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PIDS study pinpoints critical improvement areas to bridge PH education gap

MALAYBALAY CITY (PIA)—Despite moderate improvement, current progress in ensuring quality education by 2023 is insufficient, warns a new study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). 

It reveals critical areas needing immediate action, such as tackling the root causes of widespread academic deficits among students, establishing an open data policy, and revamping teacher training and workload.

Authored by PIDS Senior Research Fellow Jose Ramon Albert and co-authors, the study titled “Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) on Quality Education for All: How Does the Philippines Fare and What Needs to Be Done?” highlights that while nearly universal primary education enrollment and increased participation in secondary education are noteworthy, alarming data paints a worrying picture.

Less than 20 percent of Filipino students reach minimum proficiency in reading and math, placing the country’s primary education in a “crisis,” with a learning poverty rate of 90 percent. 

It means that Filipino children, on average, lag significantly behind their regional counterparts in acquiring crucial basic skills relevant to the contemporary world.

“The poor quality of education in the country is a result of the need for financial resources to secure proficient educators, create a conducive learning environment, establish a reliable learning assessment system, and implement innovative learning technologies,” the authors said.

Higher education also reports troubling trends. According to the authors, tertiary education enrollment rate in the Philippines remains among the lowest in Southeast Asia. While policy interventions such as the 2017 Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act are in place, the rate average is at 34.8 percent only in the past nine years.

Moreover, despite continuous economic growth, job creation has lagged behind. It can be attributed to the declining labor participation rate, as many working-age people choose to further their education by enrolling in K to 12 programs.

Incomplete high school education locks Filipinos into a low-wage future, while even college graduates face an occupational “wedge”—a puzzling shift towards lower-skilled jobs.

The mismatch between education and job markets poses a significant challenge. 

“It could likely result in well-educated individuals gravitating towards less productive or low-skilled jobs within the labor market. The challenge extends beyond individual choices, pointing toward systemic issues within industries that impact the utilization of highly educated talent,” the authors warned.

They call for the inception of a real-time labor market information system to equip students and educators with accurate data for informed career choices and curriculum adjustments. 

The authors advocate for specific and targeted interventions to fulfill the country's commitment to SDG4's vision of universal quality education by 2030. They emphasize the need for a multi-pronged approach that tackles the root causes of learning deficits. It includes prioritizing early childhood development initiatives, addressing socioeconomic disparities, and revitalizing teaching methodologies.

“Transparency is a cornerstone of effective education reform”, the authors stressed. They advocate for an open data policy, a dedicated education statistics calendar, and seamless data exchange within the Department of Education (DepEd) and other government agencies. It empowers stakeholders with vital information, enabling evidence-based policy formulation and improved resource allocation.

Further, recognizing the crucial role of educators, the authors propose measures to alleviate teacher workload through streamlined administrative processes and investment in targeted training programs focused on innovative teaching methods and digital literacy skills. 

“There is a need to refine literacy measurement to encompass functional and digital literacy, better preparing students for the demands of the 21st century workforce,” authors noted.

Finally, they emphasize the importance of sturdy partnerships and collaboration between DepEd, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to ensure seamless transitions between education stages and a unified vision for the system.

“It is apparent that the education sector is in a looming crisis, and while it is easy to resort to a blame game, it is important to identify specific issues that need urgent policy attention to yield better results in learning outcomes,” said the authors. (PIDS/PIA 10-Bukidnon)

Authors of the recent study by the state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) emphasized the importance of sturdy partnerships and collaboration between DepEd, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to refine literacy measurement to encompass functional and digital literacy, better-preparing students for the demands of the 21st century workforce. (Photo courtesy of PIDS and DepEd)

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Ruby Leonora Balistoy


Region 10

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