By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
The Department of Education (DepEd) challenged the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to emphasize the important contexts and nuances to country comparisons and ranking – noting that not all countries are “perfectly comparable.”
DepEd Undersecretary and Chief of Staff Nepomuceno Malaluan, in an earlier press briefing, said that the department urged PISA to take into considerations some aspects when it comes to its ranking system.
The DepEd formally made this suggestion to the PISA during the Education World Forum 2020 (EWF2020) at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London held in January. “A ranking system gives the public the impression that countries are perfectly comparable,” he said during plenary session. “But the country contexts and education systems are vastly different – they differ in size, levels of development, and challenges,” he added.
Malaluan spoke on behalf of Education Secretary Leonor Briones who cancelled her EWF2020 engagement to check on the situation of displaced learners and teachers affected by the phreatic eruption of Taal Volcano.
While DepEd recognizes the significance of PISA results especially in establishing the “baseline and evidence needed by the country in relation to global standards,” Malaluan noted that it should also take into consideration other factors that may affect the ranking of a participating country.
“We believe that in addition to taking the lead in sharing the lessons from the PISA results towards education transformation, PISA should also do more to further emphasize the important contexts and nuances to country comparisons and ranking,” Malaluan said.
In particular, Malaluan pointed out that the “national incomes of the participating countries vary greatly, and that countries with higher national incomes tend to score higher in PISA, even as there is evidence that the income factor can be overcome.”
DepEd noted that along with the national income disparity are “qualitative differences in conjunctural conditions that pose unique challenges to each education system.” Malaluan also added that “while, as the report says, PISA brings together about 90 countries representing 80% of the word economy, there are also more than 100 countries that are not yet participating, inhabited by about 45% of the world’s population, and if we include the population of the non-participating provinces in China, brings this up to about 60%.”
Malaluan said that the Philippines takes quality education “very seriously” and seeks to maximize initiatives like PISA to guide its way towards education transformation thus, it looks “forward to balanced communication of all aspects and nuances of PISA, as we partner with PISA and the global education community towards advancing quality education for all.”
The results of PISA 2018 – which compared the quality of basic education of the 79 member and partner countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – showed the Philippines ranking at the bottom for performance in reading, and second-lowest for both Mathematics and Science.
The 2018 PISA results showed that the Philippines scored 340 points in reading, below the average of 487 points of OECD member and partner countries, 353 points in Mathematical Literacy, below the average of 489 points, and 357 points in Science, below the average of 489 points.
DepEd to focus on quality
Despite the “unfavorable” PISA results, Malaluan underscored that this has motivated the DepEd to address the challenge of quality by launching “Sulong EduKalidad.”
Malaluan explained that the “Sulong EduKalidad” – under the backdrop of the PISA results – has “galvanized broad unity to work together on key reforms” including collaborative research to deepen insights from PISA and national assessments, and coordinated concrete interventions under four pillars through K-to-12 curriculum review and update; Improving the learning environment; teachers’ upskilling and reskilling; and Engagement of stakeholders for support and collaboration.
The Education World Forum brought delegates from two-thirds of the world’s population including education ministers to debate on future education policies. For this year, the theme was “What should we do with what we know?” anchored on building long-term vision and courage to adjust strategy to changing circumstances, and to develop collective intelligence and community to enhance and sustain change, among others.