THE World Bank has a disconcerting figure to share: more than 250-million schoolchildren throughout the world cannot read. We can attest to that as we have encountered high school students who find it hard to read much more comprehend. Being handicapped in both, it follows that they can hardly express their thoughts in printed word.
This is a warning in the horizon that we can address now or suffer in the future. After all, literacy is a basic skill that is required so a person can acquire advanced skills that bring higher wages and earning capacities and employment opportunities.
The World Bank then challenges countries to invest in interventions to get the young to read.
In the World Bank log by Harry Patrinos, Jimmy Graham, and Sean Kelly, it reads: "In order to address the high rates of child illiteracy that pervade in developing countries, we believe that education funding should be shifted towards early primary education reading initiatives."
Learning to read at an early age is crucial, and this is a concern that the Department of Education should truly look into. It can never be said that just because a child has been given the passing grade to go up the next level, that all children in that batch can already read. We know this is not true and we should not delude ourselves in believing otherwise, lest we bring into this world more and more barely literate people who will soon drop out of school and become a sector that is barely employable.
"Data from Early Grade Readings Assessments (EGRAs) show that huge swaths of populations in developing countries are not learning to read. Several cases illustrate how severe the problem is in some contexts: A program evaluation in Malawi found that 95 percent of second graders could not read a single word. Third graders do not necessarily perform much better. A regional sample in Haiti found that 48 percent of third grade students could not read a single word," the article read. We cannot help ut wonder, is anyone doing this study here?
For as long as we do not admit the weaknesses of our educational system, nothing will ever come out of attempts to improve it, including this K to 12 basic education program.
Adding more programs without addressing the problems in basic education will just present a compounded problem in the future, when it will already cost much more to unravel the pandemic of illiteracy.
"In order to attain high literacy rates, children should be taught in the first few years of school. Research shows that it is more cost-effective to teach reading in early primary school than in higher levels," the article read.
There is a problem that needs to be addressed, and it cannot be done by simple hyping up read-along sessions by celebrities and volunteers. The problem is in the education system, it should be addressed there. The earlier that this is addressed, the less convoluted the problem will become in the near future.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on June 20, 2017.
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