As students return to school, Senator Win Gatchalian urgently calls for swift action to enhance reading proficiency, citing that a nationwide reading program will be implemented starting Jan. 12 this year in all public schools as part of the government’s initiatives to improve the literacy skills of basic education students.
Gatchalian emphasized the urgency of addressing students’ reading skills as highlighted in the 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). PISA results revealed that the Philippine average (347) in Reading still falls below the average of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) countries (476), the entity conducting the study. The assessment showed that, at the minimum, the country’s 15-year-old learners can understand the literal meaning of sentences or short passages.
While the 2022 round of PISA showed an increase in Filipino learners’ reading scores from 353 in 2018, the Department of Education (DepEd) explained that this increase is not statistically significant, which also suggests that while Filipino learners did not regress despite the COVID-19 pandemic, their performance also stagnated. The department also emphasized that 76% of 15-year-olds have not achieved the minimum proficiency in Reading.
“Sa pag-angat natin sa kalidad ng edukasyon sa bansa, kailangang tutukan at bigyan ng prayoridad ang mga programang hahasa sa kakayahan ng ating mga mag-aaral pagdating sa pagbabasa,” said Gatchalian, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.
The senator has been pushing for measures that will strengthen reading programs and learning recovery interventions. One of these is the ARAL Program Act (Senate Bill No. 1604), which seeks to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed measure, which Gatchalian authored and sponsored, seeks to cover the essential learning competencies under Language and Mathematics for Grades 1 to 10, and Science for Grades 3 to 10. For kindergarten learners, the program shall focus on strengthening literacy and numeracy.
Gatchalian has also been pushing for the passage of measures such as the National Reading Month Act (Senate Bill No. 475) and the National Literacy Council Act (Senate Bill No. 473). The National Reading Month Act seeks to institutionalize the celebration of the National Reading Month every November to promote a culture of reading. The National Literacy Council Act, on the other hand, seeks to mobilize local school boards as de facto local literacy councils.