Government urged to boost learners’ reading proficiency

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
Government urged to boost learnersâ reading proficiency
Grade 1 student of St Mary Elementary school in Marikina City during face to face class (June 20, 2022).
Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — The government should prioritize programs and interventions that would improve Filipino learners’ proficiency in reading, amid the celebration of National Book Week from Nov. 24 to 30, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said.

The senator recalled that even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, international large-scale assessments showed that the country’s learners were already struggling to meet the minimum required proficiency in reading.

“Reading is one of the foundations that we must strengthen in our youth and students. Now we need to focus more on their reading, especially since the pandemic has worsened the problem in our education sector,” said Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate committee on basic education, in Filipino.

In the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the Philippines scored lowest in Reading out of 79 countries that participated. Results of the PISA further showed that only one out of five Filipino learners aged 15 achieved at least the minimum proficiency level in Overall Reading Literacy.

Results of the 2019 Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics, on the other hand, showed that only 10 percent of the country’s Grade 5 learners achieved the minimum proficiency at the end of primary education.

The World Bank also estimated that as of June 2022, learning poverty in the Philippines is 90.9 percent. Learning poverty is defined as the percentage of ten-year-old children who cannot read or understand a simple story.

Gatchalian also pointed out that the lack of face-to-face classes during the pandemic has resulted in learning loss.

To address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gatchalian filed Senate Bill No. 150 or the Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning (ARAL) Act, which seeks to institute a nationwide learning recovery program that will include well-systematized tutorial sessions and well-designed remediation plans.

The proposed ARAL Program will also prioritize Reading to develop the critical and analytical thinking skills of learners.

Gatchalian is also proposing to officially declare November as National Reading Month. In Senate Bill No. 475, Gatchalian proposed that National Reading Month be celebrated through the conduct of nationwide reading programs and activities, which will inculcate a culture of reading among basic education learners and their communities.


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