The Philippines, Tim Tebow and more

Tim Tebow in the Philippines

In the U.S and especially at my university, there is an awful lot of buzz going on about Tim Tebow. Most of the talk around here is praise for the young NFL quarterback, although he’s withstood some harsh criticism and mocking as well.

Because we have become so fascinated with Tebow’s life and upbringing, most of us know that Tebow grew up in a missionary family serving in the Philippines. Perhaps that is even the first thing some of us think of when we hear about the Philippines.

I wanted to know more about the country, particularly the living conditions and educational opportunities there.  The Tebow family has helped and continues to help maintain an orphanage there. The rest of their work falls under evangelistic categories.

But what about the rest of the country? Since it has undoubtedly gotten at least some amount of press coverage, has this helped?

I looked up some statistics. In the State of the World’s Children 2012 report by UNICEF, I found that the Philippines ranked number 80 in under-5 mortality rates in 2010. To put that in perspective, the U.S placed at 145th.

This is an OK indication of the country’s economic status, but not the only data to be looked at. It seems that most of the poverty experienced in the Philippines is focused in the cities. Manila, the capital, is densely populated and devastatingly mired in slum poverty.

So educating children in large cities like Metro Manila should be a high priority. On January 20, the President of the Philippines signed into law the Republic Act No. 10157, or the Kindergarten Education Law, according to the Philstar.

The Kindergarten Education Law provides for free and compulsory kindergarten education starting in the 2012-2013 school year. Children must pass kindergarten under this act. The article states that through the new law, the Department of Education hopes to improve student performance and curb early dropout rates.

Otherwise, UNICEF’s statistics on primary school are hopeful: the primary school net enrollment rate in the Philippines was at 92 percent from 2007-2009.

Another promising stat: literacy rates among young adults (ages 15 to 24) remained at a high 97 percent for males and 98 percent for females between the years of 2005 and 2010.

Secondary school enrollment rates don’t look as good. They hovered between 55 and 66 percent from 2007-2010. And there is still a lot of room for improvement, many would argue, especially in the realm of higher education. According to an article by Bernama, a Malaysian news agency, World Bank leaders are calling for an improved higher education system in order to boost the Philippine economy. Employers are finding a significant gap in creativity, leadership and problem-solving skills in several Philippine industries, presumable because of this lack of higher education.

The article states that this can be helped by improving the university system in the Philippines, as well as with better allocation of funds to the schools. This is an issue I have researched before, in countries I’ve covered on this blog such as South Africa. There seems to be a widespread call for an improved higher education system.

For more info on the Kindergarten Education Law: http://www.chinapost.com.tw/business/asia/philippines/2012/03/02/333314/Philippine-govt.htm

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