Philippines scores lowest in reading comprehension among 79 countries

by Kitty Elicay
Dec 5, 2019
"We envision that no Filipino learners should be left behind, and it takes a nation to educate a child,” says DepEd on the PISA 2018 results.
PHOTO/S: iStock

Out of 79 participating countries, the Philippines scored the lowest in reading comprehension at the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a worldwide study that examines students’ knowledge in reading, mathematics, and science.

About 600,000 students, all 15 years old, around the world participated in the exam, which was conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

According to the results released on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, Filipino students scored a mean of 340 points in the reading comprehension exam—the OECD average is 487 points. Performances of both boys and girls in reading also ranked lowest among PISA-participating countries.

“Reading proficiency is essential for a wide variety of human activities—from following instructions in a manual; to finding out the who, what, when, where, and why of an event; to communicating with others for a specific purpose of a transaction,” the summary of the PISA 2018 results reads.

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Key findings from the PISA 2018 noted that the country’s socio-economic status account for 18% of the variance in reading performance in the country, as the largest percentage of low performers in reading come from socio-economically disadvantaged students, according to a report by

The findings also showed that average-class sizes in the Philippines are the largest compared to other countries, and the ratio of students to teaching staff in disadvantaged schools is also the highest.

Apart from reading comprehension, the Philippines also ranked second-lowest in mathematics (tied with Panama) and science. Meanwhile, China and its cities Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zheijang topped all categories, followed by Singapore.

This is the first time that the Philippines took part in the PISA.

“Results from PISA indicate the quality and equity of learning outcomes attained around the world, and allow educators and policymakers to learn from the policies and practices applied in other countries,” said OECD.

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DepEd reacts

The Department of Education (DepEd) said in a statement that the Philippines’ participation in the PISA establishes “our baseline in relation to global standards, and benchmark the effectiveness of our reforms moving forward. The PISA results, along with our own assessment and studies, will aid in policy formulation, planning and programming.”

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But because of the alarming results, the agency recognized the urgency “of addressing issues and gaps in attaining quality of basic education in the Philippines.”

It also mentioned the need for Implementing aggressive reforms in the following key areas: K to 12 review and updating, improvement of learning facilities, teachers and school heads’ upskilling and reskilling, and engagement of all stakeholders for support and collaboration.

“We envision that no Filipino learners should be left behind and it takes a nation to educate a child.

"Hence, DepEd calls the entire nation to take active involvement, cooperation, and collaboration in advancing the quality of basic education in the Philippines,” DepEd said.

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"We envision that no Filipino learners should be left behind, and it takes a nation to educate a child,” says DepEd on the PISA 2018 results.
PHOTO/S: iStock
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