By SENATOR SONNY ANGARA
Details about the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results for the Philippines have been bandied about in various media channels. The results showed that around 80% of of our students had low scores in reading, such that they would have difficulty identifying the main idea of a given text, making comparisons between pieces of literature, and figuring out what is relevant in a certain passage. Moreover, of our students, only 0.05% are at level-5 proficiency for reading—meaning that they can comprehend long texts and can figure out what information is relevant from it.
As I’ve written in my article last week, rather than see such results as part of a series of losses, we should now come together as a nation and rise to the challenge of raising the quality of our education and finally making it world-class. I am happy to say that many stakeholders are taking this matter very seriously and are willing to act—especially since our education system faces some very serious problems.
For instance, in 2018, the enrollment ratio for junior high school was only at 81.4%, and for senior high, it was at 51.2%. For junior high school students in 2017, the completion rate was only at 84.3%. The passing rate for licensure exams across the board was only at 37.9% in 2018. On top of all of that, there is still a chronic shortage of teachers and classrooms, combined with large class sizes and difficulty in learning.
Clearly, solving these problems will take a lot of unpacking and critical self-assessment. And while various groups in the public and private sectors have already been studying and working on reforms to our education system, it is imperative that a comprehensive, system-wide initiative is launched towards finding solutions.
That’s why we recently filed a Senate resolution with fellow Senators Drilon, Gatchalian, Poe, and Villanueva to establish a Congressional Oversight Committee on Education or EDCOM. In many ways, this effort will mirror the EDCOM launched by my father, Senate President Edgardo J. Angara, some decades back, which, among other things, resulted in the trifocalization of our education system into portfolios managed by the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
Our EDCOM—or EDCOM 2 if you will—will be composed of ten members, evenly divided between members of the Senate and the House of Representatives. It will review, assess, and evaluate all learning systems that are existing in the country, especially those underpinned by recently enacted laws such as the Enhanced Basic Education (K to 12 Law) and the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (Free College Law).
From this, EDCOM 2 will produce a report that will include short- and long-term policy and program recommendations. Recommendations will touch on sectoral plans and targets, curriculum and program development, financing, and convergent actions that will include all departments and sectors that have a stake in human resource management and development on a national scale. In this way, we can properly strategize and put a proper budget together for the improvement of ongoing projects and services, as well as starting up new ones.
Through this EDCOM, we hope to give proper attention to all the changes and improvements that need to be done in our current educational systems, so that we can not only address the challenges that PISA has presented us, but to also develop our country’s human resources into a work force that is not only skilled and prepared for future economic developments, their skills will become known as world-class as a whole, once again.
The goal is not only to rise in the country ranks for the PISA. Our true goal is to make sure that Filipinos will be globally known as highly skilled workers and brilliant professionals.
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Senator Sonny Angara has been in public service for 15 years—9 years as Representative of the Lone District of Aurora, and 6 as Senator. He has authored and sponsored more than 200 laws. He recently won another term in the Senate.
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