Philippines rank second to worst in Grade 5 students’ reading, math skills in South-East Asia

MANILA, Jan 30 (Philippines Daily Inquirer/ANN): As most Grade 5 students in the Philippines and its poorer neighbours do not have the minimum reading and mathematical skills expected at the end of primary education, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) stressed the need to “harness the potential” of early childhood education (ECE).

Through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UN in 2016 called for access to quality basic education for all children, including some 30 million learners in the Philippines, to lead students to relevant learning outcomes and equip them with required skills, especially in language and mathematics.

But based on the results of the South-East Asia Primary Learning Metrics 2019 (SEA-PLM), only 10% of students in the Philippines met the minimum reading standard and 17% met the minimum mathematical standard expected at the end of primary education, as provided in SDG 4.1.1—Education Proficiency.

Grade 5 students in the Philippines received an average score of 288 in reading assessment, behind Vietnam (336), Malaysia (319), Myanmar (292) and Cambodia (290). The Philippines was ahead only of Laos, where students got an average score of 275.

While 288 means a Filipino Grade 5 student can read a range of everyday texts fluently and comprehend their meaning, only 10% achieved the minimum proficiency level, which is the ability to understand texts with familiar structures and manage competing information.

The average score of Filipino Grade 5 students in mathematics assessment was also 288, indicating that they can generally apply number properties and units of measurement, but only 17% had the ability to perform mathematical operations, including fractions, and interpret tables and graphs.

The Philippines and Myanmar, where students also got an average score of 288, were behind Vietnam (341), Malaysia (315) and Cambodia (289), and were ahead of Laos, where Grade 5 students received an average score of 279.

When it comes to writing assessment, Filipino Grade 5 students also received an average score of 288, behind Vietnam (327), Malaysia (318) and Myanmar (298), and ahead of Cambodia and Laos, where students got an average score of 285 and 283.

This suggested that a student in the Philippines can produce very limited writing with fragmented ideas and inadequate vocabulary as some 46% fell to the lowest proficiency band in writing - those who have limited ability to present ideas in writing and can produce a few sentences with very limited content. - Philippines Daily Inquirer/ANN

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