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Health And Family

How do Filipino students rate in reading?

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MANILA, Philippines - It can be safely said that reading is the true backbone of most learning. After all, everything starts with the written word — whether it’s math, science or even home economics. As students go up the educational ladder, more reading is usually required as subjects become more dense and challenging. The difficulty level simply increases — not the other way around.

Hence, if a student’s reading comprehension is poor, chances are his/her performance in other subjects will be compromised. Given that, just how do students in the country rate in reading? A look at the National Achievement Tests (NAT) administered to public schools can shed some light. The DepEd reports that there has been a 21.36 percent increase in NAT results from 2006 to 2009. The 2009 NAT revealed a rise in Mean Percentage Score (MPS) of only 66.33 percent from 54.66 percent in 2006, which equates to an improvement of 11.67%. The percentage gains were in all subject areas and pointed to a steady improvement in the primary education of the country’s public school system.

So what does this progress say about the reading skills of the country’s students? It certainly speaks of a forward movement but a 66.33 MPS (from 54.66 in 2006) is still a rather low score, which, in fact, is only at the “near mastery level.” What’s more alarming is mastery is only at 14.4% among grade 6 students and 1.1% with 4th year high school students, which means below mastery scores are a staggering 85.6% among the former and 98.1% among the latter.

What could be the reason for such “below mastery levels”? In a 2007 interview, Dr. Yolanda Quijano, head of the DepEd’s Bureau of Elementary Education, attributed “reading problems as the main culprit for the poor performance of some students in the NAT.”

So, how does one increase his/her reading skills to ensure their academic progress is not hampered? There are certainly many methods but as any erudite and well-read person will recommend, nothing beats simply reading a lot at the earliest possible age.

In the current Philippine public school curricula for elementary and high school, reading (pagbasa), however, is just part of three other subjects — listening (pakikinig), speaking (pagsasalita) and writing (pagsusulat) — under English and Filipino.

Moreover, the two subjects have to fit in all four learning components into one class session. With the progressive reduction of class minutes, along with the fact that reading and pagbasa are combined with other subjects in one session, students will certainly have less time to devote to improving reading comprehension. This seems to go contrary to the notion that more practice (hence, time) is needed to achieve mastery. Any expert or specialist will surely have logged in extensive hours to reach their coveted level. The same should be the case for something as important as reading comprehension.

A simple solution would be to isolate reading from the rest of the other subjects under English and Filipino and give it a decent amount of daily time. Doing so increases a student’s exposure to more books, which consequently means a wider breadth of knowledge. This also means schools will have to provide more books to ensure students are always given fresh material to read and enjoy. Once done, reading then becomes inculcated early on, and from simply being a “subject” in school, it can develop into a lifetime habit, which means students become lifetime (self) learners.

BUREAU OF ELEMENTARY EDUCATION

DR. YOLANDA QUIJANO

ENGLISH AND FILIPINO

MASTERY

MEAN PERCENTAGE SCORE

NATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT TESTS

READING

SCHOOL

STUDENTS

SUBJECTS

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