World Bank findings still key to addressing PH education 'crisis' – Gatchalian

Published July 14, 2021, 2:02 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Even as the World Bank already apologized for inadvertantly releasing a report on the poor learning outcomes of Filipino children, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian believed that the government should be open to accepting its findings to address what he also considered a “crisis” in the Philippines’ education system.

Children share a tablet to listen to their online class. The Philippines has been implementing blended learning program as schools remain closed since last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (MANNY LLANES/MANILA BULLETIN)

“Whilst we recognize the apology of the World Bank because of violations in protocols, the fact still remains: We are in an education crisis and we need to find solutions immediately,” Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, said in a text message on Wednesday, July 14.

He said the World Bank’s report has “numerous insights and recommendations that we can use to develop solutions to improve learner outcomes.”

“I have personally read the report and appreciated their impartial analysis on which aspect of our education system needs focus,” the senator added.

Gatchalian also agreed that it is high time for the government to admit that the country is in an “education crisis”, which Vice President Leni Robredo had asked to be declared following the World Bank report.

“As early as 2020, Senate basic education committee had already declared that the country is in an education crisis,” he said, citing the country’s “poor showing” in the 2018 Program for International Student Assessement (PISA), as well as in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) and the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) in 2019.

“The declaration was the easy part. What is most important are the solutions to lift us out of the crisis,” Gatchalian said. “We need solutions. And we need it immediately for the sake of our learners.”

The World Bank said in its report, among others, that 80 percent of Filipino students “do not know what they should know.” It also noted that the “poor performance” of learners was “deeply rooted” in their “limited proficiency in the languages” used in schools.

The Department of Education (DepEd), however, was “insulted” with the report and demanded a public apology.

DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said it did not include “new developments” to education reform efforts undertaken by the government since the PISA results.

Briones also rejected Robredo’s appeal, questioning her basis for thinking that the Philippines’ education system is in crisis.