Robredo alarmed with 70k Bicol pupils’ inability to read; vows to talk with DepEd

/ 03:43 PM February 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo has sounded the alarm on the report that 70,000 pupils in Bicol regions cannot read, saying that she would talk with the Department of Education (DepEd) officials in the area.

According to Robredo, whose family hails from Bicol and is currently in Naga City, the meeting on Friday afternoon would be about the curriculum used and the department’s strategy in teaching students.


“Very alarming iyong report, kasi 70,000 na grade school children ay ‘non-readers’.  Ngayong hapon, mayroon akong meeting with Regional Director Gilbert Sadsad saka kay Usec. Dads San Antonio, kasi si Usec. Dads ng DepEd, siya iyong in-charge sa curriculum,” she told reporters in the sidelines of a program for farmers.

(The report that 70,000 grade school children are non-readers is very alarming.  This afternoon, I would be meeting with Regional Director Gilbert Sadsad and Usec. Dads San Antonio, because Usec Dads of DepEd is in charge of the curriculum matters.)


“Pag-uusapan namin kung ano ba iyong strategy ng DepEd para mag-respond dito, at ano iyong maitutulong ng aming opisina. Kasi iyong sa akin naman, mayroong mga nagdi-discredit doon sa test, pero kahit anong konteksto, alarming pa din. Hindi dapat tayo maging defensive.  Ang para sa akin, may problema, akuin iyong problema, maghanap ng solusyon,” she added.

(We would talk about DepEd’s strategy in responding to the problem, and what our office can do for them.  As there are people discrediting the test, but whatever context you place, it is still alarming.  We should not be defensive.  For me, if there is a problem, we should shoulder it and find solutions.

Last February 17, a Philippine Daily Inquirer report quoted a 2019 study from DepEd that showed 70,000 pupils cannot read either in English and Filipino.  At least 18,143 pupils are in Grades 3 to 6, while the rest are Grades 1 to 2.

The latest development bolsters findings that the country ranks last in reading comprehension among 79 countries and economies in the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment (Pisa)

READ: 70,000 Bicol pupils can’t read – DepEd

After this revelation, groups have asked DepEd to release national data on reading comprehension of students to avoid a potentially catastrophic problem with literacy.  However, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones belied the report as it was supposedly inaccurate.

READ: DepEd pressed to bare national data on reading


READ: What epidemic of illiteracy? DepEd chief hits reports that 70K Bicol students can’t read

However, Robredo clarified that DepEd should not be solely blamed for the problem as several factors like poverty might have played a role.

“Hindi kasi ito panahon ng pagsisisi, pero panahon ito para maghanap kung papaano haharapin. Ako kasi, unfair din na isisi lahat sa DepEd, kasi alam natin na maraming factors, maraming factors na nagko-contribute sa ganitong problema,” Robredo explained.

(It is not the time to blame others, but rather a time to find ways to face the issue.  It is unfair to blame solely DepEd, because there are so many factors that contribute to this problem.)

“Number one na factor iyong poverty. Alam natin na dito sa Bicol, mas mataas iyong ating poverty incidence compared sa national average, so ano ba iyong ginagawa natin para masugpo iyon?” she asked.

(One of the main factors is poverty.  We know that here in Bicol, there is a higher poverty incidence compared to the national averages, so what are we doing to combat this problem?)

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TAGS: Bicol Region, Department of Education, DepEd, Leonor Briones, Office of the Vice President, OVP, Philippine news updates, reading comprehension, Vice President Leni Robredo
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