A recently-released Southeast Asia-wide study on the learning outcomes of Grade 5 learners in 2019 revealed that around 20 percent of learners in the Philippines share Mathematics or Reading textbooks.
For Senator Win Gatchalian, this adds urgency to providing every public school learner with laptop and internet connectivity for a more efficient and equitable distribution of learning materials.
The senator is mulling a law on universal access to laptops and connectivity for learners.
The Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) 2019 reported that more than two learners share textbooks sometimes, which also revealed a consistent relationship between textbook availability and higher average achievement in Reading, Writing, and Math.
The pen-and-paper large scale assessment by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed that only 10 percent of Filipino learners in Grade 5 developed enough reading proficiency to transition to secondary school.
Only 17 percent are proficient enough in Math towards the end of primary school and only one percent can write cohesive texts with detailed ideas and a good range of appropriate vocabulary.
The lawmaker explained that given the delays of delivering physical textbooks and learning materials, these can be made available in digital formats, distributed through the internet, and accessed through learners’ laptops.
With schools due to reopen until a vaccine for COVID-19 is found, authorities plan to continue with distance learning.
“Kung mabibigyan natin ang bawat mag-aaral ng laptop at internet connection, magiging mas madali pa para sa pamahalaan ang magpamahagi ng mga aklat kung nasa digital format na ang mga ito. Mahalaga ang ganitong mga hakbang upang masigurong lubos na natututo ang mga estudyante,” said Gatchalian.
“Sa pagbangon ng ating sektor ng edukasyon mula sa pinsalang dulot ng COVID-19, kailangang siguruhin natin na hindi na kinakapos ang ating mga mag-aaral sa mga aklat at iba pang mga learning materials, tulad ng lumabas sa ulat ng SEA-PLM 2019,” he added.
The lawmaker cited the effect of access to computers and connectivity on learners’ performance.
According to a study by the Center for Educational Measurement (CEM) on the results of the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the proportion of learners without computers and internet is much higher in the lower proficiency groups compared to higher proficiency groups.
The same study revealed that around 60 percent of Filipino learners who participated in the PISA did not have access to computers and connectivity at home. Results of the 2018 PISA showed that out of 79 countries, the Philippines ranked lowest in Reading Comprehension and second lowest in Mathematics and Science.
The Department of Education (DepEd) reported that out of more than 22 million public learners, only 1.9 million have laptops and 3.6 million have internet access.