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Briones wants apology from World Bank over unflattering schools report

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
Briones wants apology from World Bank over unflattering schools report
This undated file photo shows Education Secretary Leonor Briones
Presidential photo

MANILA, Philippines — Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Monday sought a public apology from the World Bank, saying the Philippines was "insulted" and "shamed" by a report on Filipino students not meeting learning standards.

According to the World Bank, more than 80% of students in the Philippines do not meet the standards expected for their grade level.  It also described a crisis in Philippine education "which started pre-COVID but will have been made worse" by the pandemic. 

It also said said students' poor performance was deeply rooted in limited proficiency in languages. It added that there is an "unacceptably poor school climate, with high levels of bullying."

The findings were based on three global assessments from 2018 to 2019, which all showed the Philippines performing poorly.

Briones said the World Bank based their report on old data, such as from the Programme for International Student Assessment that showed in 2019 that Filipinos ranked poorly in reading, mathematics and science. 

"The country was insulted [and] shamed," she said at a Palace briefing. "We expect and look forward to a public apology."

Apart from that, Briones added that the World Bank failed to follow protocol when it did not inform the Department of Education of their report. 

It was not immediately clear on who sets that protocol, and if the World Bank or international organizations are obliged to follow it. 

"If you will report about a country, they have to know what you will be releasing about them," she said in Filipino. "But there was no word and it came out first in the media."

The education chief said the World Bank has been a partner of the Philippines since the 1980s through millions of dollars in loan. Borrowed funds, she said, have stood at $300 million over the past four decades.

Negotiations are also underway for another $110 million to enhance Filipino teachers' capacity, and $100 million more for DepEd's Alternative Learning System.

Briones in the same briefing said the World Bank has sent her an apology. To which, she said: "But it was not me who got hurt from this but the country and the public."

Classes in the Philippines, which were held remotely this year, officially end on July 10. Education advocacy groups have warned that difficulties under the setup due to COVID-19 are hampering students' learning experience and taking a toll on their wellbeing.
 

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION FILIPINO STUDENTS LEONOR BRIONES WORLD BANK
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