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An Independent View
Monday, April 28, 2014
EVERY year, Grade 6 and fourth year high school students take the Department of Education’s (DepEd) National Achievement Test (NAT). The results are not edifying.
The NAT achievement grade for Bacolod schools in the Scholastic Year 2012-1013 for Grade 6 was a mean percentage score (MPS) of 55.10 percent which is far from DepEd’s passing goal of 75 percent.
Fourth year high school students fared badly with an overall average of 50.23 percent.
Students find some subjects more difficult than others. Grade 6 students suffered in Math (48.28 percent MPS), Science (51.96 percent), and HEKASI (52.94 percent).
In comparison, standards in English (60.66 percent) and Filipino (61.40 percent) were somewhat higher.
The same picture emerges with high school students who did very badly at science (37 percent), Critical Thinking (37.45 percent, and Math (44.19 percent). Students are more proficient at English (52.63 percent) Filipino (59.59 percent) and Araling Panlipunan (61 percent).
Thirty-seven percent sounds bad. It is bad! It is even worse when we consider that the test is multiple choice with four choices. Even if we knew nothing at all, with average luck we would get one out of four answers correct. So 25 percent is the minimum mark possible. 37 percent is only slightly distinguishable from knowing nothing at all.
What to do?
We are concerned that the enormous increases in our education budget (well over P300 billion for 2014) are not yet translating into providing enough facilities. Each subject needs a textbook and each student should have a textbook for each subject. Students do not receive a full set of textbooks. Furthermore, textbooks should be more resilient to the abuses suffered at the grubby hands of students. Textbooks should be fit to be passed onto incoming students in the following year. Currently, many textbooks are disintegrating by the end of the school year.
Many adults do not see the schools from the inside. Except when schools host elections. Then voters can see the shoddy material used in school buildings.
The Commission on Audit needs to understand why a now generously funded DepEd is still unable to provide the facilities necessary for adequate compulsory education.
The academically-oriented private schools have opened a significant gap in NAT scores with Bacolod Tay Tung High School, Trinity, St John’s, University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, and even the University of St La Salle-Integrated School having better scores than their public sector counterparts.
One of the Millennium Development Goals is that 100 percent of grade school students complete their elementary education. Only 66 percent of Filipino students pass Grade 6.
Of 100 students who enter Grade 1, only 33 complete high school. The socio-economic factors which cause the high dropout rate need to be better understood. Farm to school roads are at least as important as farm to market roads.
Entry to tertiary education should be dependent on students’ ability to benefit from the courses which they would be taking. This is dependent on their achievement levels obtained during their fourth year in high school.
DepEd plans to have Grades 11 and 12 for secondary students. This six year high school program would give an average student the chance to improve and perhaps reach the DepEd standard of 75 percent.
But if a student, whether from a public or private school, does well in the fourth year NAT test, reaching the DepEd standard of 75 percent, and successfully completes the admission processes for entry to a tertiary institution, it would seem reasonable for this student to transfer to tertiary education.
To force students capable of benefitting from tertiary education to waste two years in Grades 11 and 12 would be unconscionable.
The “Enhanced” Education Act of 2013 needs to be revised quickly before embarrassing cases reach the Supreme Court.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on April 28, 2014.