By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday urged the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to work hard at providing quality education to ensure that Filipino students are globally competitive.
Gatchalian made the call after the results of a global survey showed the Philippines ranking lowest in reading comprehension and second to the lowest in both math and science.
Although it no longer comes as a surprise to him, Gatchalian said the results of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 should prompt the country’s educators to improve the standard of education in the Philippines.
“Bagama’t inaasahan natin ang mababang marka sa pag-aaral na ito, magsisilbi itong gabay upang iangat ang kalidad ng edukasyon sa bansa (Though we have anticipated getting low marks in this study, I hope this would serve as a guide for us on how to improve the quality of education in the country),” said Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on basic education, arts and culture.
“Kung gagamitin natin ang datos at mga rekomendasyon sa pag-aaral na ito, mas mauunawaan natin kung ano ba ang mga suliranin sa ating sistema ng edukasyon at kung paano ba natin iaangat ang kalidad nito (if we can use the data and the recommendation cited in the study, we can better understand where the problem in our education system lies and what we can do to level it up),” Gatchalian said.
Based on the study, which was conducted among 600,000 students in 79 countries, the Philippines had an average score of 340 in Reading Comprehension, 353 in Science and 357 in Mathematics.
PISA is a triennial study that measures 15-year olds’ ability to use their knowledge and skills in Reading, Mathematics, and Science to meet real-life challenges.
According to Gatchalian, the poor result of the study is no different from the decline in the National Achievement Test (NAT) Scores in the country’s Basic Education.
The senator said the 2018 NAT results showed that for the third straight year, the national average mean percentage score (MPS) in Grade 6 continued its downward trajectory at 37.44 percent, the weakest performance in the history of the standardized examination of the DepEd.
He said the PISA study only emphasizes the urgency of improving the standard of education in the country and reiterates his support to the DepEd’s shift of focus from mere “access” to ensuring quality education.
But the lawmaker said the pivot from access to quality would entail additional investments in quality learning materials and the capacity-building of teachers, as well as a more focused curriculum.
“Mahalagang masiguro natin na nakakagamit ang mga paaralan ng sapat na kagamitan at teknolohiyang makakatulong sa pag-angat ng edukasyon sa bansa (It’s very important that schools are able to use sufficient tools and technology that can help increase the quality of education in the country),” he said.
“Ito ay magsisilbing paghahanda para sa ating mga mag-aaral pagpasok nila sa ating mga industriya, (This will serve as preparation for our students when they enter our industries),” he added.
Aside from improving the curriculum, Gatchalian reiterated CHED’s role in ensuring that the next generation of teachers are well equipped to teach young Filipinos under the K-12 program.
“Kasabay nito, mahalagang masiguro natin na mahuhusay ang ating mga guro lalo na’t sumasalamin sa kanila ang kakahayan ng mga mag-aaral, (At the same time, we need to ensure that our teachers themselves are well-equipped as their students’ performance is a reflection of their competency),” he added.
Gatchalian said he plans to convene the joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the K-12 program in January next year to identify solutions to these alarming results from the PISA program.
“Kung nais nating umangat ang katayuan natin sa PISA, kailangang pagtuunan natin ng pansin ang tamang pagpapatupad ng programang K to 12 (If we want our rank in the PISA to level up, then we need to focus on how we can properly implement the K-12 program),” he said.
“Ngunit hindi natin ito gagawin dahil lang gusto nating tumaas ang marka natin sa PISA, ang pinakamahalagang usapin dito ay ang kakayahan at kahandaan ng ating mga mag-aaral upang magkaroon sila ng magandang kinabukasan, (But we will not do this just because we want our rank in the PISA to be better. The most important thing we need to focus on is improving our students’ skills and preparing them for a brighter future),” Gatchalian emphasized.