Senator Win Gatchalian is pushing for a more regular conduct of the Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS) for better monitoring of the country’s literacy rates. The FLEMMS is a household-based nationwide survey conducted every five years. The FLEMMS 2019 was the sixth in the series starting in 1989.
In a hearing on the proposed budget of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and its attached agencies, Gatchalian asked the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) whether it is possible to shorten the interval on the conduct of the FLEMMS.
“FLEMMS is not only used by the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM), but also by the Literacy Coordinating Council (LCC) to monitor literacy rates in our country, and by local government units to gauge the type of literacy programs that they should implement. It’s an important tool but a five-year gap is a very long time,” said Gatchalian, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.
National Statistician Dr. Dennis Mapa explained that considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on literacy, the PSA last year sought budget allocation for the conduct of FLEMMS but was not granted. The PSA, however, will push through with the conduct of the FLEMMS next year, which is covered under the agency’s budget proposal. The last conduct of FLEMMS was in 2019.
Dr. Mapa added that in its next meeting, the PSA board will explore the possibility of shortening the five-year gap in conducting the FLEMMS. The PSA official cited the example of the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES), which was previously being done every three years. The PSA board, however, decided to conduct FIES every two years instead of three to shorten the interval on the release of official poverty reports. According to Dr. Mapa, a three-year cycle for conducting the FLEMMS could be a reasonable option.
Aside from shortening the interval on the conduct of the FLEMMS, Gatchalian also raised the possibility of making the data more granular by conducting the survey all the way to the city level. Dr. Mapa said that this can be done but would require increased budgetary requirements. A cycle of the FLEMMS costs around P60 million, Dr. Mapa said.