In 1987, Spanish was dropped as an official language and is today only spoken by a small minority of Filipinos.
At the secondary level, problems were omnipresent as well: the net enrollment rate in secondary education, for example, had by 2005 dropped down to 58.5 percent, after increasing from 55.4 percent to around 66 percent between 19.
Tellingly perhaps, the country’s youth literacy rate, while still being high by regional standards, fell from 96.6 percent in 1990 to 95.1 percent in 2003, making the Philippines the only country in South-East Asia with declining youth literacy rates.
Education spending as a percentage of overall government expenditures, meanwhile, declined from 18.2 percent in 1998 to 12.4 percent in 2005.
Between 20 alone, average annual spending per public elementary and secondary school student fell from PHP 9,500 (USD $182.7) to PHP 8,700 (USD $167.3) in real terms.
Heavy military fighting in 2017 triggered the imposition of martial law in the Mindanao region, with President Duterte publicly contemplating the extension martial law to other parts of the country – an announcement that raised the specter of a further erosion of civil liberties in the Philippines.
Duterte’s “war on drugs” and his authoritarian ambitions are not without detractors – the Catholic Church of the Philippines, for instance, has condemned the extrajudicial killings.
Over the past two years, however, news from the Philippines was mostly dominated by extralegal killings, after populist President Rodrigo Duterte, elected in 2016, unleashed a brutal “war on drugs” that has described as the “worst human rights crisis since the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos”.
In a quest to eradicate the sale and use of drugs, more than 12,000 people, including many innocent victims, have been gunned down by the country’s police, armed forces and vigilantes without any form of legal process.
To address these shortcomings, the Philippine government initiated structural changes in the basic education system and significantly boosted education expenditures.
Crucially, the “Kindergarten Education Act”, passed in 2011, enacted a mandatory pre-elementary year of Kindergarten education, while the “2013 Basic Education Act”, extended the elementary and secondary education cycle from 10 to 12 years.