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PHL education system underperforms in East Asia Pacific —WB report

The Philippine education system underperformed among peers in East Asia and the Pacific, the World Bank said in a report released on Thursday, using the country’s test scores from 2003.

The WB report “Growing Smarter: Learning and Equitable Development in East Asia and the Pacific” noted that students in the Philippines, alongside Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand scored below average in international exams under the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

“The Philippines’ scores were below the 400-level. Around 500-level is the average of the wealthier countries,” World Bank chief education specialist Michael Crawford said in a briefing in Taguig City.

However, Crawford noted that the Philippine standing in the report was based on PISA and TIMSS scores in 2003.

“We only have one test score result for the Philippines and this is now 15 years old. We’re quite clear in the report that when we look at this performance from 2000 to the present, we don’t have the amount of data we wished we had,” he said, noting that the Philippines participated only once in the international exams.

“We’re conscious of the fact that this data is from 2003 and many things have happened since then,” Crawford said.

He recognized Philippine efforts at improving the education system since 2003, particularly the introduction of the K-to-12 program.

The latest report from the World Bank showed that East Asia and Pacific hosts seven of the top 10 performing education systems in the world. These are in Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, China, Vietnam, and Hong Kong.

The report lays out concrete steps for improving learning in lagging systems in the region and beyond, starting with ensuring that institutions are aligned so that objectives and responsibilities across the education system are consistent with each other.

The report also urges a focus on four key areas:

  • effective and equity-minded public spending
  • preparation of students for learning
  • selection and support of teachers
  • systematic use of assessments to inform instruction

Top-performing educational systems spend efficiently on school infrastructure and teachers and have recruitment processes to ensure the best candidates are attracted into teaching, and provide a salary structure that rewards teachers with proven classroom performance, according to the report.

Schools throughout the region increased preschool access, including for the poor, and have adopted student learning assessment into their educational policies.

Across the region, household incomes do not necessarily determine children’s educational success. In Vietnam and China, for example, students from poorer households do as well, if not better, in both math and science, as compared to average students in wealthier countries.

Crawford said the World Bank welcomed the Philippine commitment to participate this year and in 2019 in the international exams.

“Important is you keep measuring progress so you know where you put your efforts,” he said.

Policies in education, aside from the K-to-12, such as offering competitive starting teachers’ salaries, and the government’s commitment to improve infrastructure for education will help improve the country’s score in international tests for students.

“There are a lot of things happening in the Philippines, I’m quite positive,” Crawford said. —VDS, GMA News