Gatchalian seeks establishment of provincial math, science high schools

After Filipino learners lagged in the 2022 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) study, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Saturday urged the passage of a bill that would establish at least one public math and science high school in all provinces in the Philippines.

In a statement, Gatchalian said Senate Bill No. 476, or the Equitable Access to Math and Science Education Act, will help address the stagnation of Filipino learners’ mathematical and scientific literacy.

Gatchalian said the country would not have a solid and competent workforce of scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and other skilled professionals who would be pivotal in the country’s full industrialization and prosperity if Filipino students’ scientific and mathematical literacy remained below proficiency levels.

Gatchalian added that the country would fail to have a robust research and development sector that would elevate the Philippines’ income status if there was no scientifically literate workforce.

“Kung mapapatayuan natin ng pampublikong math at science high school ang bawat probinsya sa bansa, maibibigay natin sa mas maraming mga kabataan ang klase ng edukasyong kinakailangan ng mga susunod na scientists, engineers, mathematicians, at iba pang mga propesyonal sa ating bansa,” he said.

(If we can put up a public math and science high school in each province in the country, we can provide more young people with the kind of education needed by future scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and other professionals in our country.)

Under Gatchalian’s proposed measure, the schools that would be established would implement a full six-year integrated junior-senior high school curriculum that would focus on advanced science, mathematics, and technology subjects under the guidance of the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

The curriculum would be based on the revised curriculum of the Philippine Science High School System for Grades 7 to 12.

Graduates of public math and science high schools established in compliance with the bill must enroll in fields including pure and applied sciences, mathematics, engineering, technology, or any other field deemed appropriate by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

Gatchalian cited the 2022 PISA data that ranked the Philippines 76th out of 81 countries in mathematics.

The Philippines scored 355, while the average of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) in mathematics is 472.

The country meanwhile ranked 79th out of 81 in science, with an average of 356. The OECD average in science is 485.

The data further showed that 84% of 15-year-old learners are below the minimum proficiency in mathematics, while 77% of students are below the minimum level of proficiency in science.

Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte had lamented the Philippines’ poor 2022 PISA performance, adding that a collective effort must be made to address such a problem. 

DepEd’s senior education program specialist and PISA focal person Alex Sucalit Jr. said that the PISA results might have shown that the Philippines was about five to six years behind compared to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. — DVM, GMA Integrated News

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