Teachers’ groups call for reform in education system

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star
Teachers� groups call for reform in education system
Students of the Marikina Elementary School in Marikina City attend a two-hour class orientation before the formal school opening on August 23, 2023.
STAR / Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — Teachers groups Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and the Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) have called for a “comprehensive reform” in the basic education system following two recent studies showing, respectively, that Filipino students were lagging behind their Asian peers in terms of critical thinking and that days for learning were lost due to teachers’ administrative tasks and suspension of classes.

“This disheartening outcome, which adds to the country’s dismal performance in recent assessments in academic subjects, is not just an isolated issue but a manifestation of much deeper and systemic problems in our education sector. Our students’ poor performance in creative thinking highlights the chronic neglect of basic educational needs in our public schools,” the TDC said in a statement.

The group was referring to a recent study of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) showing that Filipino students were struggling with creative thinking skills, placing the Philippines at the bottom four of 64 participating countries.

The PISA defines creative thinking as the ability to “engage productively in the generation, evaluation and improvement of ideas that can result in original and effective solutions, advances in knowledge and impactful expressions of imagination.”

With a mean score of 14.2, the 15-year-old Filipino junior high school students were deemed to have one of the weakest creative thinking skills globally.

PISA, developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), said the average score points was 33. Singapore scored the highest among 64 countries with a mean score of 41.

An earlier PISA study also showed that the Philippines was still in the bottom ten, specifically at 76th out of 81 countries, in terms of Filipino 15-year-old students’ competencies in reading comprehension, mathematics and science.

The TDC said these adverse assessment findings of PISA were mainly due to the government’s years of “chronic neglect” of the pressing problems besetting the education sector.

“Our classroom situations are dire, characterized by inadequate school facilities, a lack of essential instructional materials and insufficient numbers of teaching and non-teaching personnel,” the TDC said.

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