Filipino students ranked last among 79 countries in a global survey of reading comprehension because they are more used to narrative instead of informative text materials, a group said Thursday.
Frederick Sotto Perez, president of the Reading Association of the Philippines, said this was the first time that the Philippines joined the Program for International Student Assessment of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
PISA said Filipino students were the weakest of 79 countries in understanding what they were reading.
Senator Cynthia Villar said the Education department had the biggest budget of all government agencies but it had been producing “poor quality” students in reading, math and science.
Villar issued the statement in the wake of the global survey results showing the Philippines ranked lowest in Reading Comprehension and ranked second to the lowest in both Math and Science.
“We have many students, but the quality of our students is not good, Villar said in an ambush interview at the sidelines of the STRATBASE Pilipinas Conference at the Manila House Private Club in Taguig City on Thursday.
In a statement, the Education department said it was seeking to improve the quality of basic education in the country after the Philippines got a poor ranking in PISA 2018.
In a statement Wednesday, the department said the Philippines joined PISA for the first time in 2018 as part of its reform plans on quality basic education.
The results of the assessment program, it said, would be used to establish a baseline to global standards and benchmark the effectiveness of succeeding reforms on education.
The Philippines joined the global survey which will “provide us baseline data for our curriculum,” the department said.
“The texts [in the exam] are mainly informational and the evaluation of the text and understanding revolved on informational text and not narrative, to which our students are used to in the Philippines,” Perez told ANC’s Early Edition.
“People are alarmed by the results. This alarm may lead us to a more reflective education which we want to pursue.”
Perez said children should be taught expository texts that focus on factual information at the age of nine.
“Reading ability is developed through practice. We can only develop fluent readers if we provide them with text, print and digital and we practice them through teacher modeling, shared practice towards independent practice,” he said.
Another reason for Filipino students ranking last in the exam was poor connectivity in the far-flung areas, Perez said, noting that the country “lacks reading materials.”
“There’s no internet, books are mainly children’s books and there are no encyclopedias and other digital texts,” he said.
“Books and printed text are very essential. Reading culture may be promoted in schools through extended literacy projects, book talks of teachers. Schools should be active in fostering a reading culture by actually making their libraries functional.”
Students must also be taught to discern the credibility of a text which was one aspect that PISA tested, Perez said.
“I think it’s important we know how to evaluate sources that are being taught in high school, check the facts and actually cross-check,” he said.
“Even in social media, for example, we see our students always sharing online without discerning what kind of texts they are sharing with other people.”
Teachers and parents must also be guided in handling digital literacy, Perez said as he emphasized that all educators should be “reading teachers.”
“All teachers should undergo reading instruction strategy training. Our students, to be able to do research, should know how to read articles and facts, evaluate them and distinguish fact from opinion,” he said. With PNA