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Children’s learning environment in Bohol

By: Wu Biqi, Olivia

Absence of books

Every time I travel, I always go to the local bookstore. From the books they are selling to the way the books are placed, I can get to know about the locals’ interests as well as attitudes towards life. However, after staying in Bohol for three weeks, I still fail to spot any bookstore here. At the same time, I have never seen kids in my homestay reading or doing homework at home.

Out of curiosity, I finally raised the question in my heart. Turns out that textbooks are not used in local schools’ teaching, and students do not have any homework after class. During the teaching process, each teacher has a copy of the textbook while the students need to copy the contents of the book by hand. Much copying has made many children have a hand on their hands. The children here do not have any access to books, which is probably one of the reasons why they spend so much time on TV, social media, and mobile games.

In fact, even if there is a lack of books, as long as there are learning spirits, children can still obtain e-books or online learning materials through mobile phone or computers. However, I have noticed that almost no one in the local area will spend time reading. As we all know, reading can broaden one’s horizon and improve one’s capabilities, which is the best way for personal and even nation-state progress. The lack of books in the lives of children makes me worried. How can these children get out of poverty without the help of books?

The education system in Bohol

The education system in the Philippines has been highly influenced by the colonial history of the country. That history includes periods of rule and occupation of Spain, the United States, and Japan. The most important and lasting contribution came during America’s occupation of the country, which began in 1898. It was during that time that English was introduced as the primary language of instruction and a public education system was first established – a system modeled on the United Nations.

In Bohol, basic education typically spans 12 years and is structured in a 6+4+2 system: six years in primary school, four years in junior high school, and two years in senior high school, the next step of which is the university for bachelor’s degree. Education is offered by public and private schools. Though the tuition fee for private school is much more expensive than the public one, most parents still tend to send their kids to private school. Even the family struggling for basic needs, for example, my host family, they still try their best to support their children to learn in private school.

School-age children are required to receive primary education and can enjoy free public-school education. However, there are still some children from extremely low-income families do not even go to elementary school because their parents need a hand. For families with a relatively better living condition, they prefer the higher teaching quality and more completed courses offered by private schools.

The management of public schools is relatively loose. Some female students are married at a young age; some of them are even pregnant at 11 years old. The atmosphere of learning is not active in public schools. However, private schools have comprehensive regulations, which are strictly enforced. Most courses are delivered in English, and the curriculum system is well-designed. From language to science and art, students are able to receive an all-round education.

Dream of children

“What do you want to do when you grow up?” When this question was asked, A girl told me that she wanted to be a nurse while her friend wanted to be a teacher. I asked again, “What would you do if you have a million pesos?” The answer from the girl who often said, ‘I hope I am a millionaire’ was beyond my expectations. She said she would go to fast food, give half of her money to her mother with diabetes so that she can go to the hospital for treatment, repair the damaged roof at home, and then distribute the rest of the money to those in need. The girl who dreams of having a spacious and luxurious house and buying many goods in the supermarket every day shows the selflessness and love of the extraordinary people when she considers this question seriously.

Most of the children here have curiosities towards new things. They can feel the joys and sorrows of others. They are compassionate and always willing to offer help to others. If they can get the right guidance, they will have a bright future.

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