Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian on Saturday, Dec. 5, lamented that a Southeast Asia-wide study on the learning outcomes of Grade 5 students showed that a large number of Filipino learners are not proficient enough in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics to advance to secondary school.
As chairman of the Senate basic education committee, Gatchalian said this study reiterates the urgency of rolling out basic education curriculum reforms that would boost Filipino learners’ basic competencies.
Results of the 2019 study Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) revealed that only 10 percent of Filipino learners have developed proficiency in reading to allow their transition to secondary education.
In Mathematics, it was only 17 percent. In terms of writing, only one percent could write cohesive texts with detailed ideas and a good range of appropriate vocabulary.
The SEA-PLM 2019 was conducted by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Six countries participated in the pen-and-paper large scale assessment. In the Philippines, there were 6,083 participants for this study.
According to Gatchalian, the results of this study reinforced the findings of the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which showed that out of 79 countries, the Philippines ranked lowest in Reading Comprehension and second lowest in Science and Mathematics.
“Lumalabas sa resulta ng SEA-PLM na lalo tayong dapat magsulong at magpatupad ng mga reporma sa ating sistema ng edukasyon—mula sa guro hanggang sa ating curriculum—upang masigurong natututo ang ating mga mag-aaral. Bagama’t nasa kalagitnaan tayo ng krisis dahil sa pandemya ng COVID-19, lalo nating dapat isagawa ang mga repormang ito upang hindi lalong mapag-iwanan ang ating mga mag-aaral (The result of the SEA-PLM study shows we have to initiate reforms in our education system – starting from our teachers to our curriculum – to ensure that our students learn. We need to implement reform even if we are in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic so that our students do not fall behind),” he said.
As part of its national reform program, Sulong EduKalidad, the Department of Education (DepEd) is currently implementing a streamlined curriculum under the Most Essential Learning Competencies (MELCs) because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
DepEd, however, is still conducting its curriculum review which is set to be completed by 2021. A congested curriculum is considered one of the reasons why learners cannot master basic competencies.
For Gatchalian, the goal of a streamlined curriculum is not simply an improved showing in national and international assessments. He emphasized that competencies required under the new curriculum should have a sharper focus on promoting the 4Cs—critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, and communication.
He also emphasized the importance of reforming teacher education and training, noting that the quality of teachers and their education are basic inputs to improved learning outcomes.
To improve teacher education, Gatchalian filed Senate Bill 1887, or the Teacher Education Council Act, which seeks to strengthen the coordination between the DepEd and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to improve teacher education and training in the country.