The Department of Education (DepEd) is looking into adopting English as the mode of instruction in primary years after the Philippines ranked the lowest in reading, science, and math among 79 countries in the Inter-government group Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)'s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). 600,000 students took part in the two-hour computer test.
Currently, English is used as the mode of instruction starting at Grade 4.
“It’s an ongoing debate. Others want to continue the ‘mother tongue’ policy while there are also those who say that we should start with English since English is the language of the rest of the world. So we are looking into this,” said DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones in an interview with ANC.
Briones pointed out that Metro Manila—followed closely by Central Visayas, Davao, and the Cordillera regions—actually had the highest scores among the Philippines' regions which participated in PISA, something which she attributes to access to better facilities and alternative learning materials like television, radio, and the Internet.
Briones also noted the link of learning to nutrition, sharing that Filipinos who ranked the lowest in PISA "tended to have high levels of poverty and hunger."
DepEd is pushing for the expansion of school feeding programs. It is also encouraging schools to develop libraries.