Author’s note: A few years into K to 12, with the first batch of Grade 11 students, educational television (ETV) has yet to make a comeback to reflect the new educational system reality. With change finally here, perhaps the Department of Education under Secretary Leonor Briones can invest on these types of shows. It would be interesting to watch shows teaching math or science using the mother tongues of the different regions.
This unedited piece was originally submitted as a position paper for the English 10 (College English) course under Professor Maria Lorena Santos, Second Semester AY 2011-2, University of the Philippines Diliman.
Do the names Kuya Bodjie, Pong Pagong and Kiko Matsing ring a bell? How about the line “Bawat bata may tanong. Ba’t ganito, ba’t gano’n?” As the Internet meme goes, “If you remember these, your childhood was awesome.” For those who cannot recall or are unfamiliar with these, the first three are characters from Batibot, “the Philippines’ answer to the widely popular children’s program Sesame Street” (“Tayo na sa Batibot”) and as such was geared towards “[addressing] all aspects of early childhood growth and development” (Philippine Children’s). Meanwhile, the line above was taken from the theme song of Sine’skwela, which focused on elementary science and technology concepts and applications. It was one of the shows produced by the ABS-CBN Foundation using “curriculum-based scripts…under deep scrutiny of the Department of Education [or DepEd]” along with Math-tinik, Hirayamanawari and Bayani (“When Stars Help”).
These shows are just a few examples of children’s television. According to the Children’s Television Act Of 1997, children’s television refers to programs and other materials broadcast on television that are specifically designed for viewing by Filipino children, all persons below eighteen years old. These programs often serve educational purposes, which according to Senate Bill No. 1443, filed by Senator Loren Legarda and currently pending in the committee level, include the following:
1) Give positive influence on entertainment;
2) Promote social values;
3) Mobilize community support to, and wage information campaigns directed at parents to promote the importance of basic education;
4) Improve the image of technical education and skills training and to inculcate the necessary values needed for productive employment;
5) Propagate culture, foster patriotism and nationalism and other values that serve as an instrument in the struggle for Filipino sovereignty, identity, national unity and integration. (Children’s Television)
Synonymous terms to children’s television with educational purposes include “education-oriented children’s television”, “educational programs”, “educational shows” and “educational television” or ETV.
Education-oriented children’s television, however, has suffered a decline in the past decade. Laurence Andrade, in his undergraduate thesis, interviewed several persons involved in the production of such shows. “[They] all agreed that there is a significant decline in children’s programming, particularly those with educational content, as compared to its condition ten to fifteen years ago” (Andrade 30). Foreign anime and cartoons, which are cheaper to import, now form a large part of children’s programming with only weekends allotted for locally-produced educational shows. The problem is not “with quality but on quantity” (Andrade 47).
Andrade’s study cited several reasons that have contributed to this decline. For example, sponsors prefer entertainment programs over education-oriented children’s television. “The writers and program managers explained that advertisers do not look at children viewers as an important market for their products” (Andrade 30). The government does not also see the value of tapping television in advancing children’s education. Mag Hatol Cruz, secretary-general of the Anak TV Foundation, lamented that his organization has been appealing in vain for support:
First, they tried to convince the government to formulate implementing rules and regulation for [the National Council for Children’s Television or] NCCT to be able to serve its purpose. [He] also shared that they appealed to be given programming slots to even just one government station. (Andrade 39)
Despite the rising popularity of social media and the Internet, television is still the most popular media platform in the Philippines according to the 2010 Nielsen Audience Measurement report (“Filipinos Still Glued”). Furthermore, in 2006, two to twelve year olds spent the most time watching television, with 3.7 hours a day (AGB Nielsen Media Research). Yet, the government does not realize this. It must therefore be made aware of the power of using television in order to promote the education of Filipino children.
Consequentially, the present Aquino administration needs to forge partnerships with local television networks and producers in order to facilitate a revival of educational television. This comes at a crucial time, as the DepEd is keen on pushing through with the K+12 educational system. In a span of four years starting this June, a transition period will take place, with the addition of two years of senior high school to the current 10-year cycle. During this period, students are allowed to specialize in either of the following: science and technology, music and arts, agriculture and fisheries, sports, business and entrepreneurship (Hernando-Malipot) as well as technical and vocational education under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Crisostomo). Thus, instructional materials need to be updated in order to address this and other changes in the curriculum.
In addition, educational programs improve students’ academic performances. A thesis by Miriam College students in 1995 involved grade three and six pupils of Project 6 Elementary School in Quezon City, which were divided into two groups, with one group exposed to Sine’skwela. Over the course of the study, four five-point evaluation exams were given to both groups and the scores were compared. The researchers found out that “There was a significant difference between the acquisition of learning between the experimental group [those exposed to Sine’skwela] and control group [those who were not]. There was [also] a significant relationship between the exposure of the experimental group and the control group” (Aranas, et al.). In other words, Sine’skwela was an effective instructional material for science and technology.
Similarly, children’s television with educational purposes also has a positive effect on teachers. Leo Larkin, who studied its feasibility in Greater Manila during the 1960s, believes that ETV “[frees] teachers [from] extra class preparation [in order to perform] further duties such as guidance counseling, teaching special groups of slow learners or gifted students, or taking extra-curricular activities” (qtd. in “Practicability of Educational Television”). Additionally, a thesis by Katherine Balite in 1999 surveyed 112 Math teachers from various public and private elementary schools in Metro Manila, “99 percent of [whom] have positive opinion[s] on the program [Math-tinik]” (qtd. in Andrade 10).
Educational shows also maintain a certain teaching standard. According to Wilbur Schramm, in his book “The Impact of Educational Television: Selected Studies from the Research Sponsored by the National Educational Television and Radio Center [of the United States]”, “[Such shows] can supply the best teaching demonstrations. [Their] self-instructional materials can conduct lessons professionally, and [they] can give the student the freedom to work at his own desired pace. Television can display an event or activity that would otherwise be spoiled for direct observation. This is especially true for Science classes, which deal with many fragile specimens” (Schramm 5 qtd. in “Practicability of Educational Television”).
A crucial problem with education-oriented children’s television is that prolonged television viewing weakens the left hemisphere of the brain, which controls language and speech functions. According to Kate Moody, “The eye and brain functions employed in TV viewing are likely to put demands on different parts of the brain than those used in reading, causing incalculably different kinds of cognitive development” (67). Neil Postman wrote in his “Teaching as a Conserving Activity” that fast-moving, concrete and discontinuous television imagery requires emotional responses, and not conceptual or logical processes. For Postman, “the TV curriculum poses a serious challenge, not merely to school performance, but civilization itself.” Thus, solely relying on television as a medium of instruction is disadvantageous. Its use must be balanced with other learning experiences and materials so that students get a full understanding of the lessons taught in class.
Critics may also argue that it is impractical to produce local educational shows since they would only rehash the content of their foreign counterparts, and that it would be cheaper to import these instead. On the other hand, Filipino children may have a hard time grasping Western concepts and values and applying them in the Philippine setting. Only home-grown programs can provide elements that are close to home.
In a nutshell, a resurgence of children’s television with educational purposes can only take place through the participation of all stakeholders involved, the most imperative of which is the partnership of the government and local television networks. (Experts from different fields of study such as the sciences, languages and history should also be consulted. Quantity should not be at the expense of quality.) The benefits of educational programs outweigh its shortcomings. Truly, ETV is the plus factor in K+12.
AGB Nielsen Media Research. “Luzonians Are TV Addicts, AGB Nielsen Media Research Study Reveals.” Nielsen Television Audience Measurement. 15 Nov. 2006. Web. 4 Mar. 2012.
Andrade, Laurence Joy. “Sine’skwe…Wala Na?: A Descriptive Study On The Decline Of Children’s Educational Programs On Free Television.” Diss. U of the Philippines Diliman, 2010. Print.
Aranas, Juliet, Ann Margaret Dumlao, Ma. Luisa Madamba, Estela Mesina, Lalaine Verba, and Lorren Viay. Effect of Scientific Ideas Embodied in Sineskwela on the Performance of 3rd and 6th Grade Students in Their Science Exam. Diss. Miriam College, 1995. Quezon City: The Authors, 1995. Print.
Balite, Katherine. “Teachers’ Perspectives on the TV Program “Math-Tinik” as a Learning Aid for Elementary School Children: A Survey.” Diss. U of the Philippines Diliman, 1999. Print.
Children’s Television Act of 1997. Republic Act No. 8370. 28 Oct. 1997. Official Gazette. Print.
Crisostomo, Shiela. “Tech-Voc Eyed Under K+12.” The Philippine Star 29 May 2011: n.pag. Print.
Department of Education Naga. “The Practicability of Educational Television in the Philippines.” Educational TV (ETV) Program. n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2012.
“Filipinos Still Glued to the Tube, Nielsen Survey Says”. Philippine Daily Inquirer 10 Mar. 2011: n.pag. Print.
Hernando-Malipot, Ina. “Are You Ready for K+12?” Manila Bulletin 13 May 2011: n.pag. Print.
Larkin, Leo. Towards Educational Television for a Greater Manila. New York: n.p., 1960. Print.
Moody, Kate. Growing Up on Television – The TV Effect. New York: Times Books, 1980. Print.
Philippine Children’s Television Foundation, Inc. “Batibot Profile.” Batibot. Internet Archive, 1997. Web. 2 Mar. 2012.
Postman, Neil. Teaching as a Conserving Activity. New York: Delacorte Press, 1979. Print.
Schramm, Wilbur Lang. The Impact of Educational Television: Selected Studies from the Research Sponsored by the National Educational Television and Radio Center. Urbana: Illinois UP, 1960. Print.
“Tayo na sa Batibot As It Returns on TV.” Red Carpet Entertainment Magazine 23 Apr. 2010: 2. Print.
“When Stars Help Teach Children.” Manila Bulletin 8 Sep. 2009: n.pag. Print.