DepEd eyes going back to English as medium of instruction after low PISA results

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) is looking into going back to using English as medium of instruction in schools across the country after the Philippines garnered the lowest scores among 79 countries in reading comprehension.

Although the Philippines has long been considered as a country where people have a good command of the English language, this appears to have changed in recent years.

DepEd eyes going back to English as medium of instruction after low PISA results
Photo credit: CNN Philippines

Under the country’s laws, English is only introduced as a medium of instruction in the Philippines starting at Grade 4. In lower levels, students are taught in their mother tongue or the language in their locality. But this has apparently affected the students’ learning so much that their scores were quite low in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

In the assessment, 600,000 15-year-old students from participating countries were asked to answer a two-hour computer-based test.

Compared with 79 other countries, the Philippines ranked the lowest in reading comprehension and second lowest in both scientific and mathematical literacy! This is quite surprising, especially considering how the country is touted as among the best nations with non-native English speakers. This fact is proven by the booming business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in the country.

“It’s an ongoing debate. Others want to continue the ‘mother tongue’ policy while there are also those who say that we should start with English since English is the language of the rest of the world. So we are looking into this,” explained DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones.

“It could be in English and also in the mother tongue because the mother tongue is very helpful for the child in adjusting to school, separation from the parents, from the family, it helps with the language, the reading.”

While she pointed out that there are lots of other ways for students to learn how to read, the poor performance of the Filipino students in the PISA serves as ‘wake up call’ for the country to improve its educational system.

— Joy Adalia, The Summit Express

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