Many times, I have received queries about how a foreigner or foreigner/Filipino couple would educate their children if the took the big step of moving to the Philippines before waiting until the children were ‘up and out’ of the home and US schools.
First of all, let me give you a burst of philosophy and say, the right time to make the move (or the right time to decide to stay in the Philippine or move back to the States) is likely to be different for every family. There is no one size fits all answer, and you can’t just copy what some other couple did, you really should make your own decisions.
That being said, I think that if you are delaying a move you really want to take solely for the reason that you don’t think you can get a quality education for your children here, then you are probably delaying things for the wrong reason.
In my view, you can educate your children here at least as well as they can be educated in the US, and as a bonus, they will grow up more cosmopolitan and definitely more world-oriented than the typical US-only educated person of today. My belief is, this is an advantage to a child on a personal development level, and we can all see the way the wind is blowing … for the last 50 years the US was pretty much able to stand-alone, in the next 50 years this is not going to be the case at all … so children should, at the least, be “globalized” in their education and outlook.
Anyway, suppose you make the choice to move here with children of school age (and I mean from pre-K to college undergrads). Can they get a decent education in the Philippines.
My short answer is, yes, for sure. But a caveat (which I believe applies just as much in the US as it does here), the more interest and participation a parent takes in their child’s education, the better the results. In the US we still often see parents who really know nothing and care less about what their child is learning and progressing. “I pay taxes, dammit, let the schools worry about that”. Ask any US teacher how many parents show up at parent-teacher nights or similar events for example …
Here are some strategies you might think of. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I do not have much direct experience here, but these are all strategies with at least some validity, and they should at least stimulate some thought/discussion.
1. Leave the children back in the US with a relative/guardian:
- 0.1 1. Leave the children back in the US with a relative/guardian:
- 0.2 2. Send Children to a Resident School, in the US or Another Country:
- 0.3 3. Bring the Children to the Philippines and Enroll in Public School:
- 0.4 4. Bring the Children to the Philippines and Enroll in Private School:
- 0.5 5. Bring the Children to the Philippines and Enroll in International School:
- 0.6 6. Bring the Children to the Philippines and Home School Them:
- 0.7 7. Bring the Children to the Philippines and Enrol them in a US School via the Internet:
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Many might think this sounds crazy, but it’s been suggested and certainly could be done by some families. I’m against it for a number of reasons, not the least of which is we have way to many children in today’s world with absent or deceased parents, I think it’s cruel and tempts fate (easy enough for a kid to get in trouble even living in a normal home). I think it unfairly shields parents from their own responsibility too … but it’s a legal alternative.
2. Send Children to a Resident School, in the US or Another Country:
I’m against this one too, although there may well be some advantages. After all, institutions like Phillips Academy, The Kinkaid School, Punahou School, have produced US Presidents, so they can’t be all bad. Unfortunately. aside from the issues of children away from home and parents for long periods of time, private residential schools are often beyond the financial means of many parents.
3. Bring the Children to the Philippines and Enroll in Public School:
This one I don’t recommend. The Philippine public school system is a subject I shall leave pretty much for discussion at another time. The Spanish held the Filipinos in subjugation for nearly 400 years by restricting and denying education to the people who would “see things the conquerors’ way”.
If the US, during their time of occupation, ever did anything good, it was the immediate and wide-spread roll out of free public education to all.
(do a Google on Thomasites – hint, it isn’t a religion such as the name might suggest)
You can still find walking, talking evidence of the value of the US-founded school system today, in people of my in-law’s generation who actually started school before WWII, in little white school houses that flew both the Philippine and US flags.
Sadly, after full independence was granted in 1947, it is as if one of the first things the nascent country chose to throw away was the US-inspired school system. Seems as if Quezon, well-known for his wish for a Philippines “run like hell by Filipinos rather than run like heaven by Americans” certainly got his wish here,and then some.
Today it’s a morass of ancient, inadequate buildings, “lowest common denominator” teachers, greed, (teachers are paid starvation wages and are often required to “kick back” percentages of the already meager salary they do get to principals and other officials just for the privilege of being a teacher) and corruption from the local school to the highest levels, and a system which struggles mightily internally to even decide what language to teach. (My opinion only, of course, but I would avoid it like the plague).
4. Bring the Children to the Philippines and Enroll in Private School:
This is one of the most desireable choices, in my view. There are a number of free-standing private elementary through secondary schools that teach at a high-quality level with decent teachers. Some of the larger universities also run their own lower tier schools as well … the Ateneo University (Jesuit), the De la Salle (also Roman Catholic, founded by the Institute of the Christian Brothers or FSC).
There are many others. Costs on these are very moderate in contrast to US private school costs, but please contact schools you are interest in directly, I can’t answer specific questions about them.
5. Bring the Children to the Philippines and Enroll in International School:
The Philippines is also blessed with a number of private “International” schools that pride themselves on teaching to the standards of various countries such as the US, Great Britain, etc. The Brent International School, the British School Manila, I even found Australian-based school on a Google search … you can too. accredited International Schools tend to have very International prices. Expect to pay substantially more than the bill for Philippine-based private schools. Whether you “get what you pay for” is a question I can’t answer … each parent has to make those sort of decisions for themselves.
6. Bring the Children to the Philippines and Home School Them:
In this proposed strategy I am talking mainly of the traditional non-Inteenet’ form of home schooling, where the parents essential get packages of correspondence courses, administer them and send the results back to the school for grading and credit. It should be no surprise that this is going to be a rapidly fading strategy.
Online home schooling is such an important issue that I am going to dedicate a whole article to the subject. Notice that this is nothing directly Philippine-related. Today, many US parents have chosen to home school. It’s certainly the route I would take today if I were in the child-rearing business again.
I was very unhappy with many aspects of my now-grown children’s US public schools education, and I count myself a bit of a coward for not taking matters into my own hands when it mattered.
However, this is not exactly an easy decision. My friend Bob, who is both earning a living here and raising young children, had an interesting discussion on this issue a while back.
Bob’s viewpoint was that he and his wife might feel pressured to find the admittedly large commitments of time to do home schooling properly. They also felt the children might feel slighted by not having a ‘school’ to socialize in and graduate from. All are very good counterpoints to the home school solution.
It seems especially important to Filipino/Filipino-American students too, if the children might stay here in the Philippines to make their way in life. Bonds of school classmates are, to a person like me who hated his schooling, incredibly strong here in the Philippines.
Hardly a night goes by that Mita won’t point out someone on TV or in the newspaper as ‘the classmate of my sister’, or ‘batch mate of so-and-so.’ Indeed a lot of business and government appointments seem to be very heavily weighted by school relationships, so that is certainly another factor one must bear in mind.
7. Bring the Children to the Philippines and Enrol them in a US School via the Internet:
As I touched on in Strategy 6, this is possibly the best solution overall … or in concert with some aspects of the other solutions. It’s important enough and attractive enough to devote at least another whole article to … and with a little bit of luck that article is coming RSN (Real Soon Now).
So there you have it. Your homework for the day. At least seven different ways to get your children an education n the Philippines. I don’t feel I even have the expertise to tell you which one is right for you, but I feel this gives you some places to research that you may not have even bene aware of before … and that is about all a dropout like me can offer. 😉