MANILA (UPDATE) - The Department of Education on Friday said it was taking as "a challenge" a report showing that majority of Filipino students fall below minimum proficiency levels.
In a Teleradyo interview, Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan noted that they welcome the report and accept it as a challenge.
"Tinatanggap natin as a challenge at hamon itong nakita sa resulta na medyo malayo tayo," he said. "Nasa baba tayo kung titingnan natin ang sukatan ng mga literacies from international standards."
(We accept this as a challenge from what we saw in the results that we are far. We are in the bottom if we measure literacies from international standards.)
Malacañang earlier described the report as "disturbing and alarming."
He, however, criticized the World Bank over its handling of the report, saying the Washington-based lender did not give the agency an advance copy or an opportunity to look into the study before it was released to the media.
"And there's no acknowledgement in this study 'yong ating mga reform initiatives na ginagawa na sa Department of Education na may direct knowledge naman sila," he said.
(And there's no acknowledgement in this study about the reform initiatives we are doing in the Department of Education, which they have direct knowledge of.)
Malaluan also said the World Bank report "lacks acknowledgement that the challenge in the quality of education is a product of historical development."
"And World Bank is actually a key participant in the historical development with lending in major reform programs in education," he said.
He added, "We are as much a partner in addressing the challenge of the quality of education and we hope they will also acknowledge the things that are already being done."
According to the report, around 80 percent of Filipino students fall below the minimum level of proficiency for their grade levels.
The Philippines was rated last in reading, and second to last in science and mathematics, among 79 countries that participated in the Program for International Student Assessment.
In the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study in 2019, the country placed last in both mathematics and science among 58 countries in the fourth-grade assessment.
The Philippines was also in the bottom half of the 6 countries in reading, mathematics and writing literacy in the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics in 2019.
The World Bank has yet to comment on DepEd's comments.
For a group of teachers, the report only highlights DepEd's failure of addressing the long-term issue of improving the country's quality of basic education.
Alliance of Concerned Teachers secretary-general Raymond Basilio said the agency also has yet to address overcrowded classrooms and shortage of learning materials.
"Talagang nagma-manifest 'yong kawalan ng kahandaan, walang sapat na rekurso na available ang departmento... ang resulta nito, mangungulilat tayo," ACT secretary-general Raymond Basilio.
(The lack of preparation and proper recourse available in the department have manifested... The result is we tanked.)
To improve the comprehension of students, especially in science and math, he said the medium of instruction should be based on what students were familiar with.
"Ituro ang mga subjects sa lengguwahe na alam ng bata," he said.
(Teach it in a language that children know best.)