MANILA, Philippines — Following the release of a World Bank report outlining the poor performance of Filipino students in key literacy subjects, an official of the Department of Education (DepEd) gave assurance Friday that reforms are underway to improve the quality of education in the country.
Even before the results from international assessments, Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said they had already identified quality as a major challenge in Philippine education, citing student performance in national achievement tests.
“We accept as a challenge the results showing that we are a bit far if we look at the scale measuring literacies from international standards,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino in a Teleradyo interview.
“What we are assuring our countrymen is that we recognize the challenge of (providing) quality education and that is what we are addressing,” he added.
The World Bank, in a synthesis report dated June 21, noted a crisis in Philippine education, citing the results of three international assessments that Filipino students recently took part in.
These included the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the 2019 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) and the 2019 Regional Report of the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM).
The report noted that more than 80 percent of Filipino children do not know what they should know, with their poor performance deeply rooted in limited proficiency in the languages in which schooling takes place.
It also cited an unacceptably poor school climate and high levels of bullying.
Malaluan said they are aware of many of the findings in the World Bank report, stressing that the purpose of joining international assessments is to better understand the situation and translate these into concrete actions.
He lamented the World Bank’s failure to provide them with the copy of the report before it was released to the media, noting that it did not take into account the interventions that they are already implementing.
“There is no acknowledgement in their study of the reform initiatives that we are doing in the Department of Education even though they have direct knowledge of it,” he said. “We are as much a partner in addressing the challenge of quality education and we hope that they will also acknowledge the things that are already being done… We also hope that the World Bank will be able to provide a fuller context and fairer discussion.”
In its report, the World Bank recommended promoting safe and inclusive learning environments, investing in early childhood and development, strengthening of the mother tongue-based multilingual education and increasing government education spending.