EDITORIAL – Not academically proficient

The Philippine Star

January 31, 2023 | 12:00am

The problems besetting the various aspects of Philippine education were enumerated yesterday. Attending the release yesterday of the Basic Education Report or BER 2023 prepared by the Department of Education, President Marcos committed to boost education infrastructure as well as upskilling programs for teachers. He made the commitment as Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte said “Filipino learners are not academically proficient” and many of them “may fail to meet the standards of the demanding and competitive world.”

The Vice President, who delivered the education report, identified inadequate school infrastructure and resources “to support the ideal teaching process” as the most pressing problem. Duterte also noted the “weak teaching methods… in addressing 21st century skills.”

Basic education learners, meanwhile, cannot understand mathematics problems or comprehend text of moderate length. The Vice President said there are also learners who suffer from emotional abuse, exhaustion and psychological fatigue.

Duterte also cited “cracks” in DepEd procurement processes including the lack of transparency and accountability – problems that dogged the procurement of laptops for teachers’ use during the COVID pandemic lockdowns.

The curriculum under the K-12 program, meanwhile, will be tweaked as it has failed to deliver on its promise of producing students who are employable upon finishing basic education, she said. BER 2023 showed that the majority of senior high school graduates still find it necessary to pursue higher education to obtain gainful employment.

The lack of classrooms has been a problem for many decades. Despite a continuing program to build more schools and classrooms, the infrastructure expansion cannot keep up with the booming student population.

Even before the pandemic, international studies have also shown that Filipino 10-year-old students rate poorly in mathematics and reading comprehension. The basic education curriculum has been revised in the past years to put more emphasis on the teaching of the sciences, mathematics and English proficiency. Yet the BER 2023 shows that more must be done.

The exodus of teachers slowed down as pay and benefits were improved, and there has been a continuing government program to hire more educators. But the country continues to suffer from a lack of qualified teachers. The hybrid learning mode employed during the pandemic lockdowns highlighted the inadequacies of teaching skills especially in the use of digital technology for education.

With the problems identified, they must now be confronted with greater commitment, effort and resources. Education is supposed to narrow social inequalities and open opportunities for advancement in life across income classes. This can still be achieved.

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