Lawmakers hit DepEd for low proficiency rates in PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 12) — Lawmakers on Thursday questioned the Department of Education (DepEd) over the low proficiency rates of Filipino students.

In a Senate hearing on the DepEd's budget, Senator Imee Marcos asked Education secretary Leonor Briones what efforts were being done to raise the quality of education in the country.

For 2018, DepEd has not provided any data and target on the country’s functional literacy rate, referring to the National Economic and Development Authority's (NEDA) Socioeconomic report. The latest data is from 2013, which is 90.3 percent

Marcos said it sounded like a good number, but noted it is one of the lowest in the ASEAN region.

“We have been passed by Malaysia and Thailand who started much later,” Marcos said. She asked if the DepEd had any plans to raise the number to 100 percent.

“I find it alarming that there seems to be no national effort to finally end illiteracy in this country when in fact we started public education way before anyone else in the ASEAN,” added Marcos.

Briones for her part said, while it cannot be denied it is a challenge, it would not be right to compare the educational system of the Philippines to other countries.

Changing the way teachers are trained will help them catch up and affect the way they teach, she added.

Meanwhile, Senator Win Gatchalian said he was alarmed by the number of "frustrated readers" after it was revealed that 24.07 percent of students fell into the category.

Frustrated readers are those whose comprehension level falls below 50 percent.

The DepEd said that it is about to draft a memo which it will call “Hamong Bawat Bata Bumabasa” urging DepEd units to create reading and literacy programs.

More classrooms needed

Gatchalian also appealed to budget officials to give the DepEd more money to build new classrooms.

The DepEd originally wanted around P200 billion to build over 64,000 new classrooms, but the Budget department only approved P36 billion for 8,000 classrooms.

Gatchalian said the need for more classrooms should not be ignored.

DepEd officials, meantime, explained why the accomplishment for classroom construction is low. They say they are building multi-level building which take at least a year to finish.