Gov’t urged to address PH ‘learning crisis’

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 05 2021 12:15 PM | Updated as of Jan 05 2021 12:36 PM

Rachel Senolos assists her two sons, Grade 5 student Billy John Salvane and Grade 2 student Neil John Salvane, in their online classes on October 5, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA – A non-government organization (NGO) advocating for education reforms has called on government to address the “learning crisis” in the country after Filipino students performed poorly in recent international assessments.

“If the success of a society is measured by how well it invests in its children, then the Philippines is failing,” the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) said in a statement issued Monday.

In December, results of the 2019 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study showed that Grade 4 Filipino students scored the lowest among 58 countries in mathematics and science literacy.

Grade 5 Filipino students also performed poorly in reading, writing and mathematics compared to peers in 5 neighboring countries, according to the 2019 Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics.

PBEd also noted that it has not seen a clear plan from government to bring students back to schools safely, adding that prolonged school closures would worsen learning losses, especially for the millions of learners that failed to enroll this academic year.

Government was supposed to conduct a dry run of limited in-person classes in areas with low risk of COVID-19 transmission this month, but President Rodrigo Duterte cancelled it due to fears over a new variant of the virus.

The group urged Congress to convene the education commission to “draw up urgent, systemic, decisive, and targeted reforms in our education system.”

PBEd added that the education commission should consult with the private sector, civil society and top educational institutions to address the learning crisis.

“Stemming the learning crisis is a gargantuan task and requires leadership and bayanihan. The government must take the lead in building an education system that Filipino learners deserve – one that realizes their full potential,” the group said.

This year, the country’s education system shifted from in-person classes to distance learning to avoid exposing students and school personnel to the risk of getting COVID-19.

Some 25 million learners registered for public and private schools and in the Alternative Learning System this year, according to data from the Department of Education. Around 2 million learners dropped out.

The DepEd earlier said the country’s participation in international learning assessment aimed to address gaps in the basic education curriculum.

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