Friday, November 26, 2010

Surprising results from a statistical analysis on PH education data

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Photo by Dean Lozarie of Tinig ng Plaridel (UPD-CMC)
Yesterday, University of the Philippines (UP) students protested against the P1.39 billion budget cut for 2011. That there is an actual budget cut is contested, but we must know that this is not happening in a vacuum. Worldwide, students are protesting budget cuts on education as austerity measure for governments to survive the global economic crisis. Italian students did the same recently.

For this purpose, I am posting with permission from my co-author, Ivan Eugenio, a non-parametric statistical study we made on Philippine education data submitted as a requirement for Statistics 130. It uses data culled and prepared by Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) on education, gathered from Commission on Higher Education, Department of Education, and other government agencies.

The study yielded suprising results. First is that there is no change in ratio of enrollees to graduates, and it remains significantly low by inspection. Second is that government appropriation of funds to secondary and tertiary schools are equal. And third, the laborer-job ratio is still close to ideal. But there are implications on these data, given the socio-economic conditions our education system is in.

Excerpts from Chalk Dust: A Discourse on the Status of the Philippine Education System

A Non-Parametric Statistical Study by Ivan Eugenio and James Miraflor

In any developing nation, one of the biggest components of the enabling environment for industrial growth and capital expansion is the general educational state of the people. The concept is not alien at all to the civilized world. In fact, most liberal democracies often allocate a huge amount of its budget for the education and training of its citizens.

The Philippines is not an exemption. A huge portion of the budget allocation goes to the education sector, especially in elementary and secondary public schools. It has been stipulated by the Philippine constitution that education should remain to be the country’s top priority. With such prioritization, one can only imagine the Philippine education sector as the most dynamic and developed sector in the country.

The quality of education in the Philippines, however, seems to prove otherwise. Despite having considerable figures for literacy rate and other benchmarks, the popular notion is that the functional literacy of the people still lags behind. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear comments, surveys, news, indexes and competition results showing that the Philippines is not doing well in aspects like training its citizens in mathematics, natural sciences or even in some technical skills.

Whether such claims of lack of quality in the Philippine Education Sector are true or not then just depend on a number of factors:

First factor is number of graduates produced by the educational institutions, primarily the tertiary level institutions that produce the workforce. If the input is considerably higher than the output, i.e. the number of graduates is higher than the enrollees; it just clearly shows that the drop-out rate is high.

Result 1: Using Spearman Rank Correlation Coefficient Test, which is a non-parametric test for association, we concluded that that there is no significant correlation between the year and the ratio of graduates and enrollees from 1994-1999. Thus, there is no significant decrease in the ratio even if our chart says so. This implies that during the five-year interval, there has been no significant change in proportion of the input of students to the tertiary education and the output of the tertiary education to the workforce. 

Second factor, is how the government distributes the resources allocated for education. The second factor is directly linked to the first one by saying that the deficiency of the tertiary education may have been caused by allocating more the scarce educational resources to the elementary and secondary education. The question here is where the government should allocate more now given the present socio-economic demands.

Result 2: Using Mann-Whitney non-parametric statistical test, we concluded that government allocation of funding is just equal for both Secondary and Tertiary schools, given the demand for both (given a dataset from 1965-1991). We can then say that the government, as composed on entities with political (electoral) goal is merely satisfying the interests of their constituents. This may imply, however, that the government has no clear plan on the whole educational system, given the lack of focus for either the Secondary and Tertiary school systems.

The third and most ambiguous factor is the relevance of education itself in the lives of the Filipino people. Given the quality and accessibility of education, and the availability of work afterwards, is it still necessary to send children to school? Here, what will be investigated is whether current government actions is mitigating the gap between the new jobs created and workers produced or not.

Result 3: Using Wilcoxon Signed-ranks Test (one-sample), we have concluded that from 1991-1995, the laborer-job ratio is still, or close to, the ideal 1.0. Thus, since people can still be accommodated in the labor-force, education will still be of use for the Filipino people. This is more important in the present, since we are moving from industrial-machinery-based work towards a knowledge-based one. Education will then facilitate the production of workers sophisticated and learned enough to thrive in this kind of environment.


We have successfully proven three things. First is that there is no change in ratio of enrollees to graduates, and it remains significantly low by inspection. Second is that government appropriation of funds to secondary and tertiary schools are equal. And third, the laborer-job ratio is still close to ideal.

What do these results imply? This means that industries are already close to saturated (with almost 1:1 ratio to demand and supply of jobs) and that the relative output of tertiary education is low and remains to be low. This presents us with a dilemma. If the tertiary institutions will have a better output rate (there will be an improvement in the ratio), the industries may not be able to absorb the new entrants.

A good solution to this is to increase the number of industries concurrently with an increase in funding in the tertiary sector. This may of course, reduce the allocation for the secondary education institutions, given the equal spending ration on secondary and tertiary. We do not want this, but if we are to focus more on the immediate problems of the economy, then the government should focus more on the available, ready-to-be-tapped, labor potential - and this means boosting tertiary education budget.

Full Paper

The full paper is available on Scribd:
Chalk Dust: A Discourse on the Status of the Philippine Education System

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