Moving from one place to another is not an easy thing to do. One must try to adopt a new way of living in order to relate to the new place they have moved to. One of the hardest things people may experience after moving is getting accustomed to a new system of education. Each country has a different system of education, and as far as I have experienced, University here in Canada is a lot more challenging and nerve-racking in comparison to my experiences in the Philippines.
When you finish your secondary education in the Philippines, students must complete the “College Entrance Examination,” which assesses the intelligence of students who want to get admitted into a certain University. If one should pass this test, he/she would have to register for a certain course or faculty that he/she wishes to gain entry into, and then only after this will his/her first year of university begin. That’s how easy it is to get into a University faculty in the Philippines. The quality of education in the Philippines is really a matter of perception because the country is still considered a part of the third world where individual status and prestige can overcome actual intelligence.
I believe that in Philippine schools, status or prestige biases instructors to treat each student differently. Unfortunately, some instructors practice favouritism among students. Often times I have noticed that teachers not only memorize the names of certain students, but they also get to know their family background as well. If you are rich, famous, a child of a known official or celebrity, you might get different treatment in comparison to other “ordinary” students. In addition, if you are “good looking,” it would be easy for you to get a better grade and the instructor would give you as much help as they could for you to pass their course.
In terms of teaching strategies, instructors in the Philippines teach everything to the students. I have learned in Canada this teaching technique is called “spoon feeding.” Some students have never learned to study independently and always wait for their instructors to give them the things that they need to know and memorize. I feel that in this situation, students who learn this way may gain less knowledge, but nonetheless have more chances at passing the course. In terms of the grading system, I find it is much easier to get a higher mark and pass the course in the Philippines. Students follow a grading scheme that divides their overall mark in terms of assignments, class participation, quizzes and exams. Therefore, if you do not do well in tests, you may not fail the course because there are still other areas wherein one can work to improve in order to boost their overall mark.
In Canada, after finishing high school, students get to apply to a University and once an admission letter is received, he/she will enter straight into University One. At this stage, all first year students are encouraged to take general courses that will give them the opportunity to take time to think about which field of study they wish to pursue. As soon as one decides which faculty he/she would like to enter, he/she would have to check the pre-requisite courses that are needed to enter as well as the minimum grade that is expected. I have found that most faculties here in Canada are competitive, in which there are only a limited number of students who can be accepted. Also, some instructors do not care if you attend or skip class, or even take the time to know who you are. They are only there to teach, and as a result some may never try to get to know your name. I feel that in this way, all students are treated equally without bias.
In terms of Canadian teaching strategies, instructors only highlight the chapters found in course texts and it is up to the students on how they will summarize and understand the whole lesson. Therefore, students learn to be more independent and responsible for their own studies. Lastly, I have found that the grading system here is much simpler, final marks consist mostly of tests and some quizzes. Also, final exams usually range from 40 to 60 percent of the entire grade. So, if you get high marks on your previous tests, there is no assurance that you will pass the entire course.
In my experiences as a student in both the Philippines and in Canada, the differing education systems, styles of teaching and grading reflect how students are expected to learn. These systems are presented only to further enhance the knowledge and capabilities of the student. However, I feel that from what I have encountered so far, how one may get along in school can reflect how they will get along in life. Looks, celebrity, family name may work towards a student’s favour in the Philippines, but this is less likely in Canada. Nonetheless, education is a guide in shaping the student’s future, but we should also keep in mind that a successful future is still in our own hands.
Keith Fernandez immigrated to Canada from the Philippines in 2006. He recently graduated from Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute and is now a student at the University of Manitoba. He is a recent member of ANAK and a former member of the University of Winnipeg Filipino Students’ Association. Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org