The World Bank on Friday apologized to the Philippine government for “inadvertently” publishing a controversial report on the country’s education system ahead of schedule, after government officials criticized the findings.
“We deeply regret that the report on education was inadvertently published earlier than scheduled and before the Department of Education had enough chance to provide inputs. This was an oversight on our part, and we conveyed our personal apologies in our communication with the government,” the multilateral said in a statement on its website.
The World Bank also said it has temporarily removed the report titled “Improving Student Learning Outcomes and Well-Being in the Philippines: What Are International Assessments Telling Us? (Vol.2): Synthesis Report Presentation” from its website.
This comes after Education Secretary Leonor M. Briones on Monday demanded for a public apology from the World Bank, saying the country “was insulted, was shamed” by the report.
Ms. Briones said the report, which used three global assessments from 2018 to 2019, was based on an outdated data. She also lamented that the World Bank failed to give government officials an advance copy of the report.
Originally uploaded on June 29, the World Bank study found that the Philippine education sector faces a crisis that may have been made worse by the pandemic, noting that more than 80% of Filipino children “do not know what they should know.”
It traced the poor performance of students to their limited proficiency in the languages used in instruction; as well as to the “unacceptably poor school climate, with high levels of bullying.”
“We are aware of the Department’s various efforts and programs to address the challenge of education quality. We agree with the Department that the issue of quality has a long historical context, and support its demonstrated commitment to resolve it decisively,” the World Bank said.
The Department of Finance on Thursday backed Ms. Briones’ call for a public apology from the World Bank.
The Washington-based lender has been supporting the country as a development partner for about four decades. Ms. Briones has noted the World Bank has lent about $700 million to the Philippines since 1981.
Earlier this week, the Philippine Business for Education warned the sector is “in serious crisis”, with the disruptions caused by the pandemic further worsening the situation for Filipino learners. — Luz Wendy T. Noble