By: Shirley A. Cada


                What must be done? The result of the latest Program for International Student Assessment or PISA showed Filipino 15-year-olds in ninth grade scoring near the bottom not only in math and science but also in reading.

                On the other hand, Filipino students posted an even lower average mastery level in three subjects. PISA, administered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, was launched in 2000. Countries must request for inclusion in the test. This is the first time that the Philippines has sought inclusion. The results have been dismal although according to education officials, not unexpected : of 79 countries in the PISA, the Philippines ranked the worst in terms of reading comprehension and 78th in mathematics and science.

                The result of the National Achievement Test (NAT) showed that senior high school had below an average mastery level in English, Math and Science. This was the reason why the government sought inclusion in the PISA.

                Out of the dismal test outcome, something good must emerge. Education officials recognize the problem areas and stress that these are being addressed. Curricula in public schools are being redesigned and teachers are getting more skills upgrading and chances for increased pay and promotion. Proficiency test will be given to teachers teaching the three subjects.

                If this will push through, the education department can compare the result  of teachers’ proficiency versus pupils’ achievement. If teachers are questioned of pupils’ low performance, they always have reasons. Administrators have their, too.

                However, government offices must also step in. Students need an environment conducive to learning, including buildings that are sturdy enough to withstand the typhoons and earthquakes that hit the country regularly.

                Policymakers must also consider proposals to increase funding for education. The top performers in PISA are students from countries that allocate a much higher percentage of gross domestic product to education than the Philippines.

                Civil society also plays a role in encouraging youths’ interest in reading , math and the sciences, in improving English proficiency – the language in which the PISA was administered to Filipino students and in encouraging analytical thinking rather than rote learning.                 Pupils need competent and committed teachers, who spend quality teaching time; and teachers with character, who believe that teaching is service to God and his fellowmen. The PISA results indicate a national problem. Addressing it will require a concerted national effort.

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