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Thoughts on Private Elementary Schools (Davao, Cebu)


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rainymike

What a parent wants from an educational system varies. These represent my own perceptions of schools that I've sent the kids to in Cebu and Davao. It also represents how I've tried to adapt to realities here.

 

Private vs. Public: in general, I find private schools to offer a better environment. But the quality varies immensely from one private to the next. You have to do the ground work and sort it out. By better environment, I mean small class sizes, two teachers per class in the lowest grade levels, a somewhat more secure environment (guards), air conditioned classrooms, sometimes a small computer lab, and a small library.

 

However, with motivated parents and good teachers, I know families that have done well and are satisfied with the public schools. But again, there is considerable variation in quality.

 

Tuition: 20-30K pesos is the price range that fits me okay. Expect another 10K over the year for various fees, activities, etc.

 

Curriculum: this is where the rubber hits the road, and one has to deal with a number of compromises:

 

a. Faith based - most of the privates are faith based. So far no major complaints. The faith based stuff is decent for development of social behaviors (which in the early years is more important to me than debates over evolution). They call it character education at the current campus we're at. As long their is some degree of tolerance, I'm okay with the school.

 

b. Multiple-intelligence - many schools subscribe to the multiple intelligence point of view. And it is reflected in a curriculum and class activities that emphasize development of the child beyond academics. It includes music, dance, sports, scouting, etc. It is a little excessive for me, since parents are pulled into the activities and it seems that the kids spend a lot of time preparing for some kind of activity day. To compensate, we have used tutors and do our own tutoring in academic areas.

 

c. English and Tagalog - its tough learning both English and Tagalog when Visayan is the commonly used language. I actually think its good for the kids to do so, but the instruction (books, teachers) needs some supplemental instruction. Tutoring enters the picture again.

 

d. Social environment - one of the drawbacks of a private is the one-upsmanship that parents display. It's not bad that parents want to show off their kids. But it's a problem when uncontrolled. Class distinctions become very apparent at times. Our choice of school was for us to be somewhere in the middle. Not the richest, nor the poorest family. We did not select the top tier schools as a result. And avoid the publics as well. My rule of thumb - no more than a third of the parents walk around believing that their shit don't stink. (LOL ... at our current campus, school rules are strict and keep parents in line with even a dress code for parents - no high heels, navels, etc.)

 

e. Bullying - it's a problem here like in the states. We looked for a campus that was going to be strict about this. And they have thrown out at least one kid this year for bullying other kids.

 

f. Tutoring - hiring a tutor isn't so expensive for the elementary grades. We've paid as little as a thousand a month for help in doing assignments and review. I wasn't super impressed by the local tutors though. To supplement, I do a lot of drill and practice using flash cards for games and I do practice tests.

 

Just my thoughts. I could sit around bitching and moaning, but have found it more productive to try to manage the education of my children. And it's really not that excessive. There are shortcomings, but there are some advantages as well - to schools here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Good summary of your experience. Our children attend private schools in leyte. We have family members, several, who teach in public schools, so we have interesting observations and comparisons.

 

For some members, there may not be an option as to choice of schools. That does not make for a hopeless situation. Sometimes I wish we had used the public schools nearby when I have to deal with issues with the staff or facilities. However, by way of comparison, the general nature of education here is pretty dismal. The process is poorly managed by those charged with overseeing education here. If you read about education here, you will find all sorts of positive reports about how things are "getting better". In my view, nothing has changed in the past decades and is not likely to change much even with the K-12 system.

 

We do not feel that our children will suffer as a result of a poor education system. We just have to be more involved in the process than we might want. For example, right now my wife is helping our kids review for upcoming exams.

 

We don't use tutors since they are often worse than the teachers. Hard to know what they will do.

 

What has helped our teenager in high school is learning to manage her studies herself, in spite of the teachers inadequacies. I'll give a simple example of that. In high school, there are textbooks available for each subject. They are sold by one of the teachers. This teacher gets the benefit (profit) from selling the books. It has created some jealousy among the staff, so they do not use textbooks, thus depriving her of the income. Instead, the teachers use their own handouts and such for the curricula.

 

You might say that is a good thing, right? Well, these "handouts" are not really that. They are often just Wikipedia articles placed onto a USB thumb drive and handed to one of the students who then shares the drive among classmates. So, the teacher dumps the task onto the kids to get their own study materials.

 

For those of you who will suggest we should bring this to the attention of the head teacher consider this. The high school is a "laboratory" high school which means it is essentially provided for the families of the staff at the co-located university. The facilities as well as teachers are provided by the university. That means the teachers don't really work for the head teacher. They work for the university. As well, there is an incredible amount of nepotism among the staff, so if you complain, it is likely a husband, sister, cousin, parent you are complaining to.

 

So we have learned to use iPads and netbooks for source material as well as study guides etc. That does not always help though, as much of the learning here is by rote.

 

Some of the OP comments about the integrating of other activities we have also found to be okay, but do consume huge amounts of time in preparation. For example, there was a regional sporting event recently here and two weeks of academic time was halted while kids prepared themselves to compete in sports, some they had never played and will never again. This sort of stuff happens all the time. We have an annual "founders day" for the university which consumes a week shortly after the school year begins. That is followed the next month by another annual celebration of the elementary school, and the list goes on. On top of that, every grading period is followed by a one day "honors program" which includes various dances and musical performances. This involves about a week of preparation as well as costumes and the like.

 

Speaking of the "honors program"...... This is a topic of huge interest. Some families will go to extremes to assure their child is "top honors".

 

One more topic we experience like the OP is multiple languages problems. In our area, Visayan is the dialect and little Tagalog is spoken. More Waray is spoken than Tagalog. The idea of having kids learn in their "native language" sounds good on paper, but not in practice. Ironically, our children have often made the honor roll even while failing to pass the language tests.

 

The best advice I have for those who are deciding to choose between public and private is to try and see the facilities and get to know someone who teaches there. If you pay attention to some of the postings in this forum, you'll be better informed to make the decision which is better for you. A private school is not a better school just because it is "private".

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turbo black

mikeeW,

yes sir you are correct in your analysis.to add to your comments i have wittnessed first hand the corruption that goes on in the private schools.case in point.....

the director of the school asked me to judge an event that included singing,reading poetry and dancing.while i was judgeing one of the other judges said to me give me your paper and i will total up the scores.her son came in first place and i was amased at the outcome,he should have been last.no one even questioned why!

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Is 20-30K pesos typical tuition in Danao? In Cebu it is closer to 70K per year (Bright, CIE, Sacred Hear, St. Teresa, etc.).

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turbo black

from my experience it is around 14,000 in the province and the international school in cebu city is 80,000/per year

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rainymike

In response to some questions.

 

1. Yeah, private tutors can be very bad. The worst are those who simply do the assignment for the kids. Of course, the kids get good grades on the assignment, but haven't learned anything. I don't like this kind of tutoring, but it is popular. Probably overworked parents might be content with anything to have their kids progress in school.

 

It is much harder to find a tutor who spends time trying to teach a child to learn and not just complete the homework assignment. But there are a few teachers who are looking for some extra cash and might do some tutoring after school or on weekends. Just have to shop around. Quality does vary considerably.

 

2. Cost of privates vary considerably. Start at around 15K and go to 80K+. Again you have to decide for yourself what it is that you want. More does not always mean better. And in addition to academics, I am also concerned about the social environment the kids are in. It is not necessary (for me) to find an equivalent to an American school or curriculum. But I am concerned about certain basics like language, math, sciences.

 

3. I don't do full blown home schooling. I've found the basic curriculum to be decent. However, implementation of the curriculum may be lacking. Supplemental instruction helps beef up the basic curriculum. I really don't have the time or ability to go about creating brand new curricula. Supplemental instruction includes purchasing additional workbooks to help, making practice quizzes and exams, drill and practice with flashcards, paying attention to what the kids are learning and their performance, and I like to ask questions over dinner, etc.

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