To successfully foster innovation in the new normal and aid the country’s post-pandemic recovery, Senator Win Gatchalian pressed the need to improve K to 12 learners’ proficiency in both math and science.
Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, said it is crucial to equip learners with strong foundational skills that will boost innovation, which is deemed crucial in boosting economic recovery and building resilience, including preparedness for future health threats like the ongoing pandemic.
Results of the 2019 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), however, showed that among Grade 4 learners who were assessed, only 19 percent had some basic mathematical knowledge, while 13 percent showed limited understanding and knowledge of scientific concepts and foundational science facts.
Another study, the 2019 Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) showed that among Grade 5 learners, only 17 percent developed the proficiency in mathematics to transition to secondary education. In the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the Philippines ranked second lowest in both math and science.
While the Department of Education (DepEd) is currently streamlining the K to 12 curriculum, Gatchalian also cited the need to improve the quality of teachers and address issues hounding the “spiral progression approach” mandated in the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 (Republic Act No. 10533). The spiral progression approach or the spiral curriculum exposes learners into a variety of topics and concepts which makes the curriculum crowded. For some, this concept is not conducive to teaching in depth or not helping students master the basic subjects.
In a workshop organized for teachers by Gatchalian with the help of non-government organization Synergeia Foundation, it was revealed that there were few or no teachers who were trained to teach all the branches or areas of a subject. Science teachers, for example, were only trained to teach in one area of expertise rather than the different branches such as Chemistry, Biology, and Physics.
Senate Bill No. 2152 or the Teacher Education Excellence Act, principally authored and sponsored by Gatchalian, seeks to improve the quality of teacher education and training in the country. The proposed measure seeks to revamp the Teacher Education Council (TEC) and improve the coordination among the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC). This will ensure the link and coherence between pre-service education and in-service education, and improve teacher education outcomes.