PASIG CITY, October 8, 2019 – Teachers will remain indispensable in the fight for quality education despite the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies advanced by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

This was the assurance of Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones when she addressed thousands of teachers during the national celebration of the 2019 World Teachers’ Day (WTD) last October 5 at the Limketkai Atrium.

Even as the standards of quality and the way people learn have transformed in the 21st century, Briones emphasized that “the battle for quality basic education will be fought and won in our classrooms, by our teachers. Ultimately, it is in the classrooms where the day-to-day learning of our students happen.”

The Secretary further emphasized that expectations for learning outcomes are no longer confined to reading, writing, and counting. With myriad types and sources of information available to learners, they should now be able to read, comprehend, analyze, process, and integrate from multiple sources – whether digital or in print.

“This is what the 21st century skills in the K to 12 curriculum are all about. It is not enough for learners to have mastery of concepts ad subject matter. They also need to have digital literacy, and have the skills for problem solving and critical thinking,” she remarked.

Battle vs low education quality
As the Department pivots from improving access to enhancing the quality of education, the Secretary reported the low proficiency levels attained by Grade 6, 10, and 12 learners in all subject areas and 21st century skills in the latest National Achievement Test (NAT). Low proficiency means learners, on average, were able to correctly answer between three and five questions for every 10 questions in NAT.

The Education chief added that the Department already anticipates the said result to be confirmed by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which the country joined for the first time in 2018.

According to her, the challenge is for teachers to think of innovative ways of teaching. To enable teachers to keep pace with the changes and respond to these challenges, one of the Department’s initiatives is the transformation of the National Educators Academy of the Philippines (NEAP) where profession development program and career progression for teachers will be strengthened.

“Today, education quality is our biggest concern. While investing in education has produced major gains in access to education, the evidence is clear that the quality of our learning outcomes leaves so much to be desired. I reach out to all our teachers and school leaders, seek your support, to renew everyone’s commitment and motivation for an all-out effort for education quality,” Briones concluded.