Statement of DepEd Bicol RD on the recent report about non-readers in Bicol

DepEd Bicol Regional Director Gilbert T. Sadsad has posted the following statement on the recent report about non-readers in Bicol:

We wish to make some clarifications about the report published today in the Philippine Daily Inquirer which stated that Bicol has 70,000 pupils who cannot read.
The reported number of 70,000 is the initial, unvalidated report from the Schools Divisions Offices at the beginning of School Year 2019-2020 (SY 2019-2020.)
For SY 2019-2020 we have a total of 1.61 million enrolled public school learners in the Region. The total population of Grades 3 to 6 is 521,676.
Based on our validated data, about 20,587 pupils out of the 315,161 from Grades 4 to 6 who took the English test and 18,143 of the 336,849 from Grades 3 to 6 who took the Filipino test can be considered as struggling readers.
These numbers are considered as struggling readers based on the tests administered by the Philippine Informal Reading Inventory (Phil-IRI.)
Phil-IRI, which is an initiative of the DepEd’s Bureau of Learning Delivery, only covers Grade 3 to 6. It is an informal reading inventory consisting of graded passages designed to determine a student’s performance in oral reading, silent reading and listening comprehension.
It should be pointed out that the same Grade 4 to 6 pupils who took the English test were the same pupils who took the Filipino test thus the absolute numbers who failed in the two exams could not be combined to arrive at an exact figure.
As mentioned, only Grades 3 to 6 were covered by the tests as there is no standard tool yet for assessing the reading abilities of pupils in Kinder up to Grade 2 and Grade 7 to Grade 12.
DepEd-Bicol is not trying to downplay the report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer but is merely clarifying the figures and the process to present the true picture of the situation.
DepEd-Bicol is giving utmost significance to each and every learner that is why this office has initiated the program dubbed as 5Bs which stands for Bawat Batang Bicolano Bihasang Bumasa.
As stated in Deped-V Regional Memorandum No. 157-2019 the 5Bs aims to establish standards in the planning and implementation of reading intervention programs and encourage schools and divisions’ active response to a national call for strengthening reading instruction.
Currently, DepEd Bicol and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Advancing Basic Education in the Philippines or the ABC+ Project, has partnered to develop initiatives to support these intervention programs of the Region.
We wish to assure the public and all our stakeholders that we at DepEd-Bicol are taking this matter seriously and that we are consistently initiating programs and activities to address this concern.
We also want to assure you that we welcome feedbacks and reactions pertaining to our programs and activities especially those that can further improve our performance as we all aim for a better quality of education for our youth.