World Bank 'deeply regrets' hasty release of Philippine education status report

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 09 2021 04:02 PM | Updated as of Jul 09 2021 06:55 PM

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MANILA (UPDATE) - The World Bank on Friday apologized for "inadvertently" publishing a controversial report on the status of Philippine education earlier than scheduled and before the Department of Education could provide inputs. 

“We deeply regret that the report on education was inadvertently published earlier than scheduled and before the Department of Education had enough chance to provide inputs," the World Bank said in a statement.

"This was an oversight on our part, and we conveyed our personal apologies in our communication with the government," it added. 

The study called Improving Student Learning Outcomes and Well-Being in the Philippines: What Are International Assessments Telling Us? (Vol.2): Synthesis Report Presentation” claimed that 80 percent of of Filipino students fall below the minimum level of proficiency for their grade levels. 

The multilateral lender also recognized DepEd's efforts "to address the challenge of education quality."

"We agree with the Department that the issue of quality has a long historical context, and support its demonstrated commitment to resolve it decisively," it said.

The report published on June 29 was criticized by DepEd for using outdated information. Education Secretary Leonor Briones earlier demanded a public apology. 

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Thursday backed Briones' call for an apology. Dominguez said the World Bank should "observe responsible reporting and adhere to the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct" moving forward.

The report has now been removed from the World Bank's website. 

DEPED ACCEPTS APOLOGY 

In a statement Friday afternoon, DepEd said it "acknowledges" World Bank's apology.

The agency said it hoped that the financial organization likewise affirmed its efforts in improving the country's education sector. 

"More than admitting to their oversight, we hope the WB statement has clearly reiterated the commitment of and concrete steps being taken by the Department, together with our partners, to resolve century-old issues plaguing the Philippine education system," the statement read.

The World Bank is a crucial partner of the Philippines in terms of project backing, including its contribution to the Philippines' COVID-19 war chest.

— with a report from Bruce Rodriguez, ABS-CBN News