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Republic of the Philippines


Vila de Bacolor, Pampanga



(Illiteracy in the Philippines)


Cunanan, Precious Gweneth M.

David, Myrrhiel Marie L.

Dellupac, Yohan T.

Naluz, Ciarita Ainah T.

Pineda, Carlos Louis P.

A.Y. 2019-2020
I. Introduction

Filipinos aspire for work-life balance; a comfortable, secure, and peaceful

life. The Philippines, however, is currently facing a lot of social and economic
issues. These include the high rate of destroyed resources due to natural
calamities, decreased GDP rate, and population increase. These are some of the
issues that prevent our country from becoming completely developed. The Asian
Development Bank (ABD) slashed its growth estimate for Philippines again,
factoring in trade tensions that have the delayed passage of 2019 budget and
global trade tensions that have taken their toll on domestic activity.

A way to resolve the aforementioned issues is by achieving sustainable

development in the country. The concept of sustainable development was
described by the 1987 Bruntland Commission Report as “development that meets
the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to
meet their own needs.” Having said that, sustainable development is something
that is not easily achieved, and reaching that point has its own share of obstacles
to overcome, including poverty and consumerism. On September 25, 2015, at the
United Nations General Assembly in New York, the Philippines adopted the 2030
Sustainable Development Agenda, which aims to achieve sustainable
development by reaching 17 goals, which the resolution of 17 problems, one of
those problem being the availability of “Quality Education”, which addresses one
of the less discussed problems the Philippines is facing, illiteracy.

In general terms, illiteracy is an inability to use language. It is an inability to

read, write, listen, and speak. Today, it is usually taken to mean being unable to
read and write at a level adequate for written communication or at a level that will
allow an individual to function at certain levels of society. It inhibits people from
communicating efficiently with one another.

In 2013, the population of the Philippines was well around 98.48 million
people, and of that number, 96.5% were literate, which means that remaining
3.5%, or 3.4 million people, were in fact, illiterate, which poses a problem towards
of realization of sustainable development.

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II. Case/Problem

According to the Education for All Global Monitoring Report of UNESCO in

2006, literacy, in all its understandings and definitions, is the ability to read and
write text. At UNESCO’s General Conference in 1976, they defined functional
literacy as such: ‘A person is functionally literate who can engage in all those
activities in which literacy is required for effective functioning of his (or her) group
of community and also for enabling him (or her) to continue to use reading, writing
and calculation for his (or her) own and the community’s development. Stemming
from this definition, illiteracy is the opposite of this; the lack of skill in reading and
writing text. It can also be defined as the inability of an individual to participate in
activities requiring literacy and being unable to use reading, writing and calculation
to further the development of their community.

“It is through literacy that one is empowered to interact in his community

and realizes his worth, what he can do and eventually make him do thing that
contribute in sustainable development of his society,” said Department of
Education’s (DepEd) Literacy coordinating Council OIC Dina Ocampo in speech
during the 2014 National Literacy Conference Awards. Literacy is essential in
building one’s character and not having it may result to complications and/or other

Illiteracy in individuals stems from different causes, generally inter-related

ones which, together, create a series of often insurmountable walls for those
concerned. It affects everything and it causes a vicious cycle that can’t be broken
easily. With how deeply connected each cause is to one another, if you wished to
eradicate illiteracy, dealing with each problem one by one would be ineffective,
and it would be more efficient to deal with all of the problems simultaneously.

Parental involvement actually plays a large role in having literacy. This

involvement does not only enhance academic performance, it also has a positive
influence on student when it comes to attitude and behavior but one can’t teach if
he/she himself is affected by illiteracy. Having illiterate parents also discourages
the children from becoming literate and getting an education, because children

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often imitate and even idolize their parents, causing them to view being literate as
something of little value, and not put effort into being literate as a result. If the
family disregards education as a key factor in financial success, it becomes very
likely that future generations of the family will adopt the same mindset.

The prevalence of literature and books in a person’s life is also a factor in

their pursuit of literacy. Both the lack of availability and quality of materials can be
barriers to quality education because in order for an individual to begin learning
several materials are required as the bare minimum that will allow us to absorb
and understand what is being studied, these materials being educational and
reference books and writing materials.

In many cases, an individual being and remaining illiterate is not by choice,

but something caused by circumstance. Some of these circumstances relate to
where a family is living in and its distance from educational facilities, such as
libraries and schools, and the ability of the family to avail of the services these
facilities provide. Poverty means not having enough money for basic needs such
as food, drinking water, shelter, or medicines which means it is a state of an
individual being unable to provide for their own and their family’s basic needs. This
common problem prevents people from being able to study and educate
themselves, which in turn causes illiteracy then unemployment. There is a direct
correlation between poverty and illiteracy. They can be both the cause and effect
of each other.

Overpopulation is a condition wherein the population number of living

human beings exceeds the capacity of a certain nation or the Earth itself. This
causes poverty that leads to another problem which is illiteracy, it is a vicious cycle
that affects the lives of people who’s suffering from it and can even affect the next
generation. It causes less productivity on students because of the lack of facilities
intended for learning. Many schools do not have enough classrooms to
accommodate every student they enroll, leading to students having to take classes
in a very cramped and hot room, which can increase stress and cause lapses in
focus for the students. According to a study by Mark Schneider, Ph.D., the state of

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a classroom, its temperature, and its level of noise not only affects a student’s
efficient performance, but that of the teacher’s as well. Additionally, having many
students in one class makes it much more difficult for the teacher to maintain
discipline and watch over the progress and growth of each student. The high
number of students enrolled in schools also lead to a shortage of skilled teachers
available. All of these problems contribute to the propagation of illiteracy in the
country, as all of this makes it more difficult for students to complete school or
simply get education.

It primarily affects the country in some aspects including its economy. In

2018, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority, 656 out of 2,323 people were
unemployed due to being functionally illiterate. Unemployment is defined by the
Bureau of Labor Statistics as people who do not have a job, have actively looked
for work in the past four weeks, and are currently available for work. One of its
causes in the country is the lack of education.

According to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the

minimum employable age in Philippines is 15 to 18 years old.

Illiteracy also has its impact on health. According to the Washington Post,
illiterate individuals have more workplace accidents, take longer to recover and
more often misuse medication through ignorance of health care resources
because they have trouble understanding the relevant information such as
warnings, dosage, contraindications, etc...

Alberta Education defines literacy as the ability, confidence and willingness

to engage with language to acquire, construct and communicate meaning in all
aspects of daily living. Therefore, lack of the aforementioned may lead to emotional
distress and/or other mental issues. A person once interviewed from a
documentary of GMA news can be considered as an example. The individual in
question admits that their life was made even harsher because they were illiterate.
“I was often insulted. People laughed at me because I couldn’t read or write.” the
involved person stated. Lack of literacy sometimes affects self-esteem and
people’s view on life.

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Another problem that arises from being illiterate is that, because of the fact
they are illiterate, the majority of these people do not or have difficulty
understanding the laws and rules that define the way of life in the place they live
in. A person who cannot read struggles to know their rights, to vote, to find work,
to pay bills and to secure housing. This makes it much harder for them to find a
way to become a valuable part of the society they live in and avoid being a
detriment to it instead, as they end up having a limited understanding of what is
allowed, legal, and possible for them to do. “Illiteracy impacts an individual’s
opportunities to fully participate in a democratic society,” says Leigh A. Hall,
professor and Excellence Endowed Chair in Literacy Education at the University
of Wyoming. “It doesn’t just have a negative effect on that person’s life, but on the
overall health and well-being of our country.” In 2018, the majority of the illiterate
voters became an issue in the Philippine Government. This serves as definitive
proof that the issue affects both the individuals and their society. Illiteracy results
to people’s difficulty in understanding societal issues which lowers the level of
community involvement and civic participation.

As has been stated before, illiteracy does not only affect the individual but
the society as well in some angles. The difficulty mentioned before leads to some
negative effects on the society.

Another negative effect on both the individuals and the society is the
increased local crime rates. Illiterate people are more likely to resort to criminal
activity. In 1995, Daniel Karpowitz and Max Kenner reported in their research
paper “Education as Crime Prevention” that inside their (USA) prisons, 19% of
adult inmates are illiterate, and up to 60% are functionally illiterate. The
Department of Justice (DOJ) states, “The link between academic failure and
delinquency, violence, and crime is wielded to reading failure.” In 2018, the Bureau
of Corrections (BuCor) have tallied inmates from both Calabarzon (Region IV-A)
and Mimaropa (Region IV-B). Tallies have proven that 31% of the Bilibid convicts
were only able to attend classes in elementary but failed to graduate. The inability
to read and write well may not be a direct cause of criminal behavior, but illiteracy

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and crime are related. People with low literacy skills usually have equally
inadequate problem-solving skills.

Several effects of the said problem have been discussed expect for one
which of poverty. In 2017, DOLE reported that over 4 million Filipino youths were
neither currently going to school nor holding down a job. Poverty is considered to
be one of the most severe effects of illiteracy and vice versa, and it is widely
accepted that poverty and illiteracy caused by lack of education are a cycle, where
they are each other’s cause and effect. Poverty stands as the main result of
illiteracy, and it is also the major cause of the prevalence of illiterate people. In a
paper prepared by the National Statistical Coordination Board Secretary General
Jose Ramon Albert , they stated that, in 2009, among 20 poor persons, 19 of them
belonged to households where the head of breadwinner have either minimal or
inadequate education for someone relied on to provide for the family. This survey
proves a direct correlation between an individual or family’s education, or lack
thereof, with their income and living conditions. Not having completed proper
education is considered being functionally illiterate, and for the people living under
these circumstances, it is difficult to find a stable a well-earning job that provides
them with enough income to be considered not in poverty. If they cannot read,
write, and understand basic instructions and rules, the range of choices for
employment become severely narrow.

Illiteracy also has a hand in causing overpopulation. Being well educated

about sex and family planning helps people make more rational decisions when it
comes to those matters. According to surveys done in sub-Saharan Africa, there
is a relationship between a woman’s education and her fertility rate. Generally, the
higher the level of education a woman has attained, the less likely it is for them to
bear large amounts of children. This is attributed to them learning more about
methods of preventing pregnancy which reduces the risk of unplanned
pregnancies, a generally lower desired family size by educated women, and the
delay in marriage caused by commitment to the completion of one’s education. In
the Philippines, people in poverty are commonplace, and they are most likely

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illiterate as well. These people generally have more children and bigger families
than those who are above the poverty line. This is because they do not have
adequate knowledge on the purpose of contraceptives and cannot understand the
effects they may have and how to use them. In many cases, the poor people
involved admit to not knowing how women become pregnant, and that such
contraceptives that can prevent it exist. According to the Philippines National
Demographic and Health Survey 2017, there are 47 live births every 1000 girls
aged 15-19. Many of the girls who gave birth to children say that curiosity about
sex coupled with limited knowledge of the subject resulted to their pregnancy. As
can be seen by all of these scenarios, lack of education, more specifically, sex
education is the cause for so many cases that result in the country’s

III. Policies




Section 1. Republic Act No. 7165 IS hereby amended as follows:

"SECTION l. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the State to give the

highest priority to the adoption of measures for the universalization of literacy.

"Toward this end, it shall encourage and rationalize the formulation of

policies and the implementation of programs on non-formal, informal, and
indigenous learning systems, as well as self-learning, independent, and out-of-
school study programs particularly those that respond to community needs.

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"The State shall institutionalize an interagency coordinating and advisory
body to synchronize and strengthen policies and efforts toward the universalization
of literacy."

"SEC. 2. To carry out the declared national policy, there is hereby created
a Literacy Coordinating Council, hereinafter referred to as the Council, which shall
be an inter-agency body administratively attached to the Department of

"SEC. 4. The duly designated representatives to the Literacy Coordinating

Council shall be afforded equal opportunity to vote and participate in any
deliberation during meetings of the Council.

"Likewise, they shall be afforded, whenever necessary, reimbursement of

any actual expenses incurred during council-related functions and duties, subject
to the provisions of existing law and/or pertinent rules and regulations."

Sec. 2. All laws, executive orders, presidential decrees, and other issuances
or parts thereof Inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or
modified accordingly.




Section 1. It is the policy of the State to give the highest priority to the
adoption of measures for the total eradication of illiteracy. For this purpose, it shall
encourage and nationalize the formulation of policies and the implementation of
programs on non-formal, informal, and indigenous learning systems, as well as
self-learning, independent, and out-of-school study programs particularly those
that respond to community needs.

Sec. 2. To carry out the declared national policy, there is hereby created a
Literacy Coordinating Council, hereinafter referred to as the Council, which shall

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be an inter-agency body administratively attached to the Department of Education,
Culture and Sports.




Sec. 1. Short Title. - This Act shall be known as the "Governance of Basic
Education Act of 2001."

Sec. 2. Declaration of Policy. - It is hereby declared the policy of the State

to protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality basic education and to
make such education accessible to all by providing all Filipino children a free and
compulsory education in the elementary level and free education in the high school
level. Such education shall also include alternative learning systems for out-of-
school youth and adult learners. It shall be the goal of basic education to provide
them with the skills, knowledge and values they need to become caring, self-
reliant, productive and patriotic citizens.

The school shall be the heart of the formal education system. It is where
children learn. Schools shall have a single aim of providing the best possible basic
education for all learners.

Governance of basic education shall begin at the national level it is at the

regions, divisions, schools and learning centers herein referred to as the field
offices - where the policy and principle for the governance of basic education shall
be translated into programs, projects and services developed, adapted and offered
to fit local needs.

The State shall encourage local initiatives for improving the quality of basic
education. The State shall ensure that the values, needs and aspirations of a
school community are reflected in the program of education for the children, out-

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of-school youth and adult learners. Schools and learning centers shall be
empowered to make decisions on what is best for the learners they serve.

Sec. 6. Governance. - The Department of Education, Culture and Sports

shall henceforth be called the Department of Education. It shall be vested with
authority, accountability and responsibility for ensuring access to, promoting equity
in, and improving the quality of basic education.


Section 1. Title. This Act shall be known as the "Free Public Secondary
Education Act of 1988."

Sec. 2. Declaration of Policy. It is the policy of the State to provide for a free
public secondary education to all qualified citizens and to promote quality
education at all levels.

Sec. 5. Formulation of a Secondary Education Curriculum. The Department

of Education, Culture and Sports shall formulate a secondary education curriculum
in order to upgrade its quality, efficiency and access. In addition to providing the
high school students with general skills, knowledge and values, such a curriculum
must include vocational and technical courses that will give the students gainful

Sec. 10. Funding. The President is hereby authorized to realign or transfer

any item of appropriation within the Department of Education, Culture and Sports
and/or utilize any savings therein to carry out the purposes of this Act. Whatever
additional amount as may be needed for its implementation shall be included in
the General Appropriations Acts for the ensuing fiscal years.

IV. Proposed Solutions

The subject matter is one of sustainable development's challenges and its

effects have the potential to lead the economy to its downfall. Having this solved
means eradicating its causes and issues concerning lack of literacy. Is it possible

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to perform the process amidst other economic issues?
The researchers have come up with solutions concerning illiteracy. One of them is
dealing with the parents' inability to provide for their children. Children also have
rights including the right to health, education, adequate standard of living, to be
protected from abuse and harm, etc. Having said that, it is the parents' utmost
responsibility to give their children an access to these rights. The researchers
propose that the government should provide occupation from natural resources
such as agricultural jobs to parents who are functionally illiterate. Jobs involving
agriculture include fishing and farming. In this way, parents can earn money to
provide for their children's education.

Another way to solve illiteracy is by requiring each education student to

teach or at least help illiterate people, especially adults, familiarize reading and
writing in their curriculum. It is advisable to teach illiterate adults because it allows
them and makes it to share their acquired knowledge to their own and other’s
children. Not only will illiterate people benefit from this process, but so will
education students as well, because through teaching these people they will gain
experience by taking on this challenge. The teaching will help them polish and
hone their skill as aspiring teachers. Offering grants, subsidies, and scholarships
can also reduce the financial burden that parents and students bear in paying for
education. It would make it possible for students to learn without interrupting their
education due to lack money to pay for school fees. Parents would also channel
the money that would have been used to pay for school fees towards other income
generating projects. The cost of financing education can prove to be too high
especially for those who live in poverty.

Overpopulation is one of the main causes of illiteracy. Considering that, one

of the researchers' goal is to find a way to resolve it. They suggest that the
government should implement the two-child policy to below-average families. In
that way, it is easier for parents to sustain their children's needs. And one of the
basic needs is sending their child to school. The government should provide

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seminars per barangay so that the parents in each will have a better understanding
regarding these matters.

Illiteracy should not exist today, but it still does due to different
circumstances. There are always pros and cons that can be overcome by helping
one another and supporting government projects. An answer to issues like this is
societal cooperation. People should take the initiative in order to achieve
sustainable development for these solutions will not be efficient without the help of
everyone in the nation who is capable of doing so.

V. Conclusion

Illiteracy is a problem that a few million people in the Philippines struggle

with which is the lack of skill in regards to reading and writing. Less than 5% of the
population are illiterate, but it has an array of effects on the state of the country
which makes it something that cannot be overlooked. It plagues those who are
ignorant and less fortunate, as illiterate people either simply do not make an effort
to become more aware and learn due to beliefs and experience, or are unable to
avail of services and the material needed to become literate due to financial
problems and other circumstances like location and there being no nearby or
available facilities. It is part of a rather difficult cycle of problems to overcome,
which makes the topic of resolving it not very clear, and complicated As it is one
of the main causes for some of the other major national problems, such as poverty
and overpopulation, the government has taken many steps to counteract, and
eventually, eradicate it. Despite this, however, progress on reducing the amount
of illiterate people is slow, as the government has to address the related problems
at the same time, which hinders the realization of one of their goals for the future
in Sustainable Development, which is Education for All. Slow progress is still
progress, however, and the solutions to illiteracy can only be permanent or long-
lasting, as we learn and create better, more efficient, and more accessible ways to
acquire information and cultivate skills in the people of this country.

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VI. References

Melissa Luz Lopez (2019). ADB scales down PH growth forecast again.
Retrieved from on
July 18, 2019.

Sustainable Development. Retrieved from
on July18, 2019.

Len Cristobal (2015) Literacy in the Philippines: The Stories Behind the
Numbers. Retrieved from
daily/2015/08/06/literacy-in-the-philippines-the-stories-behind-the-numbers on
July 18, 2019.

Unemployed Persons by Sex, Age Group and Highest Grade Completed,

Philippines: 2016 - July 2018. Retrieved from
statistics/statistical-tables on July 18, 2019.

Laws on Child and Young Workers. Retrieved from
child-and-young-workers.html on July 19, 2019.
Valerie Strauss (2016) Hiding in plain sight: The adult literacy crisis.
Retrieved from
crisis/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.08470bfd7204 on July 19, 2019.
Jennifer Gunn (2018) The Lifelong Impact of Illiteracy. Retrieved from on
July 19, 2019.
Bea Cupin (2018) Majority of voters illiterate,' need education on Cha-Cha –
Panelo. Retrieved from
duterte-sona-2019-philippines on July 20, 2019.

Hans J.A.Dekkers The Crime Risk of Illiteracy. Retrieved from on July 20, 2019.

Literacy fast facts. Retrieved from on July 20, 2019.

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Rambo Talabong (2018) IN NUMBERS: The inmates of New Bilibid Prison
Retrieved from
prison-bucor-inmates-figures on July 21, 2019.

Causes of Illiteracy Retrieved from on July 21,

Elina Pradhan (2015) Female Education and Childbearing: A Closer Look at

the Data Retrieved from
kTwFd0Rwd5IVW9Kes3ydPeuzHX_0L8KNYa9Ox8NBwfv2JT2EKMktA on July
21, 2019.

Fritzie Rodqiguez (2015) Kids having kids: When choice is not an option
Retrieved from
early-pregnancy-philippines on July 22, 2019.

Education in the Philippines Retrieved from
BO0b0oilPJtZ6VAPuGb7LFWVhk on July 22, 2019.

Overpopulation Retrieved from https://www.conserve-energy-
H-hVKQxUeKJVxaxXOwY on July 23, 2019.

Chan Robles (n.d.).Governance of Basic Education Act of 2001. Retrieved

from on July
23, 2019.
Chan Robles (n.d.).Free Public Secondary Education Act of 1988. Retrieved
on July 24, 2019.
Chan Robles (n.d.). REPUBLIC ACT NO. 10122. Retrieved from
on July 24, 2019.
Chan Robles (n.d.). REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7165. Retrieved from on July 24,

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