Duterte accepts apology from World Bank

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star
Duterte accepts apology from World Bank
“I would not want to begrudge the World Bank. International bodies working on the problems of the world should be very careful in their statistics. It is not good to commit a wrong internationally. But we welcome their apology,” Duterte said during his weekly public address on Monday night.
Noel Celis / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has accepted the apology of the World Bank (WB) over reports indicating the poor performance of Filipino students.

“I would not want to begrudge the World Bank. International bodies working on the problems of the world should be very careful in their statistics. It is not good to commit a wrong internationally. But we welcome their apology,” Duterte said during his weekly public address on Monday night.

The World Bank earlier reported that 80 percent of Filipino children do not have the essential math and reading skills that they should have based on their academic level.

“The World Bank said they deeply regret the report, which was inadvertently published even before the Department of Education (DepEd) could have the chance to provide inputs,” Duterte said.

He said the DepEd is focusing on a new set of data that would be presented to the financial institution so it can amend its statistics and data inputs.

Duterte commended Education Sec. Leonor Briones for handling the DepEd portfolio properly during the present administration.

“For the sake of transparency and policy direction, we would like to know the latest assessment matrix of student performance and achievement as well as the latest national data and figures in terms of learning outcomes, especially during the pandemic so we can identify which gaps need to be addressed,” he said.

The World Bank report was based on three assessments that the Philippines previously participated in.

These assessments are the programs for international student Assessment in 2018, trends in international mathematics and science study in 2019 and the Southeast Asia primary learning metrics also in 2019.

Briones called the attention of the World Bank, saying the report insulted and shamed the Philippines.

Duterte said budgetary constraints prevented the country from improving on all facets of governance, promising to continue working to boost the country’s economy.

Duterte expressed hope the next administration would be more competent so it can address the current challenges.

Sim cards for teachers

A week after the end of classes, DepEd started the distribution of sim cards with connectivity load for one million teaching and non-teaching personnel across the country.

The initiative, which was funded under the Bayanihan 2 law, will provide eligible DepEd personnel with a total of 100 gigabyte (GB) data allocation for the next three months, consumable for one year.

“This is part of our commitment to deliver the promises of the Bayanihan 2 Act. Through the support of our President, our lawmakers and our field offices, DepEd has ensured that our personnel and teachers can efficiently provide basic education services to our learners despite the situation,” Briones said.

DepEd Undersecretary for administration Alain del Pascua said permanent, contractual and local government unit-paid personnel working under DepEd schools and offices are eligible to receive sim cards, which were procured from telecommunications company Smart.

The project had an original budget of P1.2 billion, although the final cost following the bidding was only P1.048 billion. The savings were returned to the national treasury.

All sim cards will be activated with an initial 34GB load.

DepEd said the sim cards must be released by issuing authorities by July 23.

Those that will not be distributed by the end of the month have to be returned to the division or regional supply officers for proper accounting.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers earlier lamented the delayed release of the data allocation, noting that the school year ended last July 10.

Explaining why they opted for the data allocation instead of releasing a monthly internet allowance for teachers, DepEd Undersecretary for finance Annalyn Sevilla said they have yet to receive a clearance from the Department of Budget and Management and the Commission on Audit to release the said benefit.

Meanwhile, DepEd-Central Luzon is scouting for pilot schools for the possibility of conducting limited face-to-face classes.

Education officials said the COVID-19 vaccination is a key component for the resumption of face-to-face classes.

DepEd regional director May Eclar said they have plans and are conducting studies for face-to-face classes so they are prepared once they are given the green light to resume such.

Records show the region has 9,086 teachers that are fully vaccinated and 1,863 have received their first dose as of July 2.

Eclar urged teachers to get vaccinated now that the vaccine prioritization for teaching and non-teaching personnel has been adjusted from category B1 to A4.

“The vaccination for teaching and non-teaching staff is already ongoing. We consider vaccinated personnel in our criteria for our limited face-to-face classes. Many of our students really want to go back to the classroom, that is why we encourage our teachers to get vaccinated,” Eclar said.

DepEd is also expecting a surge in the number of enrollees for school year 2021-2022.

“Based on our records, the number of our enrollees did not decline despite the pandemic. What we have seen is that there is a decrease in the number of enrollees in private schools as many closed temporarily and their students moved to public schools,” Eclar said.

She said 60 percent of the basic education schools in the region are offering modular learning through purely printed modules and 40 percent adapted the blended scheme, which is a combination of modular, digital, radio- and television-based learning. – Janvic Mateo, Ramon Efren Lazaro

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