The Department of Finance (DOF) has supported the call of the Department of Education (DepEd) for the World Bank (WB) to issue a public apology over its outdated findings about the state of the Philippines’ education sector, which ironically, has already been addressed through amelioration programs provided by, among others, the multilateral institution itself since 2019.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III also cited the WB’s “lack of professionalism” when it failed to follow the standard procedure of consulting DepEd officials about its findings before the publication of its report.
In his letter to WB Group President David Malpass, Secretary Dominguez pointed out that the institution’s report showing the poor condition of the country’s education sector and dismal performance of Filipino students published more than two years since the assessments were made “does not reflect current realities” and “has the effect of misleading the public and causing undue reputational risk to the Philippine education sector.”
“The failure of Bank officials to follow the protocol of consulting with the DepEd prior to publication further illustrates the lack of professionalism which we come to expect from the World Bank and its staff. Such a Report should be taken out from the Bank’s website as not to further mislead the public. We also believe that a public apology to the DepEd and the National Government (NG) is in order,” Secretary Dominguez said in his letter.
He was referring to the WB’s 2019 report titled “Improving Student Learning Outcomes and Well-Being in the Philippines: What Are International Assessments Telling Us? (Vol.2): Synthesis Report Presentation” that was published by the institution on its website on June 29, 2021, which made it appear that the findings contained in the report reflect the current state of the Philippine education system.
In the future, the Philippines expects the Bank “to observe responsible reporting and adhere to the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct,” Secretary Dominguez said.
He said the Report’s outdated findings have already been addressed by the DepEd and the Philippines’ development partners, the WB included through various amelioration programs since 2019.
Secretary Dominguez said that, in fact, the Duterte administration is currently considering two financing proposals from the WB to enhance the capacity of Filipino teachers and to advance the DepEd’s Alternative Learning System (ALS).
“Thus, publishing the Report at present is quite curious as it does not reflect current realities and may be wrongfully used to tarnish the image of the DepEd and the entire National Government,” Secretary Dominguez said.
He said the WB report also failed to recognize the historical context of the Philippine education sector and how it has evolved, which the institution should have taken into account as it has been a “valuable partner of the NG for almost 75 years.”
“The Bank has delivered numerous development programs and projects to reform the education sector since the 1980s, and has remained steadfast in pursuing initiatives to improve the quality of education in the country,” Secretary Dominguez said.
Secretary Dominguez reminded the WB that “as a valued partner, the Bank should serve and protect the development interests of the Philippines and other WB members.”
In its 2019 Report on the state of the Philippine education sector, the Bank erroneously reported that “more than 80 percent of children do not know what they should know,” poor performance is deeply rooted in students’ limited proficiency in the languages in which schooling takes place; and “there is an unacceptably poor school climate, with high levels of bullying.”
DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones earlier demanded a public apology from the WB for releasing the Report based on old data, and said the country was “insulted and shamed” by these outdated assessments.