With the latest round of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) revealing that bullying remains a pervasive problem, especially among boys and those in public schools, Senator Win Gatchalian pressed the need for stronger interventions to uphold the safety and welfare of learners.
The 2022 triennial assessment of 15-year-old learners conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) unveiled that one in three Filipino students reported experiencing bullying at school at least once a week.
The percentage of learners who reported experiencing the most common forms of bullying dropped by double digits. From 50% in 2018, the percentage of learners who reported that other students made fun of them dropped by more than half to 28%. While 35% of learners reported that they were threatened by other students in 2018, the percentage of learners who reported the same experience dropped to 19% in 2022. In 2018, 33% of learners reported that other students left them out on purpose. The percentage of learners who had the same experience dropped to 14% in 2022.
Learners who encountered bullying at least a few times a month exhibited a decrease in Mathematics scores ranging from 11 to 44 points.
“Alam naman natin na ang bullying ay nagdudulot ng mababang self-esteem, kawalan ng kumpiyansa, at kahirapan sa pag-focus sa pag-aaral ng mga biktima nito. Maaari ring maapektuhan ang kanilang emosyonal na kalagayan, na pwedeng magresulta sa pagbaba ng interes sa pag-aaral,” said Gatchalian, emphasizing the need to effectively enforce the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013 (Republic Act No. 10627) and strengthen the protection of learners.
In February this year, Gatchalian led a Senate inquiry on the implementation of the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013. He urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to improve mechanisms for reporting because of the discrepancies in the agency’s data and the results of international large-scale assessments.
According to the DepEd, the number of recorded bullying cases was 21,521 in School Year 2018-2019, dropping to 11,637 for SY 2019-2020 possibly due to the shift to distance learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gatchalian pointed out, however, that when the findings of the 2018 PISA were scaled to the entire student population, up to 17.5 million learners would have experienced bullying. The discrepancies point to possible underreporting of bullying cases, according to Gatchalian.
The Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education is also pushing for the enactment of the Basic Education Mental Health and Well-Being Promotion Act (Senate Bill No. 2200), which seeks to institutionalize the School-Based Mental Health Program. The program will promote and ensure the mental health and well-being of learners in public and private basic education institutions.