After DepEd got an apology, group asks: ‘Now what?’

Published July 14, 2021, 11:12 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Even after the Philippine government – as demanded by the Department of Education (DepEd) – got the apology it wanted from the World Bank (WB), a group maintained that the state of Philippine education remains in crisis.


“The Philippine government got what it wanted, but the question on the poor quality of Philippine education that yielded such results remained unanswered, if not completely denied,” the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines said Wednesday, July 14.

In the last few days, the DepEd found itself in hot waters after the WB released its findings that 80 percent of Filipino students do not have the minimum proficiency required for their respective year level.

The synthesis report was based on the results three international assessments in which the Philippines participated: the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2018; the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 2019; and the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) also in 2019.

After receiving backlash for the result of the said report, DepEd – backed by the rest of the Duterte administration – demanded an apology from WB for supposedly breaking protocol.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that the WB inadvertently inflicted harm on DepEd and the country by releasing an “outdated” report.

The WB issued an apology to the government for accidentally releasing the said study without getting inputs from DepEd.


How an 80-year-old DepEd Secretary demanded an apology from a global institution — and got it

DepEd “acknowledged” WB’s oversight but maintained that it should clearly reiterate the “commitment of and concrete steps being taken” by the DepEd to “resolve century-old issues plaguing the Philippine education system.”

However, for ACT, the Philippine education has been in crisis for decades now. “The Philippine education system is in crisis, and it always has been due to its colonial, commercialized, and repressive character,” the group said.

ACT added that the country’s poor performance in these tests “stems from decades of unabated crisis in education due to its colonial, commercialized, and repressive character, that only grew worse through the years.” The group also pointed out that the deteriorating quality of education is also a result of “decreasing state support to education.”

Declare ‘education crisis’ now

Meanwhile, ACT agreed that the Philippine government should acknowledge that “education, is in fact, in crisis” as also pointed out by Vice President Leni Robredo over the weekend.

ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said that Robredo’s remarks about the state of education are “well-grounded” – thus, the President and the DepEd should consider her call for actions and solutions.

“DepEd should learn to better appreciate criticisms as crucial in bettering the quality of education, and should use these as starting points in demanding better support from the national government,” Basilio said.

Meanwhile, Basilio noted that the government should approach the WB report as a “starting point” in identifying the weaknesses of Philippine education at present and figure out how to address these.

The group said that the “crisis in education” existed even before the pandemic but exponentially worsened when the health and economic crises hit last year.

Given this, ACT called on DepEd to utilize the next few weeks before classes resume to take a “long hard look” at its programs and policies, identify its weaknesses, and aggressively address them.

“If they will genuinely partake in such, we believe that we can be partners in demanding better support from the national government and in reorienting education to be better suited to the needs of our people and to serve our development as a nation,” Basilio added.