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DepEd denies epidemic of illiteracy in Bicol

BRIONES

BRIONES

By GENALYN KABILING

Education Secretary Leonor Briones yesterday denied any reported epidemic of illiteracy in the Bicol region, saying having difficulty reading does not mean a student is illiterate.

Briones sought to clarify a report that stated more than 70,000 learners in Bicol supposedly cannot read in both English and Filipino, saying it was inaccurate and exaggerated.

“Tinawagan ko kanina ang regional director sa Bicol, ang sabi niya less than five percent lang, hindi naman ganun kadami,” she said. “Medyo insulto iyan sa mga taga-Bicol na sabihin natin na mayroong 70,000 illiterates na naglalamyerda diyan sa Bicol. Palagay ko hindi naman totally accurate ‘yan, dahil iba’t-ibang level ‘yan ang tinitingnan natin,” she added.

An Education official from Bicol recently disclosed that more than 70,000 students from Grade 1 to senior high school in Bicol “cannot read.” The data supposedly came from the tests conducted by the Philippine Informal Reading Inventory last year.

But according to Briones, the report may have been exaggerated since it mixed the number of students having difficulty reading English and Filipino. It also failed to clarify the students’ level of comprehension, she said.

“In the case of…may epidemic of illiteracy. Iyong sinasabi na 70,000 learners in Bicol cannot read. Palagay ko ay kailangan i-clarify, ano ang ibig sabihin natin ng ‘cannot read.’ Kung ‘no read, no write,’ hindi iyan tama,” she said.

She said the Department of Education conducts annual assessment to test if the students’ level of comprehension or understanding is appropriate to their grade. Briones noted that there are different levels of comprehension, including one where students can read but cannot fully comprehend.

“’Yung precision in the use of the word ‘do not know how to read,’ hindi ibig sabihing no read, no write kasi may mga kategorya iyan eh – Nakakabasa pero hindi lubos na nakakaintindi. So iba’t-ibang level iyan,” she said.

“Hindi ibig sabihin na illiterate sila.”

To improve students’ reading proficiency and comprehension, she said the Education department has launched the “Read to Lead” program. The project aims to bring back the culture of book reading among students.

“Kaya mayroon tayong program na ‘Read to Lead,’ kasi ang sinasabi natin na ‘yung mga nagli-lead ng ating mga komunidad, sa ating bansa, sa mundo, marami diyan, karamihan talaga nagbabasa. So, ‘yun ang focus ng ating kampanya as of this time,” she said.

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