“Walo sa sampung estudyante ay hindi natuto…,” is my rough translation of the World Bank’s controversial report that 80 percent of Filipino students did not learn what they were supposed to learn, published early this month. This finding is indeed “alarming” and “disturbing” according to our government officials. The Department of Education had even demanded an apology from the World Bank for the premature release of its finding, and for allegedly using old data.
The said report was based on three assessments that the country took part in — the Program for International Student Assessment in 2018, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study in 2019, and the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics also in 2019. In all these assessments, poor performance among our students was reported to fall below the expected proficiency for their respective grade levels.
However, after getting a howl of protests, the World Bank took down the report from its website and was replaced by an apology. Its first two lines may be enough salve for our wounded pride, “We deeply regret that the report on education was inadvertently published earlier than scheduled and before the Department of Education had enough chance to provide inputs. This was an oversight on our part and we conveyed our personal apologies in our communication with the government….”
Usually, when someone offends us and asks for our apology, we feel elated and vindicated because that assures us that we’re doing just right. But sometimes if we also knew, in the first place, that we’re at fault or somehow responsible for the wrong, we also feel guilty because we know that we don’t absolutely deserve it. I’m not sure who deserves an apology here, or if someone really does.
What saddens me more than the report is the seeming inaction of our lawmakers. I didn’t hear any move from them to investigate the veracity of the report. All I see are some familiar political campaign sorties that are slowly creeping on my social media feeds. And no one does seem to care about the issue anymore. I hope they will not discuss it during campaign rallies—that’s absurd if they’d do.
If the report is fallacious, then we deserved more than an apology for “insulting” our efforts all in the name of quality education. But if the report is true, then we also have to call out someone’s attention to shed light on the situation and assess what still needs to be done.
Whether we believe or we deny it, at the back of our mind, we acknowledge that there is a crisis in our education system. It’s been there long since and it will be a disaster if we continue to believe that we’re doing just right.
The report is ugly. It’s painful. It hurts our ego. But it could be one report that could bring a change that we and our learners have desperately needed for the longest time. Let’s look at the report with alacrity, and address the problems fair and square—it’s ridiculous if we don’t.