By Jhon Aldrin Casinas
The Department of Education (DepEd) has called for help from the nation in improving the quality of basic education in the country.
“We envision that no Filipino learners should be left behind and it takes a nation to educate a child. Hence, DepEd calls on the entire nation to take active involvement, cooperation, and collaboration in advancing the quality of basic education in the Philippines,” the DepEd said in a statement on Wednesday.
The Philippines scored lowest in reading comprehension in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
According to the latest PISA result released on Tuesday, the country ranked the second lowest in Science and Math followed by the Dominican Republic.
DepEd said the Philippines scored 353 points in Mathematics and 357 points in Science which were “all below the average of participating OECD countries” of 489 points.
Moreover, the country garnered a score of 340 points in the overall reading literacy, the lowest of all the participating countries in the assessment.
This was the first time that the Philippines participated in the triennial international assessment that seeks to test the proficiency of 15-year-old learners in Reading, Science, and Mathematics.
“By participating in PISA, we will be able to establish our baseline in relation to global standards, and benchmark the effectiveness of our reforms moving forward,” the DepEd said.
“The PISA results, along with our own assessments and studies, will aid in policy formulation, planning, and programming,” the statement read.
Coinciding with the release of the 2018 PISA results, the DepEd launched on Tuesday its “Sulong Edukalidad” program that aims to address the need for quality basic education in the country.
“While we are very happy to see major development in terms of access to basic education, we finally need to respond to the biggest lingering challenge of basic education in the country – quality – particularly of our students’ learning outcomes,” said DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones during the launch.
Through the program, the DepEd will implement aggressive reforms in four key areas collectively known as “KITE.”
KITE stands for (K) to 12 review and update; (I)mprovement of learning environment; (T)eachers’ “up-skilling and re-skilling” through a modified professional development program; and (E)ngagement of all stakeholders for support and collaboration.
‘Now-we-know’ stance hit
Meanwhile, a teachers’ group slammed on Thursday what they said was a “now-we-know” stance of the DepEd on the poor result of the country on the assessment test.
“It is ironic for DepEd to be the last to know about the dismal quality of education when this has always been the concern of teachers on the ground,” said Joselyn Martinez, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines chairperson, in a statement.
According to ACT, the major factors for the “backslide” of the country’s education quality were the “long-time unaddressed shortages in education needs due to insufficient state funding and inefficient implementation.”
“What quality education can we expect in overpopulated, poorly-ventilated classrooms where students are wanting of books and teachers are overwhelmed with non-teaching duties while both have grumbling stomachs?” Martinez asked.
She explained that access and quality should be developed hand-in-hand. However, Martinez said that the “one-sided stress on access” has affected the quality of education “as schools are compelled to take in all enrolees but capacities are not sufficiently expanded and improved, thus making quality suffer.”
ACT also said that the DepEd’s “KITE” initiative “misses major concerns that impact on education quality.”
“Actions to the K to 12 program should not be limited to review and updating but a thorough assessment and evaluation to see if it really advanced the education objective for national development,” Martinez said.
“If found ineffective, why repair a tool that’s not fit for the job?” she asked.
Martinez added that improvements on the student’s learning environment, which also serves as the working environment of teachers, “should entail sufficient budget allocation and efficient spending to fill in all the shortages as well as enabling teachers to focus on teaching by freeing them from non-teaching duties and substantially raising their salaries.”
Moreover, ACT said that the “re-skilling and up-skilling” of teachers “will go to naught if an effective curriculum is not rolled out and their overworked and underpaid status is not addressed.”