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Education laggards

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After the dismal showing of the country’s education system in the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) that ranked Filipino students as among the world’s weakest in math, reading and science, the embarrassed Department of Education undertook a series of reforms and preparations meant to improve the situation.

However, despite all that effort by the DepEd, just less than a quarter of the country’s students who took the test in 2022 reached the minimum level of proficiency in the same three subjects, according to recently released PISA test results.

Similar to 2018, the latest PISA scores show the Philippines performed worse than the global average in all categories, with its placement in the country rankings moving up by just a few spots above countries that dropped ranks due to the pandemic’s impacts on student learning.

PISA, which is conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), has been evaluating the literacy of 15-year-olds every three years since 2000. The latest cycle, which involved 81 countries, was postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The test is designed to evaluate the literacy of 15-year-olds as this is typically the age at which most students are still enrolled in formal education.

The results of PISA 2022 is one of the first to capture the impact of the pandemic on education systems and OECD noted a drastic decline in student performance across nations. The Philippine educational system is among the hardest hit by the pandemic, with prolonged school closures naturally resulting in massive learning losses.

Compared to 81 countries, the Philippines now ranks 6th lowest in mathematics and reading, and 3rd lowest in reading. If it’s any consolation, this is ever so slightly higher than our famously low 2018 cycle results, when Filipino students ranked lowest in reading comprehension and second-lowest in mathematics and science.

If the PISA 2022 results are any indication, the Department of Education definitely needs to do more to elevate the quality and state of education in this country and produce graduates that can compete with their peers. With or without intelligence funds, we cannot afford to have an entire generation of Filipinos who are laggards when it comes to basics like reading, mathematics, and science.*

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