THE recently released report on education by the World Bank (with Unicef, FCDO, USAid, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) could hardly show worse results for the Philippines. According to the data gathered, 90.9 percent of Filipino children aged 10 appear to be in a situation of learning poverty, while 90.4 percent are classified as suffering from learning deprivation. Additionally, 5 percent of Filipino children at that age are still unschooled. In my opinion, the most important finding is that the worrisome state of Philippine public education is not a consequence of the exceedingly long closure of schools during the pandemic — which only made the situation worse — but proof that the learning crisis comes from at least two decades of mismanagement. The conclusions of the report highlight that without urgent action, the countries affected face learning and human capital catastrophe and the future of those children may be at risk. The report states that "there is a narrow window to act decisively to recover and accelerate learning" and "this will require firm political commitment and implementation of evidence-based approaches for rapid impact." The bad news for the Philippines is that the process of making decisions on national education policies is not in the hands of teachers or experts in education, but would depend on politicians.

Since I have been teaching in the Philippines for the past 13 years, I have a few observations to do with the matter. The most important one deals with the content of teaching units. A rough review of school handbooks shows that what Filipino children learn in school is substantially less (in terms of quantity) than children of the same age in Europe (I know the examples of Spain, Italy and especially, Poland). The extension of the period of education with the implementation of K to 12 did not mean more content, but just distributing the same content for more years. The immediate consequence is that many enter the university without having basic knowledge.

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