education in the Philippines

To boost students’ competence, PH needs better teacher training – Gatchalian

JC Gotinga

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To boost students’ competence, PH needs better teacher training – Gatchalian

EDUCATORS. Teachers at the Makati Elementary School buckled down for the opening of distance learning classes in October 2020.

Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Filipino 4th graders who placed last in an international study on math and science competence appear to have received unclear instruction from their teachers

If Filipino schoolchildren are to keep up with peers from other countries, the Philippines needs better programs to train teachers, said Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Saturday, December 26.

The head of the Senate committee on basic education, arts, and culture lamented Filipino 4th graders’ lagging performance in the 2019 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), in which they placed last among students from 58 countries.

The same study revealed that less than half of the Filipino students sampled received instruction with “high clarity” from their teachers. The rest received instruction with only moderate or low clarity.

This, Gatchalian said, is cause for dismay.

“This only reinforces the need to improve the quality of teacher education and training as the country’s basic education sector struggles with a major crisis: learners failing to master basic competencies and lagging behind in global assessments,” said a statement from Gatchalian’s office.

“We need to restructure the entire teacher education continuum from studying in college, getting a license, and teaching in our public schools. Our public school system has 90% of our students so if you have a poorly performing public school system, the entire nation is affected,” said Gatchalian, as quoted in the statement.

To measure the clarity of instruction learners received, the TIMSS used a scale to evaluate the learners’ responses to questions about aspects of their teachers’ instruction in science and mathematics. The study covered the teachers’ capacity to explain the subjects clearly, offer clear answers to questions, do a variety of things to help students learn, and explain a topic again when learners do not understand it.

Only 48% of the Filipino 4th graders reported receiving instruction in mathematics with high clarity, 37% reported receiving instruction with moderate clarity, and 15%, with low clarity.

In science, too, only 48% reported receiving instruction with high clarity. Some 36% of the Filipino 4th graders received instruction with moderate clarity, and 16%, with low clarity.

In terms of the students’ performance, the Philippines scored 297 in mathematics and 249 in science – both the lowest among 58 countries that participated in the 2019 TIMSS.

Although the Department of Education (DepEd) supports teachers’ “up-skilling” and “re-skilling,” the government should first help aspiring teachers receive quality education and training from teacher education institutions in order to improve learner outcomes, Gatchalian said.

The senator then made a push for Senate Bill No. 1887 or the Teacher Education Council Act, which he filed in mid-October.

The proposed measure seeks better coordination between the DepEd, the Commission on Higher Education, and the Professional Regulation Commission, in order to improve on teacher education and training.

The results of the 2019 TIMSS, released on December 8, showed that only a small percentage of Filipino 4th graders – less than 20% – reached the low international benchmark for competence in mathematics and science.

The rest of the Filipino students who participated in the test failed to even make the low benchmark. None of them reached the intermediate, high, and advanced international benchmarks. 

The Philippines only participated in the grade 4 assessment for the 2019 cycle. TIMSS is an assessment given to grades 4 and 8 students. –

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JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.