Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Monday demanded a public apology from the World Bank over a report on Filipino students not meeting learning standards.
Briones lamented the result of the education report despite it only showing the situation of the students and teachers in the country.
Social media users pointed this out, citing the struggles faced by students and teachers in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Asked if the World Bank’s intention for the report was to secure more loans from the country, Briones responded that she wants a public apology instead.
“Sa tingin ko, apology muna. Kasi pinadalhan ako ng sulat personal apology but hindi naman ako ang natatamaan dito, ang natatamaan ang bansa [unclear] publiko,” Briones said in a Palace press brifing.
Briones also claimed that the country was ashamed and insulted by the release of the education report.
“And since the country was insulted, was shamed and so on, we expect and look forward to a public apology lalo na iyong hindi pagsabi sa amin na naglabas sila ng ganoong klaseng datos na lumang-luma na datos,” she said.
The education chief also accused the international financial institution of not following the protocol.
“Gusto kong i-emphasize ay ang World Bank na nagpalabas nitong datos na ito, hindi sumusunod sa protocol. Kasi kung mag-report ka about a country, kailangan malaman ng country na iyon kung ano ang sasabihin ninyo; kailangan nilang ipalabas. Walang kasabi-sabi, inuna sa media. So malaking kakulangan ito,” Briones said.
In the report titled “Improving Student Learning Outcomes and Well-Being in the Philippines : What Are International Assessments Telling Us? (Vol. 2) : Synthesis Report Presentation,” World Bank stated that the Philippines’ education system is already in a “crisis” even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
The report was based on three global assessments which the country participated in, namely:
- The Program for International Student Assessment (Pisa) – first participation in 2018
- The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) – first participation in 2019 after 16 years of hiatus
- The Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) – first cycle in 2019
Pisa assessed 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics and science. TIMSS gauged mathematics and science in 4th and 8th grade students. Last, SEA-PLM gauged reading, writing, and mathematical literacy among 5th grade students.
Across all three assessments, more than 80% of the students fell below minimum levels of proficiency expected for their grade levels.
Only 10 to 22% posted “at or above minimum proficiency” scores.
Reflection of the current situation
Some Filipino online users, in turn, countered Briones’ remark and pointed out that the report only reflected the current situation of teachers and students amid the health crisis.
“Sa akin lang naman po, sobrang kaawa-awa ang ating kaguruan, Sec. Briones. Pero kung kayo po ay nagbubulagbulagan pa rin, hindi po mundo ang mag-aadjust sa inyo,” one user said.
“San kaya kumukuha ng kapal ng mukha si Briones to worry about this when there are areas na nalalagay pa ren sa peligro buhay ng mga guro at estudyante sa paspasok sa eskwela,” another user wrote.
“Ba’t ka na-insult eh namomonitor niyo ba yung mga homophobic, misogynistic, at bigoted views ng teachers niyo during online class?” another user commented.
Some of these online users raised the still persistent errors in modules that students used for distance learning.
Among the blunders the public noticed included glaring mistakes in spelling, grammar, mathematics as well as gender stereotypes and inclusion of vulgar words.
“Yung mga module errors also gave shame to DepEd. Nagfollow din kaya ng protocols?” one user said.
The blended learning or distance learning approach that the education department implemented since last March affeced students, teachers and parents differently.
Some students and educators adjusted well. Others faced various difficulties especially those under lower-income households and in far-flung areas.
Meanwhile, other Filipino online users cited a similar response to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III who also previously slammed Bloomberg’s low ranking of the government’s COVID-19 resilience.
“Lahat na lang ba na nasa admin na to walang gustong tumanggap ng batikos? Una ‘irritated’ si Duque, tapos ngayon ‘insulted’ and ‘ashamed’ ‘tong si Briones? Hindi man ba nila naisip na tayong mga Pilipino, irrigated, felt insulted at ashamed na rin sa kanila?” one user said.
The Philippines ranked 52nd out of 53 countries with a dismal 45.3 score in the Bloomberg study released last week.