EDITORIAL - Poor performance

EDITORIAL - Poor performance

(The Philippine Star) - December 6, 2019 - 12:00am

School curricula have been redesigned for greater emphasis on mathematics and the sciences. Yet the latest Program for International Student Assessment or PISA showed Filipino 15-year-olds in ninth grade scoring near the bottom not only in math and science but also in reading.

PISA, administered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, was launched in 2000. Countries must request for inclusion in the test. This is the first time that the Philippines has sought inclusion, to assess the capabilities of Filipino students. The results have been dismal although, according to education officials, not unexpected: of 79 countries in the PISA, the Philippines ranked the worst in terms of reading comprehension and 78th in mathematics and science.

Education officials say they suspected that this could happen, based on the results of the National Achievement Test among senior high school. The NAT results were among the reasons why the government sought inclusion in the PISA.

Out of the dismal test outcome, something good must emerge. Education officials recognize the problem areas and stress that these are being addressed. Curricula in public schools are being redesigned and teachers are getting more skills upgrading and chances for increased pay and promotion.

Other government offices, however, must also step in. Students need an environment conducive to learning, including buildings that are sturdy enough to withstand the typhoons and earthquakes that hit the country regularly.

Policymakers must also consider proposals to increase funding for education. The top performers in PISA are students from countries that allocate a much higher percentage of gross domestic product to education than the Philippines. Public investment in education is a critical factor in national competitiveness, innovation and economic progress.

Civil society also plays a role in encouraging youths’ interest in reading, math and the sciences, in improving English proficiency – the language in which the PISA was administered to Filipino students – and in encouraging analytical thinking rather than rote learning.

The PISA results indicate a national problem. Addressing it will require a concerted national effort.

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