Following reports that Filipino students are lagging in terms of reading comprehension, and in math and science, at least three senators have offered proposals to improve the learning and academic performance of young Filipinos.

The Philippines scored the lowest in reading comprehension according to the results of the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) released on Dec. 3.

PISA is a worldwide study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that examines students’ knowledge in reading, mathematics, and science. Some 79 participating countries and economies took part in the study.

For Senator Cynthia Villar, instituting a rewards and incentives system for public schools will be a way to encourage them to strive for excellence.

“Bigyan ng incentive ‘yung magagaling at bigyan ng disincentive yung mahihina para namang magkaroon ng (Give incentives to top schools and give disincentives to the poor performers so that they will have a) wish to excel or challenged to be better,” Villar said.

The veteran legislator also proposed that non-performing schools should be disbanded altogether by the Department of Education (DepEd).

The seasoned lawmaker said a similar reward system should be accorded to “bright students.”

The lady senator said some sort of national exams could be held to discover bright students who should be rewarded.

“Strengthen the barangay daycare system.”

“‘Yung magagaling na estudyante, ang school nila dapat may mga national exams tapos na-me-measure mo, and then yung magagaling na estudyante, bigyan natin ng reward (For bright students, their schools should hold national exams as a kind of measure, then we reward the bright students),” she said.

On the other hand, Senator Joel Villanueva said proper nutrition and appropriate learning and play environments as early as pre-school play an important role in the learning and academic performance of a student.

Villanueva said it is for this reason that he had filed Senate Bill No. 858, which seeks to amend existing laws and strengthen the barangay daycare system.

“This is to give them proper care while their parents go to work. This will ensure proper nutrition and development support,” the veteran legislator said.

“I hope my proposal will be considered and will contribute to improving not just the academic performance but the overall welfare of underprivileged children,” the seasoned lawmaker added.

Nutrition is also the key to a student’s academic performance, Senator Francis Pangilinan noted.

“If a child is hungry, how can we expect him/her to study well?”

Pangilinan said the low ranking of the Philippines in the PISA report is “also rooted in hunger” among Filipinos.

“Naniniwala akong resulta rin ito ng gutom sa mga batang Pilipino na marami ay (I believe that this is also the result of hunger among Filipino children, many of whom are) underweight, stunting, or even wasting,” the veteran legislator stressed.

“Kapag gutom ang bata, paano natin siya ma-expect na makapag-aral nang maayos? (If a child is hungry, how can we expect him/her to study well?),” the seasoned lawmaker added.

The senator urged everybody to support the fight against hunger, as it is the responsibility of everyone and not just the government.

“Tungkulin nating lahat — nasa loob at labas ng gobyerno — na siguraduhing merong sapat at abot-kayang pagkain para sa lahat ng Pilipino. Yan ang ibig sabihin ng pagiging (It is the responsibility of everyone — whether inside or outside of government — to ensure that there is affordable food for every Filipino. That is the meaning of being) food secure,” he concluded.


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