DepEd chief calls for more support for education
Pasig City (18 October) -- Amid reports of poor performance in the recent National Achievement Test (NAT), Education (DepEd) Secretary Jesli A. Lapus emphasized the need to give priority to basic education.
"This is a clear wake up call," Secretary Lapus said. "The inability of government in the past decade to cope with the huge resource demands of public education now puts us on a catch-up mode."
The results of the NAT for school year 2005-2006 showed that Grade 6 pupils who took the test scored an average of 54.66 percent while Fourth Year students scored an average of 44.33 percent. The test was conducted in March of this year.
The results also showed the students' achievement in the different subject areas of Filipino, HeKaSi, English, Math and Science. Grade 6 students got mean percentage scores of 60.68 percent in Filipino, 58.12 percent in HeKaSi, 54.05 percent in English, 53.66 percent in Math, and 46.77 percent in Science.
Fourth year students' mean percentage scores were placed at 40.51 percent in Filipino, 47.62 percent in Araling Panlipunan, 47.73 percent in English, 47.82 percent in Math and 37.98 percent in Science.
This year's NAT results also showed findings consistent with previous year's results.
Public school students from poor rural areas performed consistently better than those from urban areas. Elementary schools in rural areas scored an average of 55.94 percent, while those in urban areas scored 53.40 percent. On the other hand, secondary schools in rural areas scored 45.49 percent, while those in urban areas scored 43.78 percent.
As was the findings last year, the ability of rural schools to perform better is attributed to their school environments, which tend to be more conducive to learning. Rural schools also enjoy stronger teacher-student relationship and a higher level of parental involvement.
"Teachers in rural schools tend to invest more time and effort in every student, often staying after school or on weekends for review sessions," Secretary Lapus explained. "Parents in rural areas tend to be more involved with their children's studies, demanding better performance from schools."
On the other hand, urban schools are disadvantaged by overcrowding in classrooms, the proliferation of various modes of distraction in the learning environment, and limited involvement from parents who tend to work during the day.
Girls were also found to perform better than boys, as they scored higher in each of the subject areas covered by the test. The test also showed that students in science high schools were among the best performers, and this is attributed in part to the resources available to these better-funded schools.
Disappointed, but optimistic
"While we are disappointed by the poor results of the NAT, we remain optimistic that recovery is within reach," Secretary Lapus said. "This test supports many of the theories that we have translated to solutions, solutions we are currently testing in the field."
The education chief cited the performance of schools who participated in the department's Third Elementary Education Project (TEEP) and Secondary Education Improvement Project (SEDIP). These schools fared relatively better than the rest of the country's schools.
The 22 school divisions under the TEEP garnered a total test mean percentage score of 59.16 percent. These divisions also scored higher per subject: 63.13 percent in Filipino, 62.56 percent in Araling Panlipunan, 59.35 percent in English, 59.42 percent in Math and 51.35 percent in Science.
Meanwhile, SEDIP's 26 school divisions got a total test mean percentage score of 46.37 percent. They scored 41.13 percent in Filipino, 49.53 percent in HeKaSi, 49.44 percent in English, 51.27 percent in Math and 40.50 percent in Science.
TEEP is funded by the Philippine government, together with the World Bank (WB), the Japan Bank for International Cooperatiion (JBIC) and participating local government units. The project covers elementary schools in 22 of the poorest provinces in the country, and aims to improve elementary students' performance in terms of learning achievement rate, participation rate, completion rate and access to quality education. It also aims to actively involve the community and local governments in a large-scale effort to attain quality education by adopting key strategies on school-based management, principal empowerment, as well as on the optimal use of school resources.
SEDIP, on the other hand, is a seven-year P6.8 B assistance package benefiting high schools in 26 low-income provinces. The program involves the construction of new school buildings, improvement of school facilities, provision of textbooks, manuals and instructional aids, and extensive in service training programs for teachers and school administrations. The project is being funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and JBIC.
While these programs are limited in scale, Secretary Lapus expressed the department's intent to implement the project on a national level.
"We hope to put to scale the reforms that we have undertaken in the areas covered by these two programs through BESRA, our Basic Education Sectoral Reform Agenda," the education chief added.
Secretary Lapus also wants to look at the possible mismatch of the test and what is actually being taught in the classroom.
"NAT is a mastery test. So we need to look at whether or not certain topics covered in the test are actually being taught by our teachers in the field, especially in schools where the results were very low," Secretary Lapus added.
While various programs have been laid out, the DepEd chief emphasized that the improvement of basic education cannot happen overnight.
"Of course we cannot expect immediate results," Secretary Lapus said. "It will take a few years before we can see the outcomes of the interventions already in place."
In need of a collective effort
While the government has laid out measures to improve the education system, Secretary Lapus urged all education stakeholders, most especially the private sector, to help in the improvement of basic education in the country. He also emphasized that education is not only the education sector's concern, but is everyone's business as well.
"Our ability to solve this education crisis is rooted on our ability to get everyone involved," Secretary Lapus said. "The good news is that the entire nation is now paying close attention to education, and everyone is participating."
He recognized the government's response to the various problems plaguing basic education, starting with the approval of the 2006 suplemental budget and the proposed 2007 national budget.
"Education is now getting much more than the measly two percent budget increments in the past," Secretary Lapus said. "President Arroyo has declared education as her top most priority and Congress has responded with a ten percent increase this year."
He also cited the renewed participation of the business sector in the improvement of public basic education through various initiatives, including the Adopt-A-School program.
"We have all these groups from the private sector coming out to help us improve the state of education in the country, not only through Adopt-A-School, but in many other initiatives that we have," Secretary Lapus said. "With their support, as well as the support of the national government and the local governments, we are confident that we can overturn the sad reality of our education system."
Secretary Lapus also thanked the media for taking part in the department's efforts to inform the public of the state of Philippine Educatiion so that they can support the call for community involvement in public education.
"We thank the media for their support, since this helps us enhance reality awareness and general public support," Secretary Lapus said. "After all, education is a societal responsibility." (DepEd) [top]