The PISA Philippine Results

Multiple Authors

Thank God, we outdid four countries in the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment). This assessment given to 15 year-old students specifically on their performance in reading, science and mathematics. Otherwise, the Filipinos would be at the bottom of the 81 countries which participated. There was a slight improvement from the 2018 results which former Deped secretary hoped for but this was negligible prompting VP Sara Duterte to launch “Catch Up” Fridays where students are expected to read books, articles or anything that interests them on Fridays.

And yet I want to veer from the usual vector of how these humiliating things come about. Why do we expect too much from our students when they are not actually being taught. Not that the teachers do not want to teach them but the VP should know that that there is only little or limited quality time that our present teachers are spending in teaching their students. For example, a teacher may have the dedication to teach her classes well but she may be prevented by so many intervening factors which eat up or take her quality time for teaching.

For instance, she may be given so many other workloads aside from the teaching loads she has. All these because the principals and supervisors give them the tasks that they ought to do. And in a similar way, the superintendents promising their regional directors to move heaven and earth so that they can outdo each other. Yes, the spirit of competition between the belligerents of each rung of power is too much that nothing is left for real creativity. We come now to have projects presented with fancy names and even using acronyms of division leaders for the fancy projects which are only good on paper but are unreal.

The dismayed teacher finding herself bounded by too much paper works couldn’t help but wonder where the promise of being a “paperless” system ever came from and why the opposite is the result. Not to mention that she is in a dilemma who had to receive her output first. Could it be the principal, the MT who is coordinating for the principal or the supervisor, and which supervisor, the subject area supervisor or the cluster or district supervisor among the many who demands that she must be the first to receive the output. And don’t expect that your prepared by name would appear in the final copy for submission because that would be removed and replaced by the one who had given you the task. Remember, you are the lowest mammal and all recognition belong to the armchair generals.

But you might get lucky and the thing you wrote in record time without proper planning and deliberation may be chosen as part of the division thrust or even a flagship project which might actually include you as the implementors. Then of course, since it was chosen, no unflattering criticism should be given to it or if the results were really bad, it is time to call the PhDs. And the EdDs. To doctor the results so that the Division could at least be united in cheating. And so, one after another, the academic projects and programs of the division are evaluated to be enshrined in the pantheon of the gods. Except that the students are really seldom involved in the big project except perhaps when they get chosen for the demonstration teaching which entailed rehearsals for the necessary answers in recitation could be given and the answers to the evaluation are made to be memorized to show evidence of learning. And thanks to everyone’s creativity because now there is hope for improvement in reading, science and mathematics.

Now, that was the academic part or what we expect as quality teaching. But the poor teacher must still have her intervention papers. Intervention would mean her plans of intervening if in case a certain student gets sick or does not come to school for one reason or another. One document which must belong here is the home visitation report. This report contains the day, time and eventuality that comes when the teacher visits the home of the absentee student. Of course, it must contain proof of the visit such as a photograph and the signature of the parent(s). It must also mention the module or educational material given so that the student can make up for his absences. There must also be anecdotal records of what must have transpired during his absences and those who are involved during the absence. But what is most important is the individualized education plan for the student so that he can still cope up and pass to the next level. The problem is that sometimes, the student or those with him at home are uncomfortable being photographed because of poor setting; the home could just be a lean-to on the wall or a barung-barong composite of junk materials. In fact, having been discovered as residing in such squalor may deem the student more ashamed of going back to class.

After all the efforts have been done which would of course involve some counseling usually from someone unlicensed, it behooves the teacher to pass the students after he has returned to school like McArthur. For it will be a crime for the poor teacher to fail a student who had at least responded to the teacher’s call. The government had invested too much money for every enrollee and the teacher should see to it that no government money is lost. Happily, the student passes the year level and is promoted to the next, in spite of academic competencies he had missed. On the other hand, some elementary teachers would commit themselves teaching the very students they failed come summer as this was how the DepEd punish those lacking dedication and finding no intervention. In fact, some reach high school without the real ability to read and comprehend or perform the four fundamental operations in mathematics. Then she noticed that the child always volunteered to sweep the floor and he is good in this and so, recalling the different intelligences she gives the failing child the benefit of the doubt and considered him to possess mechanical intelligence, enough reason for her to pass him.Upon reaching high school, the teacher who receives such problematic student realizes that he is in for a bigger problem: the child is a non-reader and numerically illiterate. This plus the fact that the principal is not a leftist and ignores universal justice so he wouldn’t open a special class for non-readers and non-numerics but is too woke to see the plight of marginalized high school students. And so, he threatens the teacher that if he will not pass the said student, she will spend the summer months teaching him. And so the vicious cycle continues and eureka! She discovers that he always attends the bible ministry in the neighborhood because there’s merienda there and she finds a spiritual intelligence in him! And so, he passed, making the Lord perform another discreet miracle! Now, the Secretary should understand the reason why some 5 to 6 years (Clearly, it’s not the Bumbay’s fault!) is how the student have lagged cumulatively because of these reasons.

Now, all these help in the reasons why our students are na-PISA! But then there are still other papers which the teacher had to accomplish and these are the co-curricular papers and the other School Forms to make the promotions official but please let us give the teacher some rest and not send them to personal tasks which some officials find them the only meritorious ones who can do them. This is, in fact, the reason why so many of our teachers would qualify as nannies, maids and handymen abroad, they have their training under DepEd officials. Math teachers can pay our electric and water bills with the correct change. Science teachers can calculate the number of scoops of powder milk for our babies well. English teachers can read for our children as they fall asleep for their assignments. And yes, let us not forget the T.L.E. teachers who can help us in our parties and when we have construction at home.

But then again, let’s pity the new national beast of burden, the poor teacher. After some senators were accused of plunder, she was also required to have her SALN. For heaven’s sake we should have at least stopped on the level of the principal for obvious reasons! And then her IPCRF became so bloody that a body of evidence must be complied and compiled prompting some photo opts to be made with different uniforms made on the same day! And when one principal disallowed the poses here comes an ASDS to the rescue signing the rating forms and effectively usurping the rights of the principal. Well, that was expected as she promoted false documents for some reason. But please let them stop being Egyptian slavers usurping the government’s plan of giving the teachers some respite. A holiday is supposed to be a holiday and a Sunday for God and family but these tyrants assign the very days for dubious seminars and programs which make the teachers looking wasted when manic Mondays come.
Again, VP and Education Secretary Sara Duterte takes the PISA result a wake-up call for our educational leaders. But who couldn’t resist sleeping when you are in a very cool air-conditioned office with the ref full of cakes and pastry and drinks to match and too much and with a cozy little room where you can have a siesta while the poor teacher is trying to be a miracle worker bridging some five to six years in the educational lag using a template daily log.

Gen. George Patton, Jr. said before “No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair.” Of course, the gutsy American general wouldn’t have any of his decision made just in his office chair. In fact, the swivel offers some movement but armchair generals are too immobilized, like satiated boa constrictors such that even their swivel chairs involuntarily vibrate nervously out of their weight and out of sheer shame. They are petrified from action because of their fear of losing but if however, we continue to maintain a leadership like this, then we will continue losing our PISA pie!


Dr. Ricardo B. de los Santos
Icarus Leido
Karam M. Zingh

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