World bank apologizes to Philippine government for education report

Louise Maureen Simeon, Rainier Allan Ronda - The Philippine Star
World bank apologizes to Philippine government for education report
Clarissa Gallos, a mother of six, helps her children prepare their modules scheduled for return to their respective schools on the last day of classes yesterday. Gallos, who lives in a shanty in Malabon, says her children struggle with distance learning as they have to share one tablet
Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The World Bank (WB) issued on Thursday what amounted to a public apology as demanded by Education Secretary Leonor Briones over the early and uncoordinated release of its education sector report which rated poorly the quality of learning in the country.

“We deeply regret that the report on education was inadvertently published earlier than scheduled and before the Department of Education had enough chance to provide inputs,” the WB said in a statement posted on its website.

“This was an oversight on our part, and we conveyed our personal apologies in our communication with the government,” WB added.?The report was also taken down from the World Bank website.

But the Washington-based multilateral lender did not retract the findings of its report that irked government officials, especially the Departments of Education (DepEd) and of Finance (DOF).?Both the DepEd and DOF claimed the report was “outdated.”?Earlier this week, Briones said the World Bank should issue a public apology for its improper release of a report declaring the poor quality of education in the country to media, having done so without first informing the government.

Briones lamented that the WB had used old data to buttress its finding of the poor state of education in the country as well embarrassing results of the Progam on International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2018 that was presented in 2019, which had already been much discussed and evaluated and explained.

Briones said that there have already been many developments and reforms made in the aftermath of the release of the 2018 PISA assessment results in 2019.

In its website, the WB said: “We are aware of the Department’s various efforts and programs to address the challenge of education quality. We agree with the Department that the issue of quality has a long historical context, and support its demonstrated commitment to resolve it decisively.”

“We have reached out to Secretary Briones on this matter and look forward to continuing our dialogue with the Department of Education on the opportunities and challenges in the education sector,” it added.?Briones had stressed that the improper release of the World Bank report came at a time when it was negotiating two multibillion-peso loan offers with the DepEd – one worth $100 million and another amounting to $110 million which she has not yet signed.?The DepEd secretary even quipped that the WB was an active player in the country’s public education sector as a financier of educational programs since the 1980s and, as such, had been a party to the country’s state of education.?“I was sent a letter, so it’s a personal apology. But I’m not the one being hit in this (report). It’s the country taking the hit,” Briones said when she demanded the WB to issue a public apology.?Based on its project updates, the World Bank is expected to approve $110 million out of the $120-million Teacher Effectiveness and Competencies Enhancement Project to improve the quality of and equitable access to teaching in Kindergarten to Grade 6 in project-supported regions.

Another $100 million will be provided to strengthen the alternative learning system in the country.

The two projects are part of the $1.84 billion that the Philippines is borrowing from the World Bank this year to finance nine projects in the country particularly on agriculture, education, tourism and flood mitigation.

As of February, the World Bank’s active portfolio in the Philippines consists of 16 operations with net commitments of $5.62 billion.


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