/ 7 December 2023

VICE President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte called for collective action to address the low scores of Filipino students in the latest Programme for International Student Assessment.

The 2022 PISA results showed that the average scores of Filipino students in reading, mathematics and science have not improved significantly compared to other countries.

The report stated that mean scores showed that Filipino students aged 15 years old garnered only 356 points in science, 347 in reading, and 355 in mathematics.

The mean score for math among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries was 472 points for mathematics, 476 in reading and, 485 in science.

Duterte termed the results as “uncomfortable truths” that should prod all stakeholders in the education sector to work hard to address the findings.

“This is a call to action, a call to our collective responsibility as a nation. We need every stakeholder to join us in this journey moving forward. We may approach the solution differently, but we all agree on the destination,” Duterte said.

“Everyone’s efforts are counted and everyone is accountable for our children’s future,” she added.

Despite the negative mark, Duterte said the DepEd under her watch is making progress in addressing learning issues among Filipino students to further improve the quality of basic education in the country.

She pointed to the Marcos administration’s effort to overhaul the K to 10 program under the aegis of its “Matatag Curriculum.”

“I call on everyone to pull our efforts together for a more resilient Matatag education system, an education system that aims to improve learning outcomes, prioritize student and teacher well-being, and promote accountability to close remaining disparities,” the DepEd chief said.

The Matatag curriculum is currently being pilot-tested in 35 schools in seven regions of the country.

Among the revisions in the K to 10 program include reducing the number of competencies and greater emphasis on the development of foundational skills such as literacy, numeracy, and socio-emotional skills for Kinder to Grade 3 learners.

The current curriculum has seven competencies namely Mother Tongue, Filipino, English, Mathematics, Araling Panlipunan, MAPEH, and Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao.

However, under the Matatag curriculum, there will be five competencies namely Language, Reading and Literacy, Mathematics, Makabansa, and Good Manners and Right Conduct.

Duterte also pointed to the “catch-up” day in schools to allow students to have time to read different books of their interest.

The “catch-up” day will be implemented every Friday starting on January 12, 2024.

During the catch-up Fridays, students from kindergarten to Grade 12 shall devote time to reading books and other reading materials based on their interests.

They will be later tasked by their teachers to write essays, analyses, and reviews of the books and other materials they have read.

Aside from these measures, Duterte also pointed to the role of teacher training institutions in educating teachers.

“Our schools and communities can contribute to creating a safe, inclusive, supportive, and connected school climate. We must act to bring back our school-aged children and prevent long-term absenteeism, protecting them from exploitation due to their socioeconomic conditions,” Duterte further said.

DepEd Undersecretary Gina Gonong for her part said she is confident the scores of Filipino students in the next Pisa assessment will improve due to the reform measures being implemented by DepEd.

“We’re hoping na slowly but surely magiging statistically significant yung increase ng scores natin,” Gonong said.

“But we need to work harder para naman magkaroon tayo ng improvement in terms of levels,” she added.

Gonong also put a positive spin on the latest Pisa results saying there was an increase in scores for Filipino students.

“Merong increase ng scores although sinasabi natin na hindi statistically significant pero good news na yun kasi di tayo bumaba nag increase ng scores in math and reading. Ang science ang bumaba ng one point but again statistically insignificant,” she added.

Gonong also said some Filipino students were able to achieve the minimum proficiency.

“There is 16 percent in mathematics, 24 percent in reading, 23 percent in science. But we have to work on the more than 75 percent of our students who are below the minimum level of proficiency in mathematics, science, and reading,” he added.

DepEd NCR Director Wilfredo Cabral also said they are looking into policy directions that will ensure the well-being of teachers

“We are starting to remove non-teacher tasks being assigned to them,” Cabral added.