For someone who’s aware that resources for public schoolsin the Philippines are scarce rather than minimal, to claim that public schools in Manitobaare well-endowed with their educational resources is easy, considering the competitive salary for teachers and staffs, small class size, updated library resources, complete sports facilities, and updated electronic gadgets. All these are almost a complete opposite to what public schools in the Philippineshave.
To a large extent, it is difficult to understand why despite the schools’ being “well-endowed,” students generally perform poorly in Math, Science, and Reading (if based on the Pan-Canadian Assessment Program). It purely presents a gap between having good resources and having good performance of students.
While the problem is precise, solutions can be variably complex and dynamic. Suffice it to say that students’ poor performance in Math, Science, and Reading cannot simply be about a change of course content and classroom pedagogy. It would surely require an integrated approach to address such problem.
Perhaps, an integrated approach to the problem should consider the following as key points for improvements:
1) Reform of student mindset. Students (at the very moment they start in school) must develop an “enlightened” understanding that education is a privilege that carries with it responsibility—that while the government (through citizens’ taxes) provides most of a student’s classroom needs, it is a student’s responsibility to perform well as a way “paying off” the government and the social community. Or, if education is to be looked at as a student’s right, then it should carry with it an obligation to perform well.
2) Re-examination of course content and classroom pedagogy.This is, of course, an easily perceived solution to students’ poor performance in Math, Science, and Reading. It would require an improved course content and improved teacher skills and method in teaching Math, Science, and Reading (as professors in Manitoba would recommend).
3) Establishment of Science and Math Schools. The government can start to explore the idea of putting up a Science and Math Schools where students’ concentration would be mostly on Science and Math. It is also at these schools where future scientists are to be trained.
4) Math, Science and Reading laboratories in schools. The government must secure that there are Math, Science and Reading laboratories in schools, and that these laboratories are far more equipped than the music room, art room, and gym.
5) Re-examination of French Immersion program. While inculcating French as a second or another language is culturally significant and/or may be professionally advantageous, speaking French should be a “means” for students to perform better in Math, Science, and Reading rather than an “end” itself. It should answer this question: Is the usage of French as a medium of instruction helping students perform better in all their subjects or it hinders?
6) Logic for High School students. While Logic is usually a university (elective) course, it would be best to have Logic in High School since Logic is more than an informative course, it’s a cognitivelytransformative skill—analytic thinking. Further, analytic thinking can help students do better in Math, Science, and Reading.
7) A culture of critical thinking. Students in high school must not only practice comprehension and analytic skills, they must start to learn the skill of critical thinking. Through critical thinking, students should be directed at challenging and improving an existing idea and/or belief. They should be able to answer this question: “What can I contribute to improve an existing idea or belief?”
These key points may appear as grandstanding and too ideal, at first. An examined understanding would, however, lead to the conclusion that these key points are practical and attainable if programs in education can be framed to specifically integrate them whether on a short-term or long-term goal. And, of course, if the government and school divisions will be willing to make a dent.
If this can be done, then we can perhaps look forward to Manitoba students’ outperforming Ontario students, or, at most, Singapore students in the world picture.
If this cannot be done, then it would likewise be easy to claim that public schools in Manitoba have “unmaximized resources.”