Education in the Philippines During the American Rule

During the United States colonial period of the Philippines (1898-1946), the United States government was in charge of providing education in the Philippines.

Public system of education
Education became a very important issue for the United States colonial government, since it allowed it to spread their cultural values, particularly the English language, to the Filipino people. Instruction in English language, and American history, lead to forming of a national identity and Filipino nationalism.

Every child from age 7 was required to register in schools located in their own town or province. The students were given free school materials. There were three levels of education during the American period. The "elementary" level consisted of four primary years and 3 intermediate years. The "secondary" or high school level consisted of four years; and the third was the "college" or tertiary level. Religion was not part of the curriculum of the schools. as it had been during the Spanish period.

In some cases those students who excelled academically were sent to the U.S. to continue their studies and to become experts in their desired fields or professions. They were called "scholars", and "pensionados" because the government covered all their expenses. In return, they were to teach or work in government offices after they finished their studies. Some examples of these successful Filipino scholars were Judge José Abad Santos, Francisco Benitez, Dr. Honoria Sison and Francisco Delgado.

Many elementary and secondary schools from the Spanish era were recycled and new ones were opened in cities and provinces, among which there were normal, vocational, agricultural, and business schools. Among the most important colleges during United States rule were: Philippine Normal School in 1901 ( Philippine Normal University) and other normal schools throughout the country such as Silliman University (1901), Central Philippine University (1905), Negros Oriental High School (1902),St. Paul University Dumaguete (1904), Cebu Normal School (1915) also a university at present, Filamer Christian University (1904), Iloilo Normal School in 1902 (now West Visayas State University) and Zamboanga Normal School in 1904 (now Western Mindanao State University) ; National University (1901); University of Manila (1914); Philippine Women's University (1919); and Far Eastern University (1933). Examples of vocational schools are: the Philippine Nautical School, Philippine School of Arts and Trades (1901, now Technological University of the Philippines) and the Central Luzon Agriculture School. The University of the Philippines was also founded in 1908.

Schools were also built in remote areas like Sulu, Mindanao, and the Mountain Provinces, where attention was given to vocational and health practice.

Volunteer American soldiers became the first teachers of the Filipinos. Part of their mission was to build classrooms in every place where they were assigned. The American soldiers stopped teaching only when a group of teachers from the U.S. came to the Philippines in June 1901. They came aboard the ship "Sheridan." In August 1901, 600 teachers called Thomasites arrived. Their name derived from the ship they traveled on, the USS Thomas.
The original batch of Thomasites was composed by 365 males and 165 females, who sailed from United States on July 23, 1901. The U.S. government spent about $105,000 for the expedition. More American teachers followed the Thomasites in 1902, making a total of about 1,074 stationed in the Philippines.

Monroe Commission on Philippine Education

The Monroe Commission on Philippine Education was created in 1925 with the aim of reporting on the effectiveness of the education in the Philippines during the period of U.S. annexation. It was headed by Paul Monroe, who at the time was the Director of the International Institute of Teachers College, Columbia University, and it was composed by a total of 23 education professionals, mostly from the U.S. and some from the Philippines. During 1925 the Commission visited schools all throughout the Philippines, interviewing a total of 32,000 pupils and 1,077 teachers. The commission found that in the 24 years since the U.S. education system had been established, 530,000 Filipinos had completed elementary school, 160,000 intermediate school, and 15,500 high school.

The Commission declared that although Filipino students were on the same level as their American counterparts in subjects like Math or Science, they lagged far behind in English-language related subjects. George Counts, a Yale professor and a member of the Commission wrote on 1925 in The Elementary School Journal that "Half of the children were outside the reach of schools. Pupil performance was generally low in subjects that relied on English, although the achievement in Math and Science was at par with the average performance of American school children..." Counts also described the Filipino children of the 1920s as handicapped because not only were they trying to learn new concepts in a foreign language but they were also being forced to do so from the point of view of a different culture, due to the fact that they were using materials originally designed for pupils in the United States.

The report also informed that teacher training was inadequate and that 82 per cent of the pupils did not go beyond grade 4. Many of the problems identified were attributed to the attempt to impose an English-based education system in just one generation, concluding that "Upon leaving school, more than 99% of Filipinos will not speak English in their homes. Possibly, only 10% to 15% of the next generation will be able to use this language in their occupations. In fact, it will only be the government employees, and the professionals, who might make use of English."

Other recommendations of the Commission asking for a "curtailment of the type of industrial work found on schools" and the elimination of the General Sales Department that had been set up to distribute the sale of items made in schools, pushed the implementation of several changes in the educational system to try to prioritize on the instruction of the pupils to be taught over the teaching of "industrial" education that until then had been focusing on the production of handicrafts such as basketry for boys and embroidery for girls, farming techniques, and other skills deemed favorable for the future of the pupils.