Gatchalian calls for better learner performance in math, science to foster innovation

Published July 20, 2021, 10:30 AM

by Mario Casayuran

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday, July 20, pressed for the need to improve K to 12 learners’ proficiency in both math and science to promote innovation in the new normal and aid the Philippines’ post-pandemic recovery.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian during a special session in the Senate. (Henzberg Austria/Senate PRIB file)

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, said in a statement that “it is crucial to equip learners with strong foundational skills that would boost innovation,” which he said is important in boosting economic recovery and building resilience against future health threats like the COVID-19 pandemic.

He cited the results of the 2019 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) showing that among Grade 4 learners who were assessed, only 19 percent had some basic mathematical knowledge, while 13 percent showed limited understanding and knowledge of scientific concepts and foundational science facts.

Another study, the 2019 Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) also showed that among Grade 5 learners, only 17 percent developed the proficiency in mathematics to transition to secondary education.

The Philippines ranked second lowest in both math and science in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Gatchalian also lamented.

The senator said that while the Department of Education (DepEd) is currently streamlining its K to 12 curriculum, there is also a need to improve the quality of teachers and address issues hounding the “spiral progression approach” mandated in the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 (Republic Act No. 10533).

He said the spiral progression approach or the spiral curriculum exposes learners into a variety of topics and concepts which makes the curriculum crowded. For some, this concept is not conducive to teaching in depth or not helping students master the basic subjects, he noted.

During a workshop for teachers, Gatchalian said he learned that there were few or no teachers who were trained to teach all the branches or areas of a subject.

He again pushed for the passage of the Senate Bill 2152, or the Teacher Education Excellence Act, to improve the quality of teacher education and training in the country.

The bill seeks to revamp the Teacher Education Council (TEC) and improve the coordination among the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC). This will ensure the link and coherence between pre-service education and in-service education, and improve teacher education outcomes.