“Tuwing math subject po, tinatamad ako kasi po di ko maintindihan yung pinag-aaralan.”
This is almost typical of Filipino learners like Grade 4 student Andrea (not her real name) which prompted us at the Knowledge Channel Foundation Inc. (KCFI) to produce a video series with ABS-CBN called “MathDali” in 2015 with the objective of taking out the horrors and making it easy to learn math.
We thought then that Grade 4 was the best grade level to start our intervention, not too early and not too late. “MathDali” had all the elements of engaging videos: colorful characters, situations fit for learning critical topics and likable program hosts. We also had an accompanying teacher training, mentoring and assessment program.
While the series developed interests, some numeracy skills and shifted mindsets towards math, I had to repeatedly ask why the students were not getting better scores. The pilot study taught us that many fourth graders were not prepared to learn Grade 4 math. They cannot read and comprehend at their level and lack the requisite primary skills in math. We also learned that teachers lacked mastery of content and teaching skills, and a host of other factors.
From “MathDali,” KCFI focused on helping improve the foundational skills of reading and math at the very starting point: Grades 1-3 through the program “Basa Bilang” (“Read, Count”).
This validated the World Bank 2019 report stating that there is a global learning crisis and schooling does not translate to learning in most low- and middle-income countries like the Philippines, and the results of international benchmarking tests taken in 2018 and 2019 showing the alarming performance of Philippine students and their lack in proficiency in reading, math and science.
PISA or the Programme for International Student Assessment 2018 which tested 15-year-old students from 79 countries placed the Philippines at 78th out of 79 countries in math and science, and 79th of 79 countries in reading. The results of the TIMSS or Trends in International Math and Science Survey 2019 showed the Philippines at 58th of 58 countries in science and math. Our ranking declined from its already poor performance in 2003 by 81-83 points.
The learning crisis in the Philippines is real.
We need to act to end it for our children and for our country. We need to make a difference today: one child, one teacher, one school at a time. With KCFI’s “Basa Bilang,” we can help children to learn reading and math so that in the end, we can see the same result we saw with Andrea:
“Sa ‘MathDali,’ excited po ako matuto. Nagkakamali man po ako, pero dahil doon, natututo po ako.”
With “MathDali,” Andrea got a perfect score in her math post-test. We believe this can happen for all.