Improving our student ratings

VERBAL VARIETY - Annie Perez - The Freeman

I was sort of glad that Vice President Sara Duterte Carpio paid a visit to Cebu during the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. We were told she was to give out gifts to select beneficiaries. I found that as an opportunity to finally ask her thoughts about the country's ratings in the Program for International Student Assessment. The Philippines ranked 77th out of 81, the very bottom of the list. Apparently, we lacked learning competencies in math, science, and reading.

This was in case she granted an interview. However, she eluded the members of the media who were patiently waiting for her. We left the venue in a hurry, not even looking back at those who traveled all the way to Naga City just to cover her activity. There is really no definite answer as to what is inside her head as the Education secretary, but we hope that these are filled with solutions to their perennial program of low ratings.

In a simple survey to friends who are educators in the Department, they said teaching today is extremely challenging. Teachers have a ton of responsibility on top of their teaching assignments which include administrative roles, coaches, and other extracurricular activities. They do all these on top of parenting their students in school. When they go home, they bring with them reports that need to be done while balancing their family life.

Accordingly, the pay they receive is not in consonance with the amount of work they put in. They also have to deal with dilapidated facilities and obsolete resources. Others are even controversial, allegedly bought higher than its market price. Truth be told, the department is in a limbo as it continues to face multiple issues while trying to fix problem after problem. Most stories are just untold but the everyday teaching in our public schools is not an easy journey.

In the same manner, it is also very easy to spew possible solutions to solve our literacy problems. In fact, the department has created stellar modules and curriculum guidelines intended to hit core competencies of our learning. However, these are all ideal and superficial. It is possible that those manning the department have no idea how the daily operations actually work.

There must be a thorough overall education system. This encompasses curriculum, learning resources, and management systems. Redundant positions should be eliminated and teachers must be unloaded of the responsibilities that are assigned to them. It is key to look into best practices of other countries within our region whose performances are doing quite well.

I believe it is not too late for the Philippines to redeem itself in the PISA rankings or anywhere else. There is still room for improvement should everyone involved in this sector also participate. The level of education in a country is reflective of the kind of people it has. We can still change the way the world looks at us, one policy at a time.

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