Mass stupidity (1)


Filipino 15-year-olds are among the most stupid teeners on earth.

They cannot count beyond the number 20. They cannot read. If they can read at all, they cannot understand what they read. And they don’t know science, the how and why of things.

These conclusions are validated once more by the 2022 results of tests conducted among 15-year-olds of 81 participating countries in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Filipino students were the third worst in the world in scores in science and the sixth worst, in the world, in reading and math scores, in the 2022 PISA exercise whose results were released last week.

Being only the world’s No. 3 worst (in science) or No. 6 worst (in math and reading) is supposed to be an improvement. In the previous iteration of PISA in 2018, Filipinos were the last or No. 1 or No. 2 in being the worst in math, science and reading.

In the Philippines, 7,193 students (representing 83% of the total population of 15-year-old Filipinos) from 188 schools took the 2022 three tests, each taking two hours. Tests were a mix of multiple-choice questions and requiring students to construct their own responses.

The main reason for the consistently poor Philippine PISA performance?  Poverty.

The Philippines sent the largest number of poor students, defined as the lowest 20% in socio-economic class. One of every three (36 percent) Philippine participants came from a poor family, the highest ratio among the 81 participating countries. Being poor they were also malnourished.

The other reason for our youngsters being the laughing stock, intellectually, of their global peers is – government neglect.

Under the Philippine Constitution, education gets the highest budgetary allocation yearly. During the Rodrigo Duterte administration, from 2016 to 2022, the Department of Education (DepEd) received a total of P3.732 trillion, the equivalent of 18% of annual GDP (economic output) of P20 trillion. The breakdown of the education budget (in billions) by year: 2016: P435.9; 2017: P544.1; 2018: P553.2; 2019: P531.6; 2020: P520.3; 2021: P556.4 and 2022: P591.2 billion.

What did our youngsters, the hope of our fatherland, get for all that money, a whopping P3.7 trillion in six years?  Nothing. Except mass stupidity.

It was during the six-year presidency of Digong Duterte that our teeners’ performance in math, science and reading deteriorated rapidly. So massive is the decline that we have today in our midst close to 25 million zombies, humans walking brainless every day.

During the Duterte years (2016-2022), our students also learned that it was OK to curse the US president (for meddling), as well as the Pope himself (for causing traffic). In fact, it also became OK to kill from 6,000 to 27,000 people, all in the name of cleaning society of human drug dregs.

Bad Filipino English

Noted economist Ciel Habito offers another excuse for the Filipino students’ poor PISA performance – bad English, taught badly. He notes that the medium of instruction in our public schools is the dominant language in the region – Ilocano in Ilocandia, Cebuano in the Visayas and Mindanao, and Tagalog in central and southern Luzon. And the PISA tests were conducted in English, correct English.

Henceforth, the Philippines, to improve scores, wants that the PISA tests in math, science and reading use the native tongues of the local regions.

If English is the problem, however, why did the Singaporeans do so brilliantly, in PISA tests, No. 1 in the world, in all three categories – math, science and reading?  Singapore has three official languages – English, Mandarin and Bahasa.

A non-English speaking ASEAN nation performed the best in the region, ex-Singapore. Vietnam, a country that did not exist 48 years ago, is No. 6 in the world in being best in science and best in reading, and No. 5 in being the best in math.

If the three factors – poverty, government neglect and bad English – are to blame for the sustained stupidity of our students, this means there is only one, and just one, to blame – the government.  Specifically, the Department of  Education.

Presently, DepEd is headed by a very educated lawyer, Vice President Sara Duterte, the second highest official of the land.

Tabula rasa

Her first order at DepEd is to remove all visuals or posters posted or pasted on walls of schoolrooms. So schoolroom walls literally became tabula rasa – nothing on them, a great metaphor for having blank brains.

Sara has also become notorious for trying, unsuccessfully, to get more confidential and intelligence funds than the CIF budgets of our security and intelligence agencies.

Now, CIF is clearly misplaced intelligence. We are talking about intelligence, as in brain; not about intelligence fund as in lack of information (intelligence info) to fight the enemies of the state.

“Intelligence funds,” being what they are, are not used to bolster one’s intelligence, one’s grey matter; they are used to line one’s pocket or boost one’s political following. So that in the next election, one can aspire for a higher position (which usually has a bigger budget and bigger intelligence fund). Of course, you can expect to be elected because the electorate does not know any better. Why? Because the Filipino youth are the biggest voting bloc (60% of voters are below 24) and they happen to be the most stupid people on earth.

Stupid people tend to vote the wrong people. They also have very low integrity threshold (easy to bribe) because stupid people have very low self-esteem.

Also, stupid people have no sense of outrage. They don’t know how to get angry at bad Education officials. They don’t know how to defenestrate corrupt and incompetent government officials.

That is why we will never have the real revolution in this country – that of rescuing our young from the abyss of ignorance and massive stupidity.                                   

— Philstar, Dec. 14, 2023

Mass stupidity (2)


Of the topics and issues I have tackled in this corner, none has been more viral and controversial than my Dec. 14 column on “Mass Stupidity.”

The column has ruffled feathers among the high and mighty in government. The problem is, they don’t know how to solve the problem.

I wrote that Filipino 15-year-olds are among the most stupid teeners on earth. They cannot count beyond 20. They cannot read. If ever they can read, they don’t understand what they read. They don’t know science, the how and why of things.

The conclusions are based on the 2022 results of tests in science, math and reading in which 15-year-olds from 81 countries participated, under the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) of the OECD, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Among the 81 countries, the Philippines ranked 79th (or third worst) in science and 76th (sixth worst) in both reading and math. In the 2018 PISA, the Philippines either scored last or next to the last, among 78 countries.

In the 2022 test results announced this year, the Philippines (represented by 7,193 15-year-olds from 188 Philippine schools) scored 356 in science – 129 points lower than the mean score (for all 81 countries) of 485, and 205 points lower than the 561 grade of the topnotcher country, Singapore.

Below global average in science, math, and reading

In science competence, Filipino 15-year-olds are 27% below average in the world, and 37% below that of young Singaporeans. Worldwide, in the science tests, the Philippines beat only No. 81 Cambodia, 347, by 9 points and No. 80 Uzbekistan, 355, by one point.

The Philippine math score was 355 – 117 points below the global mean of 472 points, and 220 points lower than the 575 of Singapore, again the topnotcher. In math competence, Filipino teeners are 38% below that of Singaporeans and 25% below the global average.

Worldwide, in math tests, the Philippines beat only No. 81 Cambodia, 329, by 19 points; No. 80 Paraguay, 338, by 17 points; No. 79 Dominican Republic, 339, by 16 points; No. 78 El Salvador, 343, by 12 points; No. 77 Guatemala, 344, by 11 points.

Filipinos scored 347 in reading, 129 points below the global mean of 476 and 196 points below the 543 of Singaporeans, the topnotcher. In reading comprehension, Filipino 15-year-olds are 27% below the global average, and 36% behind the reading comprehension of Singaporeans.

In reading, the Philippines beat only No. 81 Cambodia, 329, by 18 points; No. 80 Uzbekistan, 336, by 11 points; No. 79 Morocco, 339, by 8 points; No. 78 Jordan, 342, by 5 points; No. 77 Kosovo, 342, by 5 points.

In competence and brain power – in science, math and reading – young Filipinos thus are among the world’s worst laggards. They are in the garbage dump of the global intellectual totem pole.

Government to blame

I blame the government for the epidemic stupidity. Under the Constitution, elementary and high school education are free. While free, our elementary and high school education are the world’s worst in quality.  After eight to ten years of schooling, our young learn nothing. Zilch. Zero.

I also blame the parents or the lack of parenthood. A third of 24 million households have a single parent. The other parent is either divorced, separated or has gone to work abroad, victims of so-called economic and social diaspora.

Two years before I entered public elementary school I could read and understand what I was reading, thanks to my titas, who literally cracked the whip, and Manila’s extensive public library system where I spent hours daily. I could count up to 100, at least, because P100 was the monthly minimum wage in my time as a pupil when two pesos could fetch one dollar.

Our textbooks were imported, hard bound and in gleaming white book paper. Later, the exchange rate became four pesos to one dollar. The Philippines was rich and Filipinos were among the most talented people on earth.

The Philippine Senate today

In the 24-member Senate of yesteryears, half of the senators were Bar topnotchers and legal luminaries. Today, in the Senate, half of the senators are entertainers (tv and movie luminaries, with a couple behaving like dropouts), if not related to one another by blood. The Senate is our highest policy-making body whose members are nationally elected. The senators are our educated class.

In public high school in Tondo in my time, our teachers in English, Math, Science, Physics, Chemistry and Journalism had master’s degrees. We learned Music with a grand piano, Carpentry with all the tools of the trade (not the Makita brand though) and Automotive with a real car engine.  Later, these teachers all disappeared and flew in droves to the US, which was awash with green cards.

The Philippine public educational system has been hollowed out, by indifference, incompetence and corruption.

Is there hope? Ask the senators.  Please don’t laugh with the answers.

 — Philstar, Dec. 21, 2023