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Letters to the Editor

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The Philippine Star

True to its laughable pretense that there are no non-readers in high school despite strong evidence to the contrary, the Department of Education (DepEd) never refers to the need to identify and belatedly teach reading laggards to read in its preparations for the 2022 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).

Had our 2018 PISA batch not been dragged down by the performance of non-readers and struggling readers, we could have easily avoided the cellar, with the fact that the Dominican Republic only edged us by 2 points in Reading Literacy.

With the DepEd’s denialist stance preventing any honest to goodness action against the non-reader problem, for certain, our examinee-contingent to the 2022 PISA will have more non-readers and struggling readers than there were in the 2018 PISA.

My suggestion is to surface these students immediately now and make them undergo a reading crash course with those unable to learn to read disallowed from sitting in the assessment.

This suggestion is anchored on the fact that there is no justification whatsoever under the sun for any student to be in high school if he cannot read. In fact, under current DepEd policies, there should be nobody who cannot read in Grade 4, thus it is only DepEd hocus-pocus, which allows non-readers to populate the higher grades. Consider these:

• The K-12 curriculum assigns the learning of reading competency to Grades 1 to 3.

• The Every Child a Reader Program (ECARP) prohibits the promotion of a pupil who has not mastered the basic literacy skills to Grade 4 (DepEd Memorandum No. 324, series of 2004).

DepEd Memorandum No. 173, series of 2019, which launched the organization-wide “Bawat Bata Bumabasa” reading literacy campaign of the DepEd, which supposedly addresses the reading crisis, states that it will strengthen the ECARP, thus the DepEd has no reason whatsoever not to enforce the reading cut off.

• “The Sulong EduKalidad” education reform initiative of the DepEd ensures that, by Grade 3, each learner will be a reader (Philippines chapter, “2019 TIMSS Encyclopedia”).

Needless to say, the presence of non-readers in high school is repugnant to the Constitution and the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 that declare, respectively:

• “The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible at all.” (Article 14, Section 1, Philippine 1987 Constitution)

• “Give every student an opportunity to receive quality education that is globally competitive based on a pedagogically sound curriculum that is at par with international standards.” (Section 2 (a), Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013)

Given the fact that English is our primary medium of instruction and local and international test language, any reasonable interpretation of the above-stated provisions of law would mean that our school children should be reading in English in Grade 1 but in reality, we have public high school students who cannot read in any language.

All students eligible for the 2022 PISA will be given spelling tests using the simplest English words, and those exposed as non-readers and frustration level readers will be made to undergo a reading crash course. At the end of the course, those who still won’t be able to passably read will be remanded to Grade 3 pursuant to existing policies and those who pass will be allowed to take the PISA.

To ensure integrity in the results of the process, an independent and reputable third party will conduct both the pre- and post-test and release the results. In no way should the procedure involve the DepEd because the precise reason we have the reading crisis is the agency’s appalling lack of honesty and seriousness in the implementation of its existing reading policies. – Estanislao C. Albano, Jr. casigayan@yahoo.com

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
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