By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the Department of Education (DepEd) has yet to decide if the Philippines will join the next Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA) following the low ranking Filipino learners obtained in 2018.
In a press briefing, Briones said DepEd officials are still discussing whether or not to join in the next PISA in 2021. “We’re still talking about it, but unlike in 2016, which was solely based on DepEd’s opinion, we will gather stakeholders’ inputs and ask them if we should join or not,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.
The 2018 PISA result showed that Filipino students fared “worst” among 79 countries in terms of reading literacy and second lowest in both scientific and mathematical literacy. It also revealed that the country scored 353 in mathematics, 357 in science, and 340 in reading, scores that are considered “below the average” of participating Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
Because of these poor results, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, in the Senate committee on basic education, arts, and culture hearing on the PISA results, advised DepEd not to participate in the next assessment round and instead focus on addressing the issues that confront the basic education system.
Reforms are for learners, not int’l rankings
As the Philippine government continues to reflect on the 2018 PISA results, Briones reminded stakeholders that the country’s participation was meant to prioritize introducing reforms into the education system.
Briones emphasized that the government must use the PISA results “beyond the rankings” to evaluate the situation and inject necessary reforms.
“If we introduce reforms, it will not necessarily because we want to raise our rankings in PISA, it is because we care about the future of our 27.2 million learners and the future of this country,” she said. “We should not fall into a trap of implementing special programs in order to [just] rank highly.”
While ranking is not the purpose of education, Briones said, ranking in international assessments is “useful because we see ourselves to the mirror of global standard.” Thus, “we must face the challenges that confront education for the country, for the future, for our learners, and not to [attain] rank number one.”
Briones said she has started sitting down with officials and teachers of the public schools nationwide that performed well in the PISA to gain additional insight into their best practices and further contribute in enhancing the curriculum.
Last January, Briones visited Baguio City National High School in Benguet, which earned the distinction of getting the best reading score in the country.
“They [top performing schools] are not all in NCR (National Capital Region), you have in Baguio, in the Visayas, you have in Bicol and Mindanao [and] in spite of all the constraints, they are performing well,” she said. “There must be something happening where they are and we want to learn from them.”