In spite of English proficiency gains, there’s the lingering challenge to teach our children

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by Totie Mesia

It’s good news! Based on the survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) which polled 1,200 respondents from March 16 to April 2, 2008, Malaya (05/165/08, Hachero) reported Filipino English proficiency has improved in the last two years.

Among the survey’s encouraging findings, our written English proficiency rose from 48% in 2006 compared to 61% this year and spoken English improved from 32% to 48%. A 10% rise from 65% to 75% in reading proficiency was noted for the same period. Our ability to think in English improved from 27% to 38%. The adults’ understanding of spoken English was better at 76% in 2008 compared to 2006’s 65%.

The SWS polling outfit head Mahar Mangahas says the data show a greater awareness of Filipinos to improve their English skills in the workplace.

Ramon del Rosario, Jr., president of the Manila Business Club (MBC,) believes the English proficiency improvement is market-driven since it’s needed in the competitive world of business process outsourcing (BPO.)

The Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP) estimates two years from now, our local BPO may corner 10% share of the global market, and it’ll bring revenue of about US $13 billion. With better competitiveness (i.e. English proficiency,) 700,000 jobs can be added by year 2010 from 2007’s 300,000.

It’s a step forward but we have a long way to go,” said Jamea Garcia, executive director for talent of BPAP.

Garcia added that other countries have been striving to improve the quality of their workforce by strengthening the English proficiency of their workers to become attractive BPO destinations. She said China, Vietnam and Latin American countries are fast becoming important destinations of outsourcing firms.

“We should not be complacent so we can still maintain our advantage,” Garcia said. (abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak, Llanto, 05/15/08)

Yes! In a lot of ways, we must not be complacent. Behind our English proficiency gains, we still have other serious concerns in our educational system which we must relentlessly work for. Just a year ago, we have the following on our hands:

One of every eight public schools has a teacher-to-pupil ratio above 1:50. Only 19 of every 100 public school teachers have confidence and competence to teach English. One of every seven students does not have a classroom. One of every five does not have a desk. One of every three does not have a single textbook. One of every four shares a single set of textbooks. Only one dentist ministers to every 22,500 pupils. As a result, only six of every 1,000 Grade 6 elementary graduates are prepared to enter high school. Only two of every 100 4th year high school students are fit to enter college. Filipino pupils ranked 41st in Science and 42nd in Math among 45 countries tested… about 16.5 million Filipinos are in deteriorating school. About the same number (16.5 million) has dropped.” (Philstar 05/28/07, Bondoc)=0=

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