The state of public education in PHL
Now that we are resuming face-to-face classes after two long years of online struggles for learners and teachers, the focus is once again on the state of our education system, especially the quality of education in the Philippines. .
There are proposals here and there on how to make education in the Philippines more competitive. For example, Vice President and Secretary of Education Sara Duterte-Carpio plans to remove administrative duties from teachers so they can focus more on teaching. And President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. wants to bring back the use of the English language as the language of instruction in schools. He also wants Filipino students to improve in international rankings, especially in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects.
Others advocate substantial reforms, starting with the DepEd budget, to expand access and develop higher standards and goals for achievement. Results from the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment revealed that 15-year-old students in the Philippines had lower scores in reading, math and science than those in most participating countries and economies – the country stands out. ranked last among 79 participating countries and economies in reading and second to last in science and math.
The World Bank estimates that learning poverty in the Philippines, which means being unable to read and understand simple text at age 10, is now at 90.9%. In a report titled The State of Global Learning Poverty: 2022 Update, the lender said its estimate of learning poverty in the country was based on “2022 simulations that draw on the most recent data”.
A recent report conducted jointly by the United Nations Children’s Fund and the Philippine government – Analysis of the Situation of Children in the Philippines – indicates that 31.4% of the more than 40 million Filipino children live below the threshold of basic needs poverty in 2015.
The report states that in 2013, only about 42% of children aged 3 to 4 were enrolled in daycare. However, kindergarten enrollment almost doubled between 2005 and 2013 (standing at 74.65% in 2015).
The report adds: “In 2015, the net enrollment rate in primary was 91.05% and 68.15% in secondary. In 2015, 83.4% (primary) and around 73.9% (secondary) of enrolled children had actually completed their schooling, reflecting a somewhat fluctuating increase in completion rates compared to 2010. It is also estimated that an estimated 2.85 million children between the ages of 5 and 15 have left school. from school.”
PISA results in 2018 were based on the actual test performance of 15-year-old Filipino students. We don’t know where the World Bank researchers got their data to come up with an estimate that learning poverty in the Philippines is now at 90.9%. What we do know is that World Bank researchers did “simulations” where they concluded that almost all 10-year-olds in the country are “unable to read and understand simple text.” But it is worth remembering that the lender prepared the report for its own purposes, not for the benefit of the Philippines. That’s why we have to take this World Bank report with a grain of salt.
There are more cell phones in the country than the total population. In 2019, there were nearly 169 million mobile subscribers in the Philippines. We have yet to meet a 10-year-old Filipino child who cannot text on a cell phone.
Unfortunately, the World Bank report alarmed Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Basic Education, Arts and Culture Committee at the 19th Congress, who said it was aligning priority measures to address the education crisis.
“Solving the education crisis will be the focus of the Senate Education Committee,” Gatchalian said, confirming he had tabled an enabling resolution in the Senate paving the way for an investigation into the implementation. of RA 10533, the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, or the K-12 Act. The senator pointed out that, based on the results of large-scale international assessments, learners are not mastering basic skills and are lagging behind their peers abroad (Read, “Senator Highlights place measures to reverse the “education crisis”, in the BusinessMirror, July 25, 2022).
We know there are gaps and inefficiencies in the country’s public school system. Some of these include the lack of classrooms, teachers, and educational tools to support solid learning. Studies have shown that low government budget for education, poor quality of teachers, poor school facilities such as laboratories and libraries, poor learning environment and curriculum content all contribute to the deterioration of the quality of education in the country.
We hope that President Marcos and Vice President and Secretary of Education Sara Duterte-Carpio will succeed in addressing these and other education-related issues.