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The Philippine Science High School (PSHS) System presented its innovation initiatives and science education leadership practices in the virtual edition of the 2021 International Mother Language Conference and Festival on February 27.

Executive Director Lilia T. Habacon, PSHS-Eastern Visayas Campus Director Erick John H. Marmol, and Executive Secretary Aries Oliveros discussed the distinct features of PSHS education highlighted by its initiatives in the areas of leadership, curriculum, and instruction. 

The PSHS System joined the leadership track on standards setting and development of the conference in a one hour presentation with question and answer session.

“Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education plays a critical role in economic growth. STEM education also aims to increase science literacy and to improve the quality of life. Many countries worldwide see STEM as a potent means to produce critical thinkers and to empower the next generation of innovators. To achieve all these, STEM has to be translated into policies, education programs, and concrete pedagogical practices,” said Habacon.

According to Habacon, the distinct organizational structure of PISAY plays a crucial role to sustain its leadership among science high schools in the Philippines and abroad. Anchored on dynamism and relevance, the PSHS System Board of Trustees which serves as the highest policy-making body is composed of representatives from sectors such as the education for the gifted, agriculture, new and emerging technology, higher education, and industry. This kind of diverse leadership composition maintains the institutions ability for a broad base of experience and perspective to drive innovation.


Habacon emphasized that the PSHS System brand of STEM education translates into concrete innovation initiatives contributing to national significance. From 2018-2019, the PSHS System has secured intellectual property rights composed of 78 patents, inventions, industrial designs, copyrights, utility models, and processes. With 57 other intellectual property rights ongoing applications in process to this date, Pisay shall have more contributions towards the Philippines’ improved Global Innovation Index, co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency of the United Nations. In 2020, the Philippines ranked 50th among the 131 economies and 4th among the 29 lower middle-income group economies.

“With the premier quality of the STEM education that PSHS offers, more Filipino youth in the high school level will be motivated, encouraged, and decide to pursue STEM in college and a STEM career in related fields. With more PISAY graduates in the industries, more Filipino innovators are expected to boost our country’s innovation index, paving the way to faster socio-economic development. All these begin in the Pisay campuses where the “minds-on and hands-on” approach to STEM education takes place,” Habacon emphasized.

The PSHS System and the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines have forged an alliance to work together to champion the significance of intellectual property. This is a relevant partnership that aims to work towards the development of a full intellectual property academic curriculum for Pisay.

“Based on Chapter 14 of the Philippine Development Plan for 2017-2022, the Philippines shall vigorously advance science, technology, and innovation (STI) in the country through increased use of scientific and technological breakthroughs that will institutionalize improvements in education. Hence, efforts to improve science education in the PSHS System has been in full swing in the past three years,” said Marmol.


The aim of the PSHS Curriculum is to nurture scholars to become holistic individuals who are humanistic in spirit, global in perspective, patriotic in orientation, and well-prepared to pursue a STEM career which will contribute to nation-building. Specifically, a Pisay graduate is a holistically-developed, global Filipino who is well-prepared to pursue a STEM career.

The Six-Year PSHS System Curriculum framework is a product of the Australian Award Fellowship granted to seven leaders of the PSHS System in 2014. The curriculum aims to nurture distinct qualities among students. PSHS students are trained to become inquirer, knowledgeable, thinker, communicator, open-minded, creative and innovative, balanced, life-long learners, principled, reflective, compassionate, and patriotic.

“PSHS adheres to prominent teaching and learning approaches evident in actual academic engagements of its students. Among the dominant approaches are design thinking, problem-solving, project-based, challenge-based, and inquiry-based approaches. In order to ensure the development of the creative and innovative skills of students, PSHS establishes a classroom atmosphere that shifts from the traditional instruction to a more learner-centered one,” said Marmol.

The PSHS Curriculum Framework has served as a strong foundation that equipped Pisay students to bring home 198 awards in international physics, biology, chemistry, robotics, mathematics, and information technology competitions and research fairs worldwide from 2018-2020. PSHS students got 93rd percentile in mathematics in the US-based Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), and 62 students qualified in 90 prestigious universities in the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, Japan, United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Russia, Canada, and China, among others from 2019-2020.

“The PSHS System has chosen remote learning as a mode of education delivery and defined roles and expectations for teachers to effectively steer and support students’ learning in the Covid-19 pandemic through synchronous and asynchronous instruction and self-directed learning,” said Marmol.

Because of the effective implementation reflected on student performance and achievements, the PSHS System was awarded as Grand Winner in the 2020 Queensland University of Technology Impact Story. 
“Our learning guides [the PSHS System instructional modules for students] undergo peer review to check for accuracy and appropriateness of content. Through the Turnitin software, the learning guides were scanned for originality of content. The learning guides underwent revisions and adjustments in the instructional material development process,” said Marmol.

In the study titled “Performance of Philippine High Schools with Special Science Curriculum in the 2008 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS-Advanced) conducted by Ester B. Ogena, Ruby D. Laña, and Randolf S. Sasota of the Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute, revealed that in all the content domains of advanced mathematics, namely, Algebra, Geometry and Calculus and across all cognitive domains (Knowing, Applying and Reasoning), PSHS did remarkably better than the other type of science high schools, even outperforming some of the other participating countries.

Majority of the PSHS students reached the Intermediate benchmark level, which is about mid-level among the participating countries. The study said that the results reaffirm that PSHS is indeed a model in the science educational system in the country that can compete internationally.

“Innovation has been the language of development across the 16 PSHS campuses. Positive results are evident in the PSHS innovation initiatives and in its science education leadership practices through the efficient implementation of its specialized STEM curriculum and delivery of instruction,” said Oliveros.

According to Oliveros, the PSHS System Curriculum reflects the results of a study of LaForce, Noble, King, Holt, and Century in the United States in 2016 that identified six core elements and two supporting elements of inclusive STEM schools. Of the six core elements, four were instructional and two were non-instructional. The instructional elements common across the inclusive STEM schools included the personalization of learning, the use of problem-based learning, increased rigor of learning, and the incorporation of career, technical, and life skills. The non-instructional elements were a sense of community and school belonging and connections to the external community.

“Experiential learning teaches future scientists, doctors, researchers, engineers, and innovators to be comfortable with scientific procedures in the labs. Hands-on learning also impacts development of values such as precision and accuracy,” said Oliveros, who served as chief of Curriculum and Instruction Division of PSHS-Central Luzon Campus for five years.


Oliveros added that PSHS enriches its curriculum offerings with specialized programs: Kids’ Innovation Challenge, Science Research Summit, Model United Nations, and the PISAY Science Communication, among others where students can exhibit higher order thinking skills.

The PSHS System invests in human resource empowerment through its annual National Teachers Convention that aims to improve teachers’ practical knowledge of integrating STEM subjects at the classroom level, to harmonize the implementation of the curriculum in terms of major instructional assessment practices, and to encourage sharing of research findings in their respective fields of specialization. To help non-education graduates among faculty members, the PSHS System offers the Customized Certificate in Professional Education Program (CPE) to equip them with pedagogical skills and to encourage them to take the licensure examination for teachers. This program operates in partnership with accredited reputable universities.

“The PSHS Comprehensive Teacher Induction Program helps new and young teachers in the 16 campuses. This initiative aims to develop a learning community that will streamline ways and means to help teachers and administrators to adapt to our workplace culture and highlights conditions of success. With proper guidance, new teachers can begin to understand how the pieces of the whole fit together and feel confident to carry out their responsibilities and functions,” said Oliveros.


According to Habacon, the PSHS System strives to sustain its leadership as the premier science high school in the Philippines and shall focus on more STEM education innovations as part of its future directions to remain relevant in the field of STEM education. 

“We will develop a culture of smart thinking instead of lots of knowledge so that PSHS System graduates to be leaders and enablers in society and invest in digital learning innovations in conducting face-to-face and online classes, lab activities, and adaptability to technology (Artificial Intelligence, virtual and augmented reality),” said Habacon.

Habacon added that the PSHS System shall embrace learning adjustments as dictated by the economy towards new competencies, intensify focus on enhancement of socio-emotional skills of students; and enhance the learnability of students by strengthening their ability to learn by themselves.


(Aries N. Oliveros, Executive Assistant)