Passions run low for math, science

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THE low global ranking of the Philippines in science education points up the need for government to plow more resources into math and science education to provide the necessary infrastructure for Filipino students.

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Sen. Sonny Angara cited the Global Competitiveness Report where the Philippines ranked 115th out of 142 countries in 2011-2012. The report gauges the quality of a country’s science education.

One of the reasons cited for the Philippines’ low ranking is the lack of needed equipment and materials that would help students to have greater grasp of the subjects.

Angara noted that in 2012 only 1,923 public elementary schools out of the 38,521 nationwide had science laboratories, and only 2,809 public high schools out of 7,490 had one.

“Compounding this is the fact that less than half of math and science teachers did not take these as majors in college or lack in-service training in these subjects,” Angara said.

To address deficiency, Angara proposed that a bigger chunk of Department of Education’s P2.7-billion budget for training this year be used to upgrade capabilities of math and science mentors “including scholarships for those who would like to pursue master’s degrees.

“We should recognize that the core of any education reform is not physical assets. The teacher is the lynchpin. What is the use of a state-of-the art science lab if the teacher is below par?”

He said that the government should focus on math and science education, now that the government had addressed the classroom backlog.

Angara was referring to the recent announcement of President Benigno Aquino 3rd that the chronic classroom backlog has been conquered following the construction of the 66,813th classroom in Carmona town.

“The government should not rest on its laurels and use the same energy in erasing the classroom deficit in bringing up the quality of math and science teaching,” he added.

Angara insisted that the government cannot ignore the two subjects as they remain the building blocks of a strong national economy.

While there is a “quantum leap” in math and science education funding during the Aquino administration, as proven, by this year’s P2.6-billion allotment for the two subjects, the senator believes that much remains to be done.

Average National Achievement Test (NAT) scores on math for Grade 3 students showed a drop from 62.8 percent in 2007-2008 to 59.9 percent in 2011-2012. Science scores also dipped from 56.1 percent to 55.1 percent.

NAT performance of high schools in math also fell from 50.7 percent in 2007-2008 to 46.3 percent in 2011-2012.

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