Some Imperatives of ICT Integration in the Philippine Educational System: Towards Modernization, Excellence and Relevance in a Highly Globalized Economy

AUTHOR
Jose V. Camacho, Roderica R. Camacho and Basilisa V. Camacho

ABSTRACT

The world today can be characterized on how information and knowledge can be accessed and fully utilized in order to achieve rapid economic and social development. Many economies have come to realize that investment in developing intellectual capital is the key to global competitiveness and an essential ingredient for economic efficiency and social equity. As World Bank in its 1999 World Development Report argues “(F)or countries in the vanguard of the world economy, the balance between knowledge and resources has shifted so far towards the former that knowledge has become perhaps the most important factor determining the standard of living – more than land, than tools, than labor. Today’s most technologically advanced economies are truly knowledge-based.”

The world today can be characterized on how information and knowledge can be accessed and fully utilized in order to achieve rapid economic and social development. Many economies have come to realize that investment in developing intellectual capital is the key to global competitiveness and an essential ingredient for economic efficiency and social equity. As World Bank in its 1999 World Development Report argues “(F)or countries in the vanguard of the world economy, the balance between knowledge and resources has shifted so far towards the former that knowledge has become perhaps the most important factor determining the standard of living – more than land, than tools, than labor. Today’s most technologically advanced economies are truly knowledge-based.”

As one examines their educational system, these highly industrialized and knowledge-based economies have dramatically restructured their learning systems and reoriented their educational paradigm starting from the basic to the advance levels of their educational ladder. The integration of information and communication technology (ICT) has become paramount feature of their educational curricula, school activities and programs. For instance, in OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)- member countries, curricular reforms were initiated “driven by a perceived need to reorient schooling from rote learning, shallow but wide coverage, and individualistic learning processes to higher level skills, problem solving, in depth study, and collaborative learning” (OECD 2001). The OECD book “Learning to Change: ICT in Schools” (2001) describes the “pervasive use of ICT in schools to be motivating.” It elaborates the economic, social and pedagogical justification or rationale for ICT integration in the classroom. Another notable effort in integrating ICT in the basic learning process can be seen in Alberta, Canada. In the Alberta ICT program, technology is incorporated as “a ‘way of doing things’ – the processes, tools and techniques that alter human activity.” The program gives a wider view on the “nature of technology, how to use and apply a variety of technologies, and the impact on self and society” (www.education.gov.ab.ca/k_12). The National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) in Ireland also provides many success stories as it illustrates various educational programs such as the “Schools IT 2000″ aimed at maximizing the benefits of ICT use among learners and teachers (www.ncte.ie)

The Philippine government has also been committed to modernize the Philippine educational system, in particular, on basic education, in its effort to make each and every student at par with other students in the developed economies. This is because in today’s knowledge economy and society, the capability to utilize and produce information and to transform it into knowledge and vast array of goods and services is very essential to economic growth and social development. Along with this effort are the continuous curricular changes and reorientation, teacher training and massive investment in school facilities and infrastructure, one of which is geared towards the vision of equipping each public school with the modern computer and other information and communication (ICT)-related gadgets and instructional materials.

It is lamentable to note that in spite of the many curricular reforms to improve the Philippine educational system, its performance indicators are dismal and disappointing. Recent data show that in the 2004 National Achievement Test given by the Department of Education, close to 98 percent of those who took the examination failed to get the passing score of 75 percent. In the High School Readiness Test conducted last year, only 64 percent got a grade of 75 percent or higher. What is more worrisome is the result that half of those who took the examination, around 500 thousand, did not manage to get a score of 30 percent. These appalling performance indicates that fewer and fewer number of Filipino elementary students have the mastery and competency for elementary and secondary education.

The country’s Department of Education (DepEd) ha initiated in 1996 the Computerization Program with the goal of preparing the Filipino students for employment by teaching them to master the new forms of technology being used in the workplace. Philippine education experts have long realized that public schools do not just want to teach students how to use technological tools, computers and other high tech learning gadgets. They would also like to harness and enhance the power of technology towards developing the entire teaching-learning process, specifically in its bid to make each and every public school student empowered in this highly globalized and integrated world economy.

However, integrating ICTs into the learning-teaching equation is not that simple and easy as it sounds, and certainly there are broader prerequisites of achieving classroom technological advancement. This paper explores the policy imperatives and investment requirements of enabling the Philippine educational system with ICT as it pursues the twin goals of modernization and relevance. It illustrates the various forms of innovation, pedagogical strategies and approaches and curricular initiatives to constantly steer the educational system towards excellence and global standards.

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