A global survey conducted by London-based global education platform T4 Education has found that schoolchildren form the Philippines’ poorest households have been hit hardest by the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic as they suffer more in terms of “learning loss” compared to those in other countries due to weak internet connections and other technological constraints.
The survey found that 72 percent of teachers in the Philippines had observed learning loss among children from impoverished families during the pandemic. This is significantly higher than the global average of 56 percent who reported that poor economic status was a key factor behind academic setbacks.
Learning loss refers to a reversal in academic progress or loss of knowledge and skills due to the disruptions to a student’s way of life or educational system.
The prolonged lockdowns since the pandemic started in March 2020 has forced the closure of schools in the country. In response, the Department of Education implemented the blended distance learning system where students were provided with printed modules and access to digital learning platforms.
The T4 survey generated insights from 20,679 teachers across 165 countries, of which more than 7,000 were from the Philippines. It is so far the world’s largest international study on teachers and education.
When asked which among the groups of learners had experienced more learning loss, poverty emerged as the number 1 factor in the Philippines. The study also exposed the digital divide in the country, with 69 percent of teachers citing internet and technology constraints as another key factor, compared to the global average of 60 percent.
Learners whose parents or guardians have been unable to guide them in their lessons outside school also suffered learning loss, according to 56 percent of local teachers. Access to the internet and devices were also cited as common problems.
The results of the survey corroborate an earlier World Bank research that said 80 percent of students in the country had fallen below minimum levels of expected proficiency, indicating that learning loss had already been an issue even before the pandemic.
Despite being among the last remaining countries in the world to return to in-person classes, the Philippine model for education throughout the course of the pandemic has been nothing special. As a result, Filipino learners are on the losing end and will remain so until government decides to step up. How much more learning loss will the youth of the country have to endure?*