July 16, 2024

Our poor performance in global assessments like the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) has led to different innovations and implementation of projects and programs in basic education. These projects, programs, and activities (PPAs) have ideal intentions that would enhance the intellectual ability of the learners but it is head-scratching why despite these efforts, the progress seems slow.
There are various contributing factors to why our learners continue to linger behind others in terms of learning standards. I will go as far as the perceived cause of this dilemma – culture. Culture is the primary dictator of a person’s decision-making and behavior. So, how does culture affect the performance of our learners?
Filipinos are socially oriented. There’s no problem in this culture, but there are questionable practices as a product of this. One is that a person who is socially oriented like us needs to maintain a good face in the community. On the part of school administrators, they have to show people that they perform well. Performance is usually shown in performance records and through awards and recognition. Having poor performance or failure to garner an award usually brings a dent of shame. The consequence is not always ideal. Some would do everything under their control to make the passing rate high even if they bend some rules and principles. It is because they have to keep a good image. So, “Why did a child pass without attaining the required competencies?” is a complex question that can be answered by analyzing our culture.
Second, the culture of attachment is akin to our strong family orientation. Is this wrong? No. We are hailed for this culture. It has more positive implications than negative ones but its weakness can be felt if people are not careful in translating it into practices such as the need to pass a child because of attachment and treating them as family. In education, this is often construed as providing leniency to students because teachers embrace the second-parent notion to the extreme. The problem is, it sometimes triggers teachers to pass students in the name of mercy to the learners or the parents.
The focus of basic education today is to enhance the comprehension, literacy, and numeracy skills of the learners ensuring they acquire the necessary competencies for each education level. This should keep the learners competitive in international assessments. So, PPAs must be introduced and implemented.
Implementation is challenging because of misguided interpretations and practices of our culture.