BAGUIO, Philippines – Education officials in Baguio rejected claims that more than half of school children in the city were found to be struggling to read and write in English.
This came as a response to Councilor Fred Bagbagen’s call for Department of Education (DepEd) officials to participate in the discussions about the state of Baguio’s education.
He sounded alarm bells over data that supposedly showed that only 40% of children aged 9-12 in the city can read and write in English.
Bagbagen cited a supposed study in 2020 about learning issues faced by the country and the city, particularly in terms of English proficiency in elementary and secondary-level learners.
The councilor attributed the data to a study published in the Development Research News (DRN), Volume 38, that claimed that senior high school students struggle to write basic sentences in English.
The publication of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), however, did not specify the methodology, sample population, location, or the number of non-English-proficient senior high school students.
The PIDS serves as a socioeconomic policy think tank of the government.
Baguio City Schools Division superintendent Federico Martin said Bagbagen got it all wrong, adding that the supposed data did not reflect the current and actual situation on the ground in Baguio.
He said the department conducted a cursory investigation and found that Bagbagen’s data and premise were incorrect.
Based on Bagbagen’s concerns, the city council had sought an official statement from the DepEd in the Cordillera Administrative Region. The local legislature, through Resolution 098-2023, also sought a study with recommendations about the actual education situation in the city.
DepEd-Baguio Education Program supervisor Marilyn Api-It said the claim about a 40% English literacy and proficiency rate among Baguio children was a flawed premise.
Api-It said there were no recent data to support Bagbagen’s concern because the Philippine Informal Reading Inventory (Phil-IRI), usually conducted annually, was not conducted during previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Besides, Api-It added, the Phil-IRI was for spotting children in need of intervention in reading and did not necessarily indicate proficiency level.
“The Phil-IRI… will be completed in June or July. So, there is no such data yet,” Api-it said.
Pre-COVID-19 reports, however, indicate that eight out of every 100 students dropped out, and were unable to complete 6th grade and enter high school education in the city.
Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong attributed the problem to poverty and lack of access to tools required for blended learning methods.
Magalong said immediate action was needed so that children would not be hampered by poor literacy as they grow up.
Local officials said they were also concerned about the effects of the Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education (MTBMLE) on the English proficiency of students which Baguio Representative Mark Go opposed in Congress in 2020.
The DepEd in the region said fears about the program causing poor English literacy were unfounded because there was no documentation to prove or disprove allegations of its negative effects. – Rappler.com
Angel Castillo is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.
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