Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte on Wednesday lamented that Filipino learners’ declining scores in global education assessment is an “uncomfortable truth” after the Philippines remained among the lowest-ranked out of 81 participating nations.
The Philippines placed 77th in the 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released on Tuesday.
PISA measures the level of literacy of 15-year-olds every three years in mathematics, reading and science.
“Compared to 2018, the proportion of students scoring below a baseline level of proficiency [Level 2] did not change significantly in mathematics, reading and science,” the study stated.
Although the score in mathematics increased by two points compared to 2018 results, Filipino learners’ average score is 355 points, which is way below the 472 global average points.
For the score in reading literacy, the country earned 347 points, still lower than the global average reading score, which is 476 points.
The Philippines also scored low in science after it achieved 356 points, lower than the OECD average of 485 points.
At its worst state?
The country’s dismal ranking for the second time alarmed the Philippine Business for Education (PBed), saying such showing it is a clear indication that “our education system is in its worst state and much work needs to be done.”
PBed stressed that the poor performance of our learners is not just a problem of education alone, but also the country as a whole.
“The weaknesses in our basic education system will eventually translate into the weakness of our workforce, affecting the productivity and key source of our economic growth and competitiveness,” PBed said.
They also urged all sectors to act.
“A crisis of this magnitude requires swift action and great effort from all sectors. As the voice of business in education reform, we hope to rally once more our partners in the industry, government, and academe to take action for education—through the window of opportunity that we have in the ongoing work of the Second Congressional Commission on Education [EDCOM 2],” PBed added.
“Nevertheless, we welcome our continuous participation in large-scale international learning assessments as this provides us measurement of the impact of the pandemic on learning. Efforts must also be made to use this assessment as guidance to improve our current situation and see the value of making data-driven decisions in education governance,” it added.
In 2018, the Philippines joined the international assessment for the first time.
“Average 2022 results were about the same as in 2018 in mathematics, reading and science,” the study added.
The low ranking in PISA was already anticipated by the Department of Education (DepEd).
In a recent interview with CNN Philippines’ “The Source,” DepEd spokesperson Undersecretary Michael Tan Poa admitted that they are not expecting “good results.”
“To be honest, we’re not expecting good results. So right now, we’re really focused on learning recovery,” Poa said, even as he bared a proposal to redirect P150 million in confidential funds to the National Learning Recovery Program (NLRP) to enhance Filipino students’ competencies in reading, mathematics, and science.
Where to now?
The Marcos government should still urgently address the education crisis and fast-track the learning recovery if it is serious about preparing a new generation of citizens and workers adept in nation-building.
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, stressed this point after the Philippines continued to post dismal performance in the 2022 round of the PISA.
Despite a slight improvement (+2.66 points) in the Philippines’ average performance, Gatchalian emphasized that the government should not lose the urgency in stemming the country’s education crisis and accelerating learning recovery.
Among Gatchalian’s proposed next steps is the intensification of DepEd’s learning recovery programs and the enactment of the ARAL Program Act (Senate Bill No. 1604). He has been advocating for the swift passage of the ARAL Bill, which the Senate has already approved on third and final reading last March. The proposed measure seeks to address pandemic-related learning loss and ensure that learners have access to well-designed remediation plans. Gatchalian is eyeing a budget of P10 billion for the rollout of academic recovery.
“Patuloy dapat nating tutukan ang pagbangon ng sektor ng edukasyon mula sa pandemya ng Covid-19 na nagdulot ng krisis. Marami pa tayong mga repormang isusulong upang matiyak ang dekalidad na edukasyon sa bawat kabataang Pilipino,” said Gatchalian, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.
Image credits: Winona Sadia