Imee: It’s Panic Time, As Filipinos Rank Bottom In Reading Comprehension

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Senator Imee Marcos has called on the education, health, and social welfare departments to act “with a greater sense of urgency,” following a report released Tuesday that the Philippines ranked bottom in reading comprehension among 79 countries.

“Wake up, DepEd, DoH, DSWD and other agencies concerned! It’s panic time to get your act together,” Marcos said.

The report, done every three years, was based on a test conducted in 2018 among 15-year-old students worldwide by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), of which the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is sponsor.

“We can argue that the Philippines might have done better if the PISA test were in Filipino instead of English, but what has become of the government’s education and nutrition programs on paper?” Marcos asked.

Marcos cited the DepEd’s lack of statistical data on student enrollment and completion rates as one reason the agency has been left “guessing at what learning programs would be effective.”

The DepEd “could not even name specific programs to increase literacy” during a Senate hearing on the agency’s proposed 2020 budget, she added.

A shortage of K-to-12 teachers to remedy overcrowded classrooms could also have contributed to the country’s dismal performance, “so ways must be found to make the teaching profession more attractive”, Marcos said.

“Brain development is not just about getting a proper education but also the proper nutrition early in life,” Marcos also said.

Citing the Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Marcos explained that “more than 30 percent of a Filipino child’s brain will not grow further if malnutrition continues from the time a mother is pregnant until the child reaches the age of five.”

To arrest the incidence of brain-stunting among Filipino children, Marcos has filed Senate Resolution 18 to inquire into all the child-feeding programs of the Department of Health, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the government’s other nutrition-related agencies.

“Their effectiveness will continue to remain in question until they can show that a comprehensive assessment of their programs has been done, if at all,” Marcos said.

Marcos added that the DoH should be made accountable for some P138-million worth of micronutrient powdered sachets in stock that state auditors found to have expired or were near expiry.

“Apparently, we’ve been left to our own devices for too long, so one solution is to revive the Nutribun soon. We’re coming up with a better version of what was given to schoolchildren in the 70’s when dad was the President,” Marcos said.