Philippines: education for tourists

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri Jul 6 01:03:51 UTC 2007

Education for tourists


The Philippine Star

For the past few years, the Philippines has been a favorite destination of
Korean students seeking to improve their English proficiency. Special
English language schools have been set up in recent years to meet this
growing demand. Now the government has announced that it will promote the
country as an "education tourism" destination. The government is encouraged
by reports that students from India and China are arriving as well to enroll
in Philippine schools.

If the government is serious in achieving its goal, it should improve the
quality of Philippine education to attract more foreign students. Not too
long ago, the country was a top destination for foreign students seeking not
just English proficiency but quality education in all subjects. Foreign
students went to Los BaƱos to earn a degree in agriculture. Philippine
schools excelled in almost all disciplines, and the quality of education
showed in the skills of the country's workforce.

All this changed as the nation became complacent and education particularly
in public schools was neglected. The country has lost its edge in all
disciplines. If foreign students are coming here in droves to improve their
English proficiency, one major reason is not the high quality of education
but the lower tuition rates compared to those in countries such as
Singaporewhere English is also widely spoken.

The government should improve the quality of education at all levels not
just for foreign visitors but for all Filipinos. In recent years the
government has scrambled to reverse the deterioration in the quality of
education especially in public schools. Efforts are also being made to
improve Filipinos' proficiency not just in English but also in the
Tagalog-based national language. So far, progress has been slow; it will
take years before the toll of decades of neglect can be fully reversed. As
the government promotes education tourism, it should apply as much energy in
improving the quality of education for all Filipinos.


Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at

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