MANILA, JULY 5, 2006 (STAR) Here’s another reminder that we should be in panic mode over the sorry state of Philippine education. A report released by the National Statistical Coordination Board showed minimal improvement in the competencies of elementary and high school graduates in the past year compared to the previous school year. Achievement tests administered among the graduating elementary and high school students showed only a tiny fraction made it past the "mastery" score of 75 percent, low enough as it is.

There‘s more. The board study showed that graduates in both levels fared worst in science, with only 1.8 percent showing the required mastery of the subject. The students also fared badly in mathematics, social studies and English proficiency. They did badly even in the Filipino language — bad news for those who thought abolishing English as a medium of instruction would fast-track the development of a national language.

The results were consistent with those of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study in 2003, where Filipino fourth graders and high school students ranked near the bottom among 25 countries in the elementary level and 45 countries in secondary school in math and science competencies.

We are aware of the reasons for the deterioration in the quality of education. Addressing the deficiencies will require a massive infusion of additional funds. The statistical coordination board’s study also showed that students from schools with a smaller ratio of pupils per teacher performed slightly better than those from crowded schools. The shortage of classrooms, however, has been a lingering problem that has been barely addressed. A booming population and the chronic lack of everything from textbooks to school desks have been aggravated by the continuing exodus of teachers for better paying jobs overseas.

Addressing these problems require massive funds that the cash-strapped government does not have. But the deterioration in the quality of Philippine education must be reversed soon. Otherwise it could take a generation before the nation can recover from the consequences of a poorly educated citizenry.

Study hammers "alarming" state of Philippines education 07/03 6:00:31 PM

MANILA (AFP) - An "alarming" number of students about to enter Philippines universities lacked a basic mastery of key subjects, while those entering high school fared only marginally better, a report said Monday.

Barely any fourth year students or sixth graders achieved the 75 percent "mastery" benchmark for mathematics, science, Filipino and English languages, and social studies, the National Statistical Coordination Board said.

While somewhat better than the 2003-2004 scores, the results of a national achievement test for the 2004-2005 school year "revealed that the quality of basic education in the country remains poor," it said in a statement.

"Science was the least of the competencies of both elementary and secondary students," the government-backed study said.

"Only one out of five grade six pupils and one out of 200 fourth year students had acquired mastery of the required education competencies for their respective grade/year levels," the report said.

"It is alarming to note that there were barely any fourth year students with mastery of Filipino, while for Science, there were only 1.8 percent students with the required mastery."

Those belonging to smaller classes and who had more textbooks "performed slightly better" than those belonging to classes with 91-100 pupils.

The agency said the study was similar to the results of a 2003 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study.

Filipino fourth-graders in that study ranked third last in both maths and science among 25 countries, while second-year Filipino high school students ranked 41st in maths and 42nd in science among 45 countries tested.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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