Senator Sherwin Gatchalian recommended that the Philippines skip the 2021 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) so that changes in the curriculum, which were introduced by the Department of Education (DepEd), can be absorbed by students.

In an interview at the Senate, the Chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education said the DepEd has just started to make reforms on the curriculum in the K to 12 program aimed at enhancing the country’s quality of education.

“Dahil nag-umpisa pa lang ang mga repormang dapat gawin, this will take time. First, implementation, hindi sapat ang oras dahil ang next PISA is March next year. (The needed reforms have just started, this will take time. First, the time for implementation is not enough as the next PISA is scheduled in March next year),” Gatchalian said after the hearing on how the country fared during the 2018 PISA.

PISA is a triennial study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development which evaluates the proficiency levels of 15-year-olds in reading comprehension, science, and mathematics.

Results of the PISA in 2018 showed that the Philippines ranked lowest among 79 countries in reading comprehension and second-lowest in science and mathematics.

“Taking the test next year would just produce the same results.”

The veteran legislator said taking the test next year would just produce the same results since the new curriculum has not yet been absorbed by students.

To test if the new curriculum has been absorbed, the seasoned lawmaker said students will be evaluated through the National Achievement Tests which is done annually.

“Skipping next year’s PISA will save the government $1 million, or roughly P50 million.”

The senator said skipping next year’s PISA will save the government $1 million, or roughly P50 million, since “we have to pay that amount for the country to be able to join in taking the proficiency test.”

“The money to be saved can be used in research and other matters that need to be fixed in connection with the new K to 12 curriculum,” he said.

According to Gatchalian, the fastest way to improve the K-12 program is to decongest the current curriculum, which introduces around 300 competencies in only about 200 school days per year.

“With too many competencies, teachers and students found themselves having less time to teach and absorb the lessons,” he said, stressing that “it also prevented students from having sufficient competence in Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic”.

“Teachers’ readiness should also be given more focus, as well as the availability of quality and updated learning materials such as textbooks,” Gatchalian concluded. 

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