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Philippine Educational System: Historical Perspective

The present educational system of the Philippines is the result of a long process of  educational evolution.


A.     Pre-Spanish Period


During the pre-Spanish period, education was informal. It means that there was no overruling agency that governs the educational system.


        The child is taught at home by the parents or by some tribal tutor.

        The practice of  apprenticeship, whereby a person usually learns some occupational skill from his parents or sent to somebody as an apprentice who knows a certain job [say, a blacksmith]

        Institutionalized education in the form of initiation rites and religious ceremonies. The priest called sonats provided a specialized training for would-be priest.  


     We can safely assume that subjects of instruction that is being taught inside the house deals with tribal rules/codes, instructions of faith [paganism, animism], basic counting system [I believe that there should be since early Filipinos [or should we say Indio] were already exchanging trades with neighboring Asian countries], and basic literacy [the Alibata, our local alphabet system and local language].     


B.  Spanish period


During the Spanish period, education became organized.  A major educational reform was affected that gives a complete educational system for Filipinos.  


The Early Part of the Spanish Regime


        Schools were set up for the upper social classes founded by Spaniards for the Spanish youth.

        Filipino boys and girls attended parochial schools.                      


The curriculum was predominantly religious. The children learned Christian doctrine, sacred songs and music, and prayers required for the sacraments of confession and communion. The 3 R’s were given to brighter students. 


Other subjects includes (after 1863), the 3 R’s, history, Christian doctrine, the Spanish language, vocal music, and agriculture for boys and needlework for girls


Educational Decree of  1863


        A law that gave Filipinos a complete system of education from elementary to collegiate level. 

          Provided for the establishment of elementary schools, one for boys and one for girls, in all municipalities of the country     

        Attendance in school were compulsory between the ages of seven and twelve


Secondary education was given at Colegio de San Juan de Letran, Ateneo Municipal de Manila and in seminaries.

Collegiate instruction was provided by the University of Santo Tomas.




Act No. 74           

The Americans established for the Filipinos a system of free public education.

In line with this goals, the US sent a group of professionally trained American priest teachers, the Thomasites. 


Act No. 372 

required all provinces to maintain a provincial high school.


Schools established during this period


1901            Philippine Normal School

1908            University of the Philippines


Constitutional Convention in 1935, Article XIV Section 5


A mandate that “….the government shall establish and maintain a complete and adequate system of public education and shall provide at least free public primary instructions and citizenship training to adult citizens.”


It was during this period that the Filipinos came to adopt the American system of education as it was today. The Philippine government established and maintained the elementary, secondary, and tertiary levels of education, the operations of which was either by the government, or private persons or corporations. ( Please refer to our discussion of the present system of Philippine education above.)


Education aimed at training Filipinos in the democratic way of life, citizenship, moral character, fundamentals of vocational education and trained for self-government.


The Educational Act of 1940  Grade VII was eliminated.



D.  The Japanese Regime


Military Order No. 2, 1942         

embodies the Japanese educational policies.


The teaching of Tagalog, Philippine History, and Character Education was reserved for Filipinos. Love for work and dignity was emphasized.



E.   The Educational System under the Martial Law Period


Presidential commission to Survey Philippine Education (PCSPE)


It was created by the President (F. Marcos) to study our educational system at that time which came up with policy and program recommendations based on their findings.


Proclamation 1081, September 21, 1972


It started an educational reform based on the findings of PCSPE. It was premised on the framework that education should be an integrated system as provided for in Section 8, Sub-section 1 of Article XI acronym, PLEDGES, which meant, peace and order, land reform, economic development, development of moral values through educational reform, government reorganization, employment and manpower development and social services.


The ten (10) regular bureaus and institutes of the Ministry


  1. Higher Education                            
  2. Secondary Education       
  3. Elementary Education      
  4. Continuing Education          
  5. Sports and Development        
  6. Institute of National
  7. National Library
  8. National Museum
  9. Historical Institute
  10. Technical Vocational Education

There was a reorganization of the Department of Education and Culture, some offices were abolished or integrated with other offices, new ones were also created.


All Rights Reserved.
Copyright 2005. MOS
Date Created: May 07, 2005
Last Update: July 10, 2006