Here’s some sad news: one in every four Grade 5 students does not have the reading and mathematics skills for Grade 2 or 3, and four in every five 15-year-old students do not understand basic mathematical concepts such as fractions and decimals that should be mastered by fifth graders.
This dire education situation was worsened by rampant bullying, hunger incidence among poor households, lack of facilities and other safety issues. This was according to three different multicountry assessments spearheaded by the World Bank (WB).
The Philippines took part in the Program for International Student Assessment (Pisa) for the first time in 2018, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 2019 after a break of 16 years, and the first cycle of the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) in 2019.
Across the three assessments, poor learning results were observed among students in the Philippines, with more than 80 percent of them falling below minimum levels of proficiency expected for the respective grades. In all three assessments, the Philippines performed more poorly than almost all other participating countries, ranking at or near the bottom in each learning area assessed.
The Philippines was last in reading and second to last in science and mathematics among 79 countries in Pisa. In TIMSS, the country ranked last in both mathematics and science among 58 countries in the fourth-grade assessment. In SEA-PLM, it was among the bottom half of the six countries in reading, mathematics, and writing literacy.
“There is a crisis in education—which started pre-COVID-19, but will have been made worse by COVID-19,” the World Bank said, as “more than 80 percent of children do not know what they should know” in school. Across the three global assessments, only 10-22 percent of Grade 4, 5, and 9 students in the Philippines posted scores “at or above minimum proficiency.”
This is a very sobering truth. Let’s hope the situation improves in the coming years.