Learning must go beyond access--Advocacy group

13 Jun 2018, MANILA, Philippines – Has change come for Philippine education? According to Philippine Business for Education (PBEd), it has–but only passably so. While the advocacy group lauded the expanding access to education across all levels, it also stressed the importance of focusing on actual learning in the context of the global economy.

With the steady increase in education spending, teacher and classroom gaps have begun to close, and more children are going to and staying in schools. Thus, the Filipino workforce is becoming increasingly educated.

Learning outcomes, however, tell a different story. Early childhood comprehension is poor, with more than a third of Filipino children scoring zero on both reading and listening. Achievement scores for both elementary and secondary levels have also stalled at 59%, well below the 77% national target. Similarly, for 2017, only one of seven licensure exam disciplines reached the target passing rate.

“We have yet to translate the country’s successes into actual learning—the kind that prepares our people for the global economy and the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” PBEd chair Ramon del Rosario Jr. expressed. In 2017, four of every five unemployed Filipinos had at least a high school diploma, one of whom even had a college degree. Over 40% of post-secondary graduates were unable to find work, yet 30% of vacancies in Philippine firms remained unfilled in the same year.

“We must, first of all, start the interventions early. Target under-five nutrition, focus on the learning of foundational and socioemotional skills,” PBEd Executive Director Lovelaine Basillote explained. “We have to be strict about measuring learning–be consistent about administering up-to-date achievement tests for every level. That brings about and raises accountability from stakeholders to have complete, updated, and most of all standardized data across all agencies. Finally, we have to up the ante of our skills training capacities. Align the actors to continuously develop the curriculum and highlight the importance of school and program accreditation.”

“Together, let us strive to see a Philippine education system that is able to deliver on its promise of shared prosperity for all,” Basillote closed.

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