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Why Don’t We Learn?

I was in an event in which DepEd Regional Director Gilbert Sadsad expressed gratitude for Dominican Republic for being among the countries assessed; otherwise, Philippines would have ranked lowest. At least, we took the rank above the lowest, barely scraping the bottom of the barrel. He was joking, of course.

“The Philippines ranked 77th out of 81 countries globally in the student assessment conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for 15-year-old learners.” Program for International Student Assessment “PISA result indicates Philippine education system is 5 to 6 years behind – DepEd.” (

We didn’t rank second from the lowest after all. We’re 77th of 81. That’s fifth from the lowest, better than second from lowest, far better than lowest, but bad nonetheless. The group of students assessed were 15 year-olds, who by now, should be Grade 11 senior high school students. But nonetheless, their performance is more or less representative of the whole bunch. This is actually the norm for Filipino students. In the previous results, we have slipped up and down very near the lowest rank. So, this is not really something new.

Some teachers attribute the low performance to a congested curriculum. Along with the need for more school buildings, hiring more teachers, increasing their salaries and a higher national budget for education (which we have usually heard), Alliance of Concerned Teachers ACT Party List Representative France Castro (who is currently at odds against former President Rodrigo Duterte in the case of threat against her) cited “adopting a curriculum that would make learning easier for students and more attuned to the Philippine situation,” as a solution to this poor performance. Okay, let’s have those again. Teachers themselves attest that the K to 12 curriculum is congested, difficult for students, and is not attuned to the local situation. Who crafted this congested, difficult and misdirected curriculum after , anywayall?

For the rest of this article, let me give my own suggestions. Drop MAPEH out of the required learning areas. Integrate Health with Science. (Anyway, the lessons are redundant in many cases.) Make Music, Arts and Physical Education as optional learning programs for students who show aptitude and/or express interest in those areas. Do the same with Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan/Technology and Livelihood Education. Let it be optional programs for students who show skills in entrepreneurship, agriculture, home economics and industrial arts. Too much time is spent on engaging in skills which are specific to persons who have those given talents, skills or interests. Some persons are naturally not inclined to music, or arts or sports, or dance, or agriculture, or entrepreneurship or carpentry or woodcraft. Why force it on them? Besides being a waste of time and resources, they take time away from the essential learning competencies.

Integrate Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao with Filipino. It would be easy to include values in the language competencies. Decongest the competencies in English to focus more on reading. Do the same decongestion for Math and Science. Integrate ICT with lessons on reading and writing. Give performance tasks that actually accomplish the corresponding competency. Do away with performance tasks like role playing, drawing, artwork, singing, dancing, Vlogging, reporting and all that sort that actually veer away from learning and acquiring the competency.

Retain only important few celebrations. Celebrations like Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa, United Nations Celebration, Children’s Month, National Reading Month, Filipino Values Month, National Arts Month, Fire Prevention Month, school intramurals, Valentine’s Day Celebration, Nutrition Month and many other extra-curricular activities only hamper the learning of the essential skills. Locally, students have to further contend with the Drum and Lyre Corps, BSP?GSP Parade, Voyadores Festival and those additional events on the Penafrancia Fiesta. Stop integrating issues like drug abuse, reproductive health, protection of environment, disaster risk and reduction, life of a particular national hero, violence against women and children, gender and development and all others of this sort to English and/or Math. Place them in Science or Araling Panlipunan, along with related lessons/competencies. They clog, confuse and misdirect the more important lessons.

Minimize teachers’ seminars/trainings, benchmarking activities. Often, this sort of extra load for teachers cause disruption of classes. Stop this habit of making school classrooms as the venue for evacuation centers, quarters for athletes, testing centers and others. They also disrupt classes. Do we really need vegetable gardens in schools? Maybe, the barangay government can take care of those.

There is a concern of food and health security and domestic/family problems that to some extent cause the poor performance.

Now, these are even more complex matters.

Psalm 32:8: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”


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