Growth of the PSHS System [VIDEO]

“As we reach for our dreams,
as we strive for our goals
As we search for the untarnished truth”

— from the PSHS hymn, written by Mario Taguiwalo

What is the PSHS system?

The Philippine Science High School system (PSHS for short, or colloquially, “Pisay”) is a “specialized public high school system in the Philippines” (Wikipedia)– akin to magnet schools in the U.S. PSHS offers scholarships to all students, selected through a competitive national exam (with a 7% admission rate*).

The first campus was founded in Diliman, Quezon City in September 1964. After 24 years, the first regional campus– the Southern Mindanao campus– was established in Davao City. The national plan is to establish a campus in each of the 17 regions of the country. Today, there are 11 regional campuses in all, with around 3,800 student-scholars enrolled. Two additional campuses are set to open by 2014– in Tagaytay City, Cavite (CALABARZON Region Campus) and Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur (Zamboanga Peninsula Region Campus).

This video shows the growth of the PSHS system to 11 existing and 2 planned PSHS campuses. The size of the circles is proportional to the number of enrolled students (for the school year 2011-2012).**

The last frame of the video can downloaded– and used as a data graphic– here.

How many scholars?

One of the (many) good things about Pisay (as we, scholars, affectionately call it) is that class sizes are limited to at most 30 students. The main campus at Diliman is the largest in terms of student body, with 8 sections for a total of around 960 students in total (8 sections x 30 students x 4 years of HS). The other campuses have 3 sections per year, or around 350 students in total. The newer campuses are still “filling in” their upper years, but are building toward that number. In total, more than 3,800 students are enrolled in the 11 campuses. Among them are our future scientists, innovators, leaders, and changemakers.

It would be interesting to estimate many PSHS alumni there are today. Assuming the same number of students from the beginning, we get an upper limit of 21,500. Since the Diliman campus started out with fewer students, the number is probably closer to 15,000 alumni or 1 for every 60,000 Filipinos.***

Appeal to reader:

If you are a Pisay scholar– like me– please appreciate how lucky this makes you. I used to cringe at the cliche they repeated like a mantra then: “To whom much is given, much is required”. Now, 12 years wiser, I understand, and humbly accept.

If you have a child, cousin, niece, nephew, young neighbor, or friend who shows interest and aptitude for science, I encourage you to tell him or her about Pisay– and the possibilities that await.

If you are one, yourself, I encourage you to apply! 🙂



*The figure 7% was estimated from the Wikipedia figure of 17,000 test-takers per year, i.e., (240+11 x 900)/17,000.

**Data used to create this graphic is available here: pshs_enrollees_2011-2012.xls. Thanks to the PSHS System Office of the Executive Director for providing enrollee information. The video was made using Processing.

***As always, comments and corrections are most welcome!


4 Comments on “Growth of the PSHS System [VIDEO]”

  1. Carl Agripa says:

    Nice to see you’re writing again on your blog Reina 🙂

  2. John de la Cruz says:

    do you think the PSHS system has been beneficial to the country in advancing science? Or is it too early for the age because the child has not really made up his or her mind to be graduating in a science degree at 12 years old. Would the government rather spend that money in university where in it maybe able to track the return of its investment by ensuring that the graduate will have the capacity to apply his or her scholarship for the good of the country?

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for your question. I assume you’re asking for my personal opinion, so I’ll give it a shot. Others can, of course, weigh in, too. The short answer is yes– I think overall Pisay is doing the country good.

      In my case, it showed at a young age (in elementary school) that I had an interest and aptitude for science and math, and for academic pursuit in general. This is not the case for everyone, but this is not so rare either. Note that 1,000 students a year is not a large number compared to the general population, so it is not unreasonable to think that there are as many early science-inclined Filipino 13-year olds– just as there are children who show talent in the creative arts (the government supports a small number of them too, at the Philippine High School for the Arts in Mt. Makiling, Los Banos, Laguna). In fact, there are most likely more deserving children than slots available– and even more so, if we start to teach science well (but that is for another time).

      Needless to say, individual motivations to enter Pisay vary. Plus, it is inevitable that some will find that the scientific career is not suited to them, just as it happens for some during college, after choosing their major at a still-young age of 17 (adding the extra year in K-12 will help here; ideally, one should enter without a major and choose after “sampling”, as in liberal colleges here in the U.S.– but again, this is for another time).

      It is also true that not all– perhaps, not many– Pisay graduates become professional scientists (as to why, let’s leave for another time, too). Here I would argue– it doesn’t matter! The society is better for having scientifically-trained minds in ALL sectors– in fact, it is clear we need more of them! Especially in politics and journalism (hence, this blog, ehem ehem).

      Now we come to the more tricky part. Many of us end up outside the country, and here comes my own personal bias on this sensitive issue. I respect everyone’s decision to leave or not, to return or not– we live in a globalized world, and it’s immature to counter or ignore this. Still, I feel that if someone starts to lead a life as if he or she wasn’t Filipino (and e.g., cuts all ties to the community), then I consider that a true loss of investment, as you put it. Unfortunately this happens too. But, take heart, not often enough to throw the whole thing away. I, for one, plan to return and do my part– whatever that will come to mean. I know many who are doing theirs.

      As a final note, you correctly bring up cost opportunity. To this point, I’d say it is a good thing for the government to diversify its funds– invest in all levels instead of concentrating, as you say, in just the college level. Indeed, I would say, better to put more money at the earliest levels– feed the infants and toddlers, keep them healthy, teach them
      Math and Reading, encourage learning and creativity. But again, I digress.

      Anyway, the good news is that there is now enough money to go around– and let’s hope this positive trend continues. Recently, the government has started offering decent PhD and postdoc level fellowships too!

      So there you are. You probably got more than you bargained for, but this is what you get as one of the first commenters! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s