the Philippine government. Students of the university and its graduates are referred to as "Iskolar ng Bayan" ("Scholars of the Nation"). This makes admission into the University extremely competitive. In 2006, 70,000 applicants attended to test centers to take the University of the Philippines College Admission Test (UPCAT) for undergraduate admission. Around 11,000 of the applicants were admitted for the year 2006, an acceptance rate of about 18% for the whole of the UP system.

Polytechnics in Philippines

Colleges in Philippines

Education reform



Administration and finance



Quality assurance, inspection and accreditation


Elementary education and high school qualifiers can take the Philippine Educational Placement Test (PEPT). PEPT is open to out-of-school and in-school children and youth who would like to upgrade their academic level or complete their basic education.

The PEPT covers all grade or year levels from Grade 1 to fourth-year high school. It focuses on subjects English, Math, Filipino, Science, and HEKASI for elementary, and English, Math, Filipino, Science, and Araling Panlipunan for high school.



(sourced from

Most tertiary institutions, generically called higher education institutions by the Commission on Higher Education of the Philippines (CHED) are licensed, controlled, and supervised by CHED. Records from CHED showed that the country had 1,494 private institutions and 522 state-run colleges and universities, a total of 2016 HEI's as of December 17, 2007.

Accreditation for Private institutions

Voluntary accreditation of all institutions is subject to the policies of the Commission on Higher Education. Voluntary accrediting agencies in the private sector are the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU), the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities' Commission on Accreditation (PACUCOA), and the Association of Christian Schools, Colleges and Universities Accrediting Association Inc. (ACSCU-AAI) which all operate under the umbrella of the Federation of Accrediting Agencies of the Philippines FAAP, which itself is the organization authorized by CHED.

All of the institutions accredited by these three agencies authorised by FAAP are private institutions. Under CHED's Revised Policies and Guidelines on Voluntary Accreditation in Aid of Quality and Excellence and Higher Education, there are four levels of accreditation, with Level IV being the highest.

Accreditation can be either of programs or of institutions. Almost all accreditation is of programs. However, two private universities have been granted Level IV institutional status by PAASCU (as authorised by FAAP), namely De La Salle University, and Ateneo de Manila University.

Accreditation for Public institutions

Some of the government-supported institutions have banded themselves to a National Network of Quality Assurance Agencies (NNQAA) composed of the Accrediting Association of Chartered Colleges and Universities of the Philippines (AACCUP) and the Association of Local Colleges and Universities-Commission On Accreditation (ALCU-COA). AACCUP, as well as PAASCU are active member of the International Network of Quality Assurance Agencies for Higher Education (INQAAHE), and both are members of the Asia Pacific Quality Network.

The Technical Vocational Education Accrediting Agency of the Philippines (TVEAAP) was established and registered with the Securities Exchange Commission on 27 October 1987. On 28 July 2003, the FAAP board accepted the application of TVEAAP to affiliate with the Federation.

Information society

ICT in education initiatives

e-IMPACT Learning System

In order to address problems in education in the public school system such as lack of classrooms, teachers and textbooks, high drop-out rate and a low budget allocated for education, the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Innotech designed the Enhanced Instructional Management for Parents, Community and Teachers (e-IMPACT), a technology-enhanced alternative delivery mode of learning wherein a peer-led approach is the main process that allows pupils to learn, interact with each other and develop to their fullest potential.

In the e-IMPACT system, every single pupil has access to modules and instructional materials to guide them in their education. More than being trained on how to become facilitators of the learning process, the school faculty learns new perspectives about children and child education. Parents and members of the community become actively engaged in sustaining the system and making it work. Their support is crucial in ensuring that the learning process continues in their homes. Thus, in the process of learning with the child, a whole community is transformed.

Virtual initiatives in schools

Open High School Program (OHSP)

The Open High School Program (OHSP) is a distance learning program for high school students who are unable to attend regular classes due to physical, economic and geographical limitations. A part of the Drop Out Reduction Program (DORP) of the Department of Education and funded by the Asian Development Bank, the OHSP was first started in 1998 and is now offered by an increasing number of public schools across the country.

The program provides an opportunity for elementary school graduates, high school drop-outs and successful examinees of the Philippine Education Placement Test (PEPT) to complete secondary education in a purely distance learning mode. The program provides printed self-learning modules for students to use for their lessons and classroom activities.


Internet-Based Distance Education Program (iDEP)

Internet-Based Distance Education Program (iDEP) is a secondary education program run by the Bureau of Secondary Education (BSE) of the Department of Education (DepED) offering formal secondary education to qualifying students using Internet-based technologies. The use of Internet-based technologies enables certain existing high schools to create and manage classes completely on-line.

It is intended for students who are unable to go to a regular school and the only way of getting a formal Philippine-accredited secondary education is through the Internet. There are 3 pilot schools.

Virtual Campuses in HE

University of the Philippines - Open University (UPOU) =

Established on 23 February 1995, the University of the Philippines - Open University (UPOU) pioneered in online teaching and learning and continues to play a leading role in the study and practice of open learning and distance education in the Philippines.

UPOU is envisioned as a leader in teaching and learning in the digital age, helping to equip Filipinos with the knowledge and skills they need for life and work in the 21st century.

Our mission is to provide Filipinos everywhere access to quality higher education through innovative methods of teaching and learning that are designed to be responsive to their needs as well as to national development priorities. We uphold the values of scholarship, academic excellence, academic freedom, humanism, social responsibility, and service to the nation.

We are the nation’s most comprehensive distance education institution, with two undergraduate programs, nine post-baccalaureate certificate and diploma programs, 11 master’s programs, two doctoral programs and 9 non-formal courses.We have a network of 10 learning centers and 19 testing centers in the country and abroad. This coupled with our ability to harness a wide range of digital technologies in education, have enabled us to build a global community of mostly Filipino learners in more than 40 countries.


Interesting Programmes


Re.ViCa Case-study


Lessons learnt

General lessons

Notable practices


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