Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, sees bright prospects for the Philippines taking part in the novel Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), but cautioned against rushing it.
“Good news,” Gatchalian told reporters after conducting a Senate hearing on the new program. “Reforms are being started on what we can do in order to increase our ranking in Pisa,” Gatchalian said in Filipino.
For the first time, the Philippines in 2018 joined the Pisa, a program of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), as part of the Quality Basic Education reform plan and a step toward globalizing the quality of Philippine basic education.
Released on December 3, 2019, the 2018 Pisa results revealed that the Philippines scored 353 in Mathematics, 357 in Science, and 340 in Reading, all below the average of participating OECD countries.
With the Pisa results also reflecting the learners’ performance in the National Achievement Test, the Department of Education (DepEd) recognizes the urgency of addressing issues and gaps in attaining quality of basic education in the Philippines, it said in its web site.
Gatchalian said that what is important is the performance of students. “It is important that they are getting intelligent and getting better.”
Citing the need for curriculum reform, Gatchalian said there is the need to address congestion. “The curriculum is very congested. On the average the schoolchildren are taught 300 competencies,” he said.
Moreover, the senator noted that with only 200 schooldays, which means “one competency per day [which is more than what the schoolchildren can take].”
“For the schoolchildren, that is difficult to absorb. One of the reforms the DepEd is doing, to which I agree, is decongesting the curriculum to make education better and attractive to children,” he said.
Asked about his recommendation for those taking Pisa next year, Gatchalian explained: “Since reforms are just being started, with curriculum and teachers’ training, it will take time [to improve the students’ performance in Pisa].”
He noted that the first implementation of the enhanced curriculum is set to start this coming June.
He added: “There is not enough time because the next Pisa will be in March next year. It will take time to make the schoolchildren learn and absorb the new curriculum.”
He recommended that the country should not take the Pisa next year to give time for the curriculum reform and for its implementation.
He said the DepEd officials are now discussing their options. “In fact, the DepEd management is discussing if we still have to take the Pisa or not.”
One Pisa exam costs $1 million or P50 million. “So it is not cheap. That is why if we will not make reforms, I’m sure the result of [the country’s] Pisa rating next year will be the sane as last year’s,” he said.
The senator said there is no need to rush. “We can save the $1 million and use it for research, and other concerns that we need to correct. It has the support of the Senate in terms of budget. We increase the budget every year. We should study the 2021 Pisa and just take the next Pisa, or after three years, in 2024.”
Image credits: Roy Domingo