, Volume 83, Issue 1, pp 13–30 | Cite as

Modelling the effect of deprived physical urban environments on academic performance in the Philippines

  • Ligaya Leah Lara FigueroaEmail author
  • Samsung Lim
  • Jihyun Lee


This study investigates how physical urban environments affect academic performance of urban public elementary schools in the Philippines by analysing the physical environment of school facilities and slum areas. Global, local, and semi-parametric regression analyses indicate that there is disproportionate provision of resources among the government schools and that lower academic performance is associated with the provision of fewer clinics rather than the proximity to poverty hotspots. Semiparametric, geographically weighted regression modelling outperformed global and local modelling, and estimated up to 30 % of the variation in math scores where the semi-parametric regression model is based on each school’s number of teachers and rooms, building conditions, availability of health clinics, and the location of slum areas near the school. On the basis of the research findings, it is concluded that the current state of school buildings is adequate and is a lower priority than the provision of health care support and smaller pupil–teacher ratios. Hence, government programs that aim to enhance the academic performance of children from the deprived physical urban environments should prioritize the provision of health clinics as well as maintaining few large schools with small pupil–teacher ratios.


Philippines Public elementary schools Educational facilities Physical urban environments Informal settlers GIS Semi-parametric geographically weighted regression 



The authors would like to thank the School Mapping Unit of the Department of Education, Philippines as well as Dr. Wilmina Lara of Geodata Systems Technologies for allowing the use of their data. This research was supported by the Engineering Research and Development for Technology—Human Resource Development Program (ERDT-HRD) of the Department of Science and Technology, Philippines.


This study was funded by the Engineering Research and Development for Technology—Human Resource Development Program (ERDT-HRD) of the Department of Science and Technology, Philippines.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Ligaya Leah Figueroa has received research grants from the funding organization. Samsung Lim and Jihyun Lee has no relationship with the funding organization.

Ethical approval

This paper does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.School of Education, University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Computer Science, University of the PhilippinesDilimanPhilippines

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