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Some Imperatives of ICT Integration in the Philippine Educational System: Towards Modernization and Relevance

in a Highly Globalized Economy


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




The Philippines is bent to modernize its basic education system geared towards the requirements of a knowledge-intensive economy. Along with this effort is the continuous curricular change through ICT integration in the classroom. The paper illustrates some forms of teaching innovation and pedagogical approaches and a few important policy imperatives in the integration of ICT in the Philippines school curriculum.


I. Introduction


The Philippine government has 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, 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 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.


For the last five-years, the country had performed well in maintaining a high average school participation rate of 95 percent at the elementary level and 64 percent at the secondary level. Public elementary schools comprise about 90 percent of the total school enrolment. Public secondary schools enrolment, on the other hand, accounts around 70 percent of the national enrolment. While access to education has significantly improved for the last five years, the quality of basic education persists to be in question as learning competency indicators paint a disturbing picture for the Philippines’ bid to produce highly skilled labor force that will spell a big difference in a globally competitive - knowledge economy. For instance, in the 2004 National Achievement Test given by the Department of Education (DepEd), nearly 98 percent of the examinees failed to get the passing score of 75 percent. In the High School Readiness Test, only 64 percent got a grade of 75 percent or higher. Furthermore, from 1996 to 2004 results of the International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), the country has a consistent poor performance whose rank is very close to the bottom.


The country’s Department of Education has initiated in 1996 a computerization program with the goal of preparing Filipino students for employment and competitive career 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 also would 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 seems, and certainly there are broader prerequisites of achieving classroom technological advancement. This paper explores some 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 some forms of innovation, pedagogical strategies and curricular initiatives to constantly steer the educational system towards excellence and global standards. Section two discusses the significance of ICT in a knowledge-based economy. The third section presents an overview of basic education in the Philippines. Thereafter, the next section describes a few efforts towards ICT integration in the Philippine basic education. Section five illustrates some important policy imperatives of integrating ICT in the school curriculum. The last section concludes.


II. ICT and the Knowledge-Based Economy


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 modernization, 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 seminal works of Romer (1990) and Solow (1956) on endogenous growth theory bring to the fore the importance of technological progress and the quality and amount of knowledge embedded on it. As new knowledge is created through innovation, research and development, highly industrialized economies have indeed widened their lead towards the path of knowledge-intensive economic development and modernization.


In a knowledge economy, the generation and creation of knowledge forms the basis of wealth and national income. The production and distribution of goods and services has dramatically shifted to the production, distribution and use of knowledge and information. In the description provided by Abrenica (2001), in developed economies, “output, employment and investments are growing fastest in high-technology industries such as computers, electronics, pharmaceuticals and aerospace, as well as in knowledge-intensive sectors such as education, communication and information.”  In these countries, the path towards knowledge-intensive economy is simple: massive spending and investment in intellectual or human capital. The human capital embodied on the workforce of the economy is in the form of new knowledge, skills and training acquired through a high quality education starting from the basic form up to the most advance level. Knowledge economy, according to OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 1996), depicts four types of knowledge generated.  As classified by Abrenica (2001), these are (1) know-what, which embodies the factual knowledge; (2) know-why, as illustrated on the scientific knowledge that underpins various technological development; (3) know-how, as seen on the skills or capability to carry out certain tasks; (4) know-who, which is described as the information achieved from social relationships.


III. ICT Integration in the School Curriculum


As one examines their educational system, these highly industrialized and knowledge-based economies have dramatically restructured their learning systems and reoriented their educational paradigm towards the paramount goals of excellence and economic relevance. The integration of information and communication technology (ICT) has become paramount feature of their educational curricula, school activities and programs. For instance, in OECD - 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 2001a).


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” ( 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 (  On the other hand, Thornburg (1999) as cited by Tinio (2002) emphasizes the crucial importance of these ICTs in developing three foundational skills of the learners. These, he said “are (1) how to find information; (2) how to determine if what is found is relevant to the task at hand; and (3) how to determine if the relevant information is accurate.”


The OECD book “Learning to Change: ICT in Schools” (2001b) describes the “pervasive use of ICT in schools to be motivating” and succinctly justifies the economic, social and pedagogical implication and rationale for ICT integration in the classroom as presented in table 1.


IV. Overview of the Philippine Basic Education

Basic education in the Philippines covers three main programs: elementary, secondary and non-formal. Non-formal program is the government’s means to ensure “Education for All” (EFA) policy. This provides for the training needs of the out-of-school youths and adults, 15 year-old and above. The formal education starts from six-year elementary and four-year secondary education program. Some private schools offer eight year elementary school. A Filipino child starts to go to school at the age of six when he enters grade 1. However, this school year 2005-2006, DepED has encouraged parents to let their children enroll in the pre-school program.  Pre-school education unlike elementary education is not free and not


Table 1.  The rationale for ICT integration in schools


for ICT



“…focus is on the perceived needs of the economy – present and future – and the requirements in many areas of employment to have personnel with ICT skills. Knowledge and familiarity of ICT is an important aspect of employability as the 21st century unfolds. There is a widespread expectation on the global scale that those nations successfully embracing the information age will benefit economically. Awareness of this dimension will encourage learners to acquire such skills, and some to take ICT as an additional optional subject leading to vocational specialism, including the study of computer science in further or higher education.”


“…focuses on facility with ICT becoming a prerequisite for social participation in society and the workplace. Competence with ICT is seen as an essential “life skills” in the same way as literacy and numeracy, so much so that the range of skills and the process supported by ICT is brought together in the notion of digital literacy, which becomes both a requirement and a right for all learners.  It is therefore important to find ways to compensate those with limited access to computers outside school. Societies will suffer if some of their members have little or no facility with ICT, especially since public and other services are increasingly becoming available on-line. As usage of ICT becomes more extensive across society, wider benefits will also flow – better links with home and scholl, greater parental involvement in student progress, and greater scope for schools and other educational institutions to play and inter-active part in community life and development.”


“…concentrates on ICT teaching and learning. The potential for this has developed rapidly and dramatically with advances in ICT, from the early “drill and practice” program, and limited use in a small number of subjects. ICT can increase the breadth and richness of learning, not least through the topicality and realism that the new resources can bring. It can support the development of higher order thinking skills, including analysis and synthesis.”

         Source:  OECD (2001). “Learning to Change: ICT in Schools”


compulsory. Although most public schools offer pre-school classes parents have to pay minimal amount to cover the teacher’s salary, teaching materials and text and workbooks of the pupils. Private pre-school program is much more expensive.

There are six learning areas in the elementary level: English, Filipino, Mathematics, Science and Health and Makabayan.  Makabayan, a Filipino term which literally means nationalistic, encompasses three learning areas: (1) History, Geography, Civics and Culture, (2) Music, Arts and Physical Education, (3) Home Economics and Livelihood Education. Team teaching and collaboration is highly encouraged in Makabayan. Integration of three learning areas is done whenever possible.Values education this school year 2005-2006 was again offered as a separate learning area.

All subjects in the primary grade levels (Grade I to IV) are generally handled by one teacher. Grade I and II classes have the following subject areas: English, Filipino, Math and Makabayan (Civics and Culture). Science is integrated in the English subject. Grade III classes learn the following subject areas: English, Filipino, Mathematics, Science and Health and Makabayan.  Likewise, Grades IV, V and VI classes have the same mix of subjects; however, Makabayan is an integration of Philippine History, Philippine Geography, Civics and Culture; Music Arts and Physical Education; and Home Economics and Livelihood Education. 

On the other hand, secondary education is free but not compulsory. While the government provides one complete elementary school in every barangay (remote village or rural area), there is at least one public high school in every municipality offering a general secondary curriculum. General secondary curriculum, one and the most common of the curricular offering of the secondary schools in the Philippines, is a continuation of the elementary education program but is designed both as preparation for college work. Science high schools, science and technology high schools, and high schools for the arts are among the other curricular offerings of the secondary school education program in the Philippines.

Basic subjects in secondary schools are Makabayan, Filipino, English with focus on Asian, British-American and world literature;  Mathematics includes Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Statistics and Trigonometry; Science and Technology which focus on General Science in first year, Biology in second year, Chemistry in third year and Physics in fourth year. Makabayan as subject area in secondary level encompasses Physical Education, Health and Music, Values Education, Social Studies and Technology and Home Economics (THE). THE  provides practical work and experiences in home economics, industrial arts, agriculture and fishery, and entrepreneurship. Computer literacy is only a sub-component entrepreneurship.


V. Some Efforts and Policy Imperatives


The 2002 Revised Basic Education Curriculum (RBEC) is a curricular change instituted by the Philippine government through the Department of Education (DepEd) which recognizes that ICT skills are of paramount importance in alleviating poverty and in achieving competitive advantage in the global economic arena. Among its salient features is the inclusion of basic learning competencies in computer skills in both elementary and secondary education. Its proponents emphasizes that “…(W)e have to educate our Filipino learners to filter information critically, seek credible sources of knowledge, and use data and facts creatively so that they can survive, overcome poverty, raise their personal and national esteem, and realize a gracious life in our risky new world.” The learning competencies were categorized in the subject area of “Home Economics and Livelihood Education (HELE)” in the elementary curriculum and in the “Technology and Home Economics (THE)” in the secondary curriculum. However, although basic computer education is being taught as a separate unit or module in the HELE area, bulk of ICT lessons is not laid in a unifying and coherent educational framework.  ICT integration, particularly in the public schools, focuses mainly as tool for learning and not as an independent subject area. Lessons in computer literacy are only limited with basic operations and hand-on experience, such as knowledge of the computer parts, function of the keyboard, basic word processing and file management.


Although skills in ICT are specifically taught in the separate subject areas of HELE and THE, only a few of the schools were able to incorporate ICT across all subject areas. These success stories served as models of ICT integration in the classroom and were featured in their presentation during the “First ICT in Basic Education National Congress,” held in Cebu City, Philippines on 6-7 December 2004 which this writer had the opportunity to participate. The sets of presentation were published in the website of the educational project dubbed as Pilipinas SchoolNet (


One success story cited was that of Mandaluyong Elementary School in Metro Manila. In the last four years, pupils and teachers have been learning from and learning with Knowledge Channel. The pupils show positive learning from Knowledge Channel programs, which are explicitly produced and used for instructional purposes. The effective use of educational television in this case is due to the fact that it is intentionally designed for education and teachers are involved in topic and module selection, utilization and integration into the curriculum. Knowledge Channel programs are received via cable and are intended for use at specific times. School organizers composed of Grade V pupils helped in planning and scheduling all programs as there are only two televisions sets available in this school. The scheduling and ease of access of the programs are the biggest factors promoting classroom use. Seminars and lesson demonstrations on the integration of educational television in the classroom focus on how teachers can best use television to enhance academic achievement. To make viewing more effective, teachers discuss the previewing questions as suggested in the teacher's guides and manual to stimulate the interest of the pupils and reinforce their learning objectives. While viewing, teachers can call attention to and highlight the important concepts. After viewing teachers are advised to use quizzes to ensure that students understand the program ( www.pilipinasschool,


In the secondary level, the set of ICT lessons is relatively far more broad and deeper than in the elementary level. It is in this stage where students are taught of the various software program applications such that of MS Word, Excel, and Power point. Integration occurs in the form of collaborative projects conceived by the subject teachers. One example of integration was done in the subject “Civics and Culture” as presented by Bais City High School in Negros Oriental. With the use of a WebQuest, an inquiry-based learning activity, the second year students gathered information from the internet, interviewed local experts, and observed and participated in the local festival called Sipong sa Bais, in order to create a website promoting this local festival. Cooperative learning was developed through the grouping of students and assignment of complementary roles. The researchers in each group gathered data about the history of sipong, the actual practice, and the dances. They interviewed local experts, as well as guests of the town during the festival. The photographer in each group took pictures. The final student output was a webpage of the festival. The WebQuest results show that appropriate use of computers and the internet had been an important tool in achieving both subject and information literacy objectives by providing students with exposure to and practice with diverse resources, making them active learners (


The example set by teachers and students of P.Guevarra Memorial High School in Laguna was also notable. ICT basic skills can be seen as they integrated concepts and approaches in Statistics, Information Technology and Social Studies. Students were divided into groups of five. Each group was required to research on a problem commonly experienced by students. The groups identified their problems with the help of the guidance counselor who introduced the "Problem Wall" to enhance the awareness of the students of the problems affecting them. Each group then constructed a questionnaire and administered it to their chosen group of respondents. They collected the data, presented it in tabular and graphical form, and computed for frequency and other descriptive statistics using MS Excel. The final group results were presented by the students in the form of a newsletter and website (


These few instances of ICT integration in the classroom set the tone for an important policy imperative to increase the budgetary allocation for the educational sector. The education sector in the Philippines is receiving on the average less than three percent (3%) of gross national product, a relatively low percentage as compared to that of other countries allocation for education. With this as the greatest constraint, the education sector is faced with the challenge in keeping at pace with the past moving trend of technology and information revolution around the world. A typical Filipino school does not have access to computers and the internet. In most cases like those cited above computers are available but supplies for maintenance and operation is inadequate to maximize the use of ICT. For example, the lack of printers and other computer peripherals hamper most teachers and students to not fully derive the benefits of ICT diffusion. Students do not appreciate computers to the fullest when it is not connected to the internet. Moreover, these examples of limited “connectedness” are not assurance of an effective ICT education. Teachers have to really learn to collaborate with each in order to meaningfully integrate ICT across all subject areas. The RBEC has set the legal basis for collaborative and team teaching giving a greater emphasis on richer integration of all subjects through thematic teaching. However, most teachers, who play a central role in the teaching-learning equation, are still not convinced to fully integrate ICT in the classroom particularly because of the fear – the “technophobia” in using hi-tech educational gadgets. Some are afraid to step out of their “comfort zone.”  There are still a greater number of them who are not familiarized or reoriented with the system of collaborative and team teaching; some others, on the other hand, are unwilling to work with teachers from other fields or subjects.


The above observation further strengthens the studies conducted by Rodrigo (2001) and Tinio (2002). The former reveals that high school teachers, students and school administrators in Metro Manila are constrained to utilize ICT in achieving the desired educational competencies through active and independent learning. She averred that the schools do not have the “necessary hardware, software and connectivity to pursue the achievement of these goals. As a result, their ICT resources are not being tapped in a way that is consistent with their professed goals” ( One major factor that compounds this problem is the high student-to-computer and student-to-peripheral ratios. Moreover, she opined that the use of ICT is only limited during 'computer classes' where the subject matter to be taught is computer-related. Thus, any learning outcomes from ICT use would be computer-related as well “instead of towards broad, generic skills such as problem solving, independent and collaborative learning, and communication” (


The latter, on the other hand, enumerated the barriers why ICT utilization in the teaching-learning process is very limited or not fully maximized, as seen in table 2. The study reveals that: “(L)ack of enough computers is the single biggest obstacle according to the respondents, with a mean ranking of 2.35. All other issues have mean rankings considerably lower than this. Lack of enough technical support for operating and maintaining ICT resources (4.29) and the lack of teacher training opportunities (4.63) are considered barriers to change as well. So too are the lack of space for computers (5.01) and the general lack of funds for operations (5.03), including maintenance of equipment, purchase of supplies, and electricity.”


With the recent flagship program of the Department of Education, these areas of concerns can be hopefully addressed. For instance, the program called “Schools First Initiative (SFI)” puts the school at the center of the whole educational system and not just as mere extension of the Department. This program is aimed at involving all the stakeholders of education in a locality to take part in the management and improvement of schools in their respective areas. In one consultation- conference attended by this writer, the current secretary of education through a dialogue with some political leaders found out that there are a number of town heads who are not aware of the educational status of the schools in their jurisdiction. It was to their surprise


Table 2. Mean rankings of what respondents consider to be major obstacles to the use of ICT

for teaching and learning in their schools

Insufficient number of computers


Not enough technical assistance for operating and maintaining computers and/or insufficient help for solving technical problems with ICT


Not enough training opportunities for teachers


Not enough space to locate computers appropriately


Lack of funds


Insufficient peripherals (printers, scanners, etc.)


Teachers lack knowledge/skills in using computers/the Internet for instructional purposes


Not enough staff for supervising computer-/Internet-using students


No time in teachers’ schedules to explore opportunities for using computers/Internet


Not enough copies of software for educational use


Insufficient time for teachers to prepare lessons in which computers/ the Internet are used


Weak infrastructure (telecommunications, electricity, etc.)


Problems in scheduling enough computer/Internet time for different classes


Lack of interest/willingness of teachers to use computers/ the Internet


Inadequate administrative support or initiative at the school/division/regional level


Insufficient plans and/or resources to prevent theft and vandalism of computers



Absence of or outdated school network/LAN


Difficulty integrating computers/ the Internet in classroom instruction practices



Not enough types (variety) of software



Lack of knowledge on what hardware/software to buy



Imported educational software not compatible with DepEd curriculum



Lack of skills/knowledge of students in handling computers



Insufficient number of teachers



Indifference of parents



Software too complicated for teachers and/or students to use



Teachers feel uncomfortable because some students are more competent with ICT than they are



Source:  Tinio (2002) “Survey of Information & Communication Technology Utilization in Philippine Public High Schools. Also available at


to find out how low the achievement level of their students considering that some of them are in classified as first class municipalities. This opened the eyes of one of the important stakeholders of education. They in turn expressed interest in improving their school and thus will hopefully give way to allocation of support to the school. For instance, solutions to problem on maintenance and operating expenses such as ink and continuous supply of electricity can be addressed by shouldering bulk of the expenses. Others suggested that alumni members who are already successful in their respective career or profession can donate some amount to defray monthly electric bills or in purchasing the much needed computer peripherals.


The foregoing casts another policy imperative for an effective ICT integration in the classroom: the sustained partnership, consultation and constant dialogue between the schools, the community and its stakeholders such as parent associations, the alumni, town officials and non-governmental or people’s organizations. As OECD (2001) had remarked along this vein: “The most effective learning environment is one based on the dynamic partnership between home and school, formal and informal, teacher and taught. This underscores the seriousness of the situation of the students who have inadequate home facilities, who are on the wrong side of the digital divide.”  For instance, the Pilipinas SchoolNet cited above could serve as a model initiative for cooperative linkage and collaboration between the private sector and the government. Under the “memorandum of understanding” signed between two active non-government organizations, the Foundation for Information Technology Education (FIT-ED) and Ayala Foundation, this ICT educational project was established on July 2001 with top officials of the Department of Education serving as witnesses.  The vision of the program is “to build a network of schools throughout the Philippines that will leverage the internet and related technologies to improve learning and to better prepare the Filipino youth for the demands of the knowledge economy. In fulfilling this vision, the Pilipinas SchoolNet is committed to addressing the digital divide within the country-between those who have access to the Internet and those who do not-by providing effective and sustainable solutions to the problem of Internet connectivity” ( Another dynamic partnership that can be seen is through the efforts of Department of Education, in collaboration with non-government organizations such as the broadcast-media network company ABS-CBN, the Knowledge Channel, e-TV Foundation. The cooperation initiated a project where a number of schools were equipped with TV sets, educational materials in the form of VHS, CDs and DVDs and free cable access. Curriculum-based educational lessons and materials were also demonstrated and shown in the Knowledge Channel programs that compliment the teaching learning process in the classroom. The shows also cover almost all of the lessons and topics covered in the subject areas of basic education. Knowledge Channel also provided free television cable services of 41,450 public schools nationwide that are within reach of cable operators. They also provided wireless technology (satellite dishes and receivers) to remote areas unreachable by cable lines. Knowledge Channel Foundation Inc. has established a partnership with cable providers nationwide to carry Knowledge Channel and furnish the necessary cable infrastructure to reachable schools (


The presentation above also offers some implications for policy such as the continuous professional development and training of teachers who play crucial role in the delivery of ICT instruction and its integration in various subject areas. “Without adequate investment in teacher professional development and enhanced professional activities, effective technology integration into schools cannot succeed” warn OECD (2001) experts. New learning styles and pedagogical approaches must be developed and instilled in the training programs to be conducted.


VI. Concluding Remarks


In general, basic education in the Philippines is still faced with the difficulty in fully harnessing the potentials of digital literacy and ICT diffusion. Success stories abound such as those presented above but these are limited to those with ample access to digital infrastructure and ICT-open minded teachers and administrators with the help of the private sector and other education stakeholders.  However, the government, being the lead sector, should realize that without a unifying policy framework in integrating ICT in the basic education, the Filipino student will always be lagging behind the global standards for digital literacy and will always be at the losing end of the digital divide. Although the government has set forth some policy change such as the implementation of the RBEC, this only appears to be cosmetic and at the very least, a lip service.  The policy framework should be coherent and consistent with the over-all development agenda in equipping the economy towards the requirements of a knowledge and information- intensive society. In addition to the provision of adequate infrastructure and fiscal allocation, this demands a more radical change of the basic education curriculum where ICT and digital literacy becomes the basic component and a separate subject area. The current curriculum, although revised in order to incorporate ICT skills, still leans on traditional approaches where, as described by OECD (2001b) the “dominant curricular and organizational patterns…were not designed for the Internet Age and often inhibits its effective use. ICT offers some gains for traditional curriculum delivery, but its full educational potential cannot be realized without the radical changes in schools structures and methodologies.” A more radical curricular reform should be learner-centered and skill-based with a “clearly articulated and measurable curricular/pedagogical goals and objectives” (Tinio, 2002).




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