World Bank apologizes to Philippines over education report

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MANILA – The World Bank apologized to the Philippine government on Thursday for the “inadvertent” publication of a report about allegedly poor learning outcomes among Filipino pupils.

The World Bank said in a statement posted on its official website that their report titled “Improving Student Learning Outcomes and Well-Being in the Philippines: What are International Assessments Telling Us?” (Vol.2): Synthesis Report Presentation” was issued without the involvement of the Department of Education (DepEd).

“We deeply regret that the report on education was inadvertently published earlier than scheduled and before the Department of Education had enough chance to provide inputs. This was an oversight on our part, and we conveyed our personal apologies in our communication with the government,” it said.

According to the World Bank, the report has already been “temporarily” deleted from its website.

“Recognizing the inadvertent release of the report, we have taken steps to temporarily remove it from the website,” the World Bank said.

The response came after Education Secretary Leonor Briones demanded a public apology from the World Bank on Monday for issuing an “outdated” and “insulting” report on the Philippines’ allegedly poor education quality.

The World Bank said it has reached out to Briones to discuss “opportunities and challenges” in the Philippines’ education sector with DepEd.

“We are aware of the Department’s various efforts and programs to address the challenge of education quality,” it said. “We agree with the Department that the issue of quality has a long historical context, and support its demonstrated commitment to resolve it decisively.”

According to the World Bank report, around 80% of Filipino pupils fall below the minimum proficiency levels because “they do not know what they should know in school.”

Its report was based on the Philippines’ participation in three assessments, including the Program for International Student Assessment (Pisa) in 2018, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 2019, and the first cycle of the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) in 2019.

The World Bank said that only 10 to 20% of Grade 4, 5, and 9 students in the Philippines scored “at or above minimum proficiency” on the three global examinations.

The World Bank also stated that there is a “crisis” in Philippine education that “began prior to Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019)” and “have been made worse” by the coronavirus pandemic.

The World Bank’s report on Philippine education is “being processed or is not available” as of press time.

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