Amid the celebration of National Book Week from November 24-30, Senator Win Gatchalian pressed the need for programs and interventions that would improve Filipino learners’ proficiency in reading.
Gatchalian recalled that even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, international large-scale assessments show that the country’s learners are already struggling to meet the minimum required proficiency in Reading. In the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the Philippines scored lowest in Reading out of 79 countries that participated. Results of the PISA further show that only one out five Filipino learners aged 15 achieved at least the minimum proficiency level in Overall Reading Literacy.
Results of the 2019 Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM), on the other hand, show that only 10% of the country’s Grade 5 learners achieved the minimum proficiency at the end of primary education.
The World Bank also estimates that as of June 2022, learning poverty in the Philippines is 90.9%. Learning poverty is defined as the percentage of ten-year-old children who cannot read or understand a simple story. The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education also pointed out that the lack of face-to-face classes during the pandemic has resulted in learning loss.
“Ang pagbabasa ay isa sa mga pundasyon na dapat nating pagtibayin sa ating mga kabataan at mag-aaral. Ngayon natin higit na kinakailangang tutukan ang kanilang pagbabasa lalo na’t pinalala ng pandemya ang problema sa ating sektor ng edukasyon,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.
To address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gatchalian filed Senate Bill No. 150 or the Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning (ARAL) Act, which seeks to institute a nationwide learning recovery program that will include well-systematized tutorial sessions and well-designed remediation plans. The proposed ARAL Program will also prioritize Reading to develop the critical and analytical thinking skills of learners.
Gatchalian is also proposing to officially declare November as the National Reading Month. In Senate Bill No. 475, Gatchalian proposes that the National Reading Month be celebrated through the conduct of nationwide reading programs and activities, which will inculcate a culture of reading among basic education learners and their communities.