Philippines ranks among lowest in reading, math, and science in 2018 study

Janella Paris

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Philippines ranks among lowest in reading, math, and science in 2018 study
The Philippines ranks last among 79 countries in reading comprehension, and also ends up in the low 70s in mathematics and science

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines ranked in the low 70s in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a student assessment of 15-year-old learners across 79 countries done by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  

The Philippines ranked 79th in reading, with an average of 340 against the OECD average of 487. Reading was the focus of this year’s PISA, the results of which were released on Tuesday, December 3.

PISA defined reading literacy as “understanding, using, evaluating, reflecting on and engaging with texts in order to achieve one’s goals, to develop one’s knowledge and potential, and to participate in society.” 

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


This marks the first year that the Philippines joined the assessment. 

According to the full report, the Philippines sees a strong relationship between students’ socio-economic status and his or her performance in school. The study found that disadvantaged students were clustered in certain schools in the Philippines, as well as in countries like Belarus, Hungary, Peru, and Slovakia. (READ: China outclasses West in key education survey)

The report recommended interventions in education be “targeted at socio-economically disadvantaged students and/or schools” for these said countries.

The 2018 PISA study also found a small difference between high and low-achieving students in the Philippines. In the country as in Kosovo and Morocco, “even the highest-performing students scored only around the OECD average,” said the report. 

In a Wednesday statement, the education department said they “recognize the urgency of addressing issues and gaps in attaining quality of basic education in the Philippines.” 

They added that the country’s participation in the 2018 PISA would help the department “establish our baseline in relation to global standards, and benchmark the effectiveness of our reforms moving forward.” 

Education secretary Leonor Briones said the low ranking was expected, given the low results of the National Achievement Test. With the 2018 PISA results, she said, “We finally need to respond to the biggest lingering challenge of basic education in the country – quality, particularly of our students’ learning outcomes.”

Meanwhile, Philippine Business for Education, a non-profit group of businesses advocating for Philippine education, particularly student employment, said the results show there is an “opportunity for all sectors to come together to take a hard look at the quality of Philippine education, and to develop a collective action plan to improve the standards for teaching and learning.” –

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