Last week, the World Bank released a report on Philippine education that analyzed the results of international student assessments, including the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) that showed the country ranked second lowest out of 79 countries in both mathematical and scientific literacy.
The report also cited results of the 2019 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study which found that Filipino Grade 4 pupils ranked last among 58 countries in math and science. Furthermore, the study detailed that 80 percent of Filipino students “do not know what they should know” for their level and flagged a crisis in Philippine education which was made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In response to the damning report, the Department of Education demanded an apology from the WB for not following the proper protocol in releasing its report. Education Secretary Leonor Briones pointed out the report was released to the media before informing the DepEd about its content, that she claimed was a “grave error” that “insulted and shamed” the country.
Briones gave many criticisms and excuses for her department’s poor performance in the WB report card that pitted the country against its peers. She explained that the DepEd was addressing the challenge of quality in basic education through its reform initiatives that were not mentioned in the report.
The dismal ranking of Philippine education in the WB report is, indeed, insulting and shameful and instead of demanding an apology from the assessor and the bearer of bad news, it would be more fitting for the DepEd to apologize to the Filipino people for earning such a low grade and then promise to turn the situation around post-haste.
Briones may be right to throw a tantrum if the WB report did judge the Philippines unfairly but a genuine and hardworking educator would be confident that the results of their efforts would show in the next grading period.
Hopefully, the DepEd and the country’s educational system do better after this wake-up call.*