Gatchalian: Better for PH to join PISA in 2024 than in 2021

Aika Rey
Gatchalian: Better for PH to join PISA in 2024 than in 2021

'Joining the [Programme for International Student Assessment] next year without cascading the reforms, I don't think we will expect good results,' says the chair of the Senate committee on basic education

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday, February 13, said it would be better for the Philippines to join the triennual Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2024 than the scheduled one in 2021.

Gatchalian, chairperson of the Senate committee on basic education, made the suggestion during Thursday’s hearing on the bad PISA performance of the Philippines in 2018.

PISA is a student assessment of 15-year-old learners in 79 countries done by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“In my opinion, we just started the real work. Joining the PISA next year without cascading the reforms, I don’t think we will expect good results. It’s painful for all of us Fillipinos to see that we are at the bottom of the list,” Gatchalian said.

“Pag-aralan muna natin ang 2021 PISA. Sa next PISA na ang kunin natin, after 3 years, so 2024,” Gatchalian said. (Let’s study first if we should take the 2021 PISA. But let’s just take the next PISA, after 3 years, so in 2024.)

Released in December 2019, the Philippines ranked 79th in reading comprehension in PISA, with an average of 340 – lower than the OECD average of 487. 

Filipino students also ranked low in mathematics and science, with 353 points and 357 points respectively against a 489 OECD average for both categories.

During Thursday’s hearing, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that historically, Filipino learners are “not doing well” in the National Assessment Test.

“It is likely that we will not perform well in PISA. We said this months before, during the budget hearings,” Briones said, referring to the 2020 budget hearings held in 2019.

Right now, Briones said that the Department of Education (DepEd) hasn’t decided whether the Philippines would participate in the 2021 PISA.

Briones cited India’s case, as it did not participate in PISA for over 9 years after it took its last student assessment test in 2009. In 2019, India decided to join again and will have its learners examined in the 2021 PISA.

The educated chief suggested that the same may be done by the Philippines.

“Will we participate? On February 18, we are going to consult our supporters, friends, and the legislators, because this is the first time that we have participated in PISA, therefore it’s difficult to establish a benchmark,” Briones said.

According to DepEd, an enhanced basic education curriculum will be rolled out starting this June. Gatchalian said that it will take time for students to absorb the new curriculum.

“Ang recommendation ko ay huwag munang kumuha ng PISA next year para magbigay tayo ng mas mahabang oras para maayos ang curriculum at ma-implement ng tama ang mga reform,” Gatchalian said.

(My recommendation is that let’s not take the PISA next year so we have more time to fix our curriculum and implement the reforms correctly.)

While Gatchalian said the Philippines may skip the next PISA, Manila does not have to follow in the footsteps of India, who skipped the test for over 9 years.

Gatchalian added that it would be a waste of government resources if the Philippines continues to lag in the PISA rankings. Joining the OECD assessment test costs $1 million or around P51 million.

“Pwede muna natin ngayong tipirin ang $1 million at gamitin sa research at sa iba pang bagay na dapat nating ayusin,” Gatchalian said. (We can save the $1 million and use it for research and for introducing reforms.) –

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at