By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Win Gatchalian sounded the alarm on a World Bank
report showing that learning poverty in the Philippines has worsened
and is now at 90%. Learning poverty is defined as being unable to read
and understand a simple story by age 10.
This latest estimate on learning poverty in the country reflects new
data from the 2019 Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM).
In 2019, learning poverty for the Philippines was estimated at 69.5
percent based on 2003 outcomes of the Trends in International
Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).
The WB report also shows that compared to in-person learning prior to
the COVID-19 pandemic, learning outcomes have been generally worse
with remote learning.
According to the report titled “Remote Learning During COVID-19:
Lessons from Today, Principles for Tomorrow,” distance learning in the
Philippines covered only 20 percent of Filipino households with
schoolchildren as of March 2021 — the lowest rate alongside Ethiopia.
“Nakakabahalang malaman na siyam sa bawat sampu sa ating mga kabataang
may edad na sampu ang hindi nakakapagbasa, lalo na’t nagsisilbi itong
pundasyon ng kanilang kakayahan. Kung hindi natin ito matutugunan,
lalong mapag-iiwanan ang ating mga kabataan,” said Gatchalian,
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
For Gatchalian, the study reiterates the urgency of safely reopening
schools for in-person learning and include more pilot schools instead
of waiting for the expansion in March next year.
It should go hand in hand with the rollout of a learning recovery
program, Gatchalian said.
In Senate Bill No. 2355, Gatchalian proposed the establishment of the
Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning (ARAL) Program, which will
cover the most essential learning competencies under Language and
Mathematics for Grades 1 to 10, and Science for Grades 3 to 10. The
program also seeks to give focus on Reading.
Gatchalian also pressed the need to implement reforms that will boost
the quality of education through the proposed Second Congressional
Commission on Education (EDCOM 2), which will assess the entire
education sector’s performance.
The WB report added that compared to households whose parents have
tertiary education, children whose parents or caregivers lack any type
of education were three to four times less likely to engage in remote
Citing surveys conducted in March, the World Bank said that 40 percent
of schoolchildren in the Philippines with parents or guardians who had
tertiary education participated in remote learning activities.
Among households with older members who had no education, only nine
percent of school children participated in remote learning.
Participation rates were both 16% for households with adults that
received primary and secondary education. (AI/MTVN)