Press Release
December 6, 2019

Low global student assessment results rooted in hunger among Filipino children: Pangilinan

MANILA - The low ranking of the Philippines in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is rooted in hunger among Filipino children, Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said Thursday.

Results of PISA, which primarily "measures 15-year-olds' ability to use their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges," showed that among 79 participating economies, the Philippines ranked lowest in reading and second lowest in both mathematics and science.

"Naniniwala akong resulta rin ito ng gutom sa mga batang Pilipino na marami ay underweight, stunting, or even wasting," Pangilinan said.

One in five Filipino children (19.1%) under five years old is underweight, one in three (30.3%) is stunting, and one in 18 (5.6%) is wasting, says the latest figures from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI).

FNRI's Expanded National Nutrition Survey -- conducted every five years in 2018 and released on Nutrition Month this past July -- also finds that one in four adolescents (over 10 years old to 19) is stunting and one in nine is wasting.

According to Unicef, "stunting, or low height for age, is caused by long-term insufficient nutrient intake and frequent infections. Stunting generally occurs before age two, and effects are largely irreversible. These include delayed motor development, impaired cognitive function and poor school performance.

"Wasting, or low weight for height, is a strong predictor of mortality among children under five. It is usually the result of acute significant food shortage and/or disease."

"Kapag gutom ang bata, paano natin siya ma-expect na makapag-aral nang maayos?" Pangilinan asked.

"Tungkulin nating lahat -- nasa loob at labas ng gobyerno -- na siguraduhing merong sapat at abot-kayang pagkain para sa lahat ng Pilipino. Yan ang ibig sabihin ng pagiging food secure," said the former Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization.

Pangilinan also noted that hunger occurs the most in the agriculture and fishing sectors where 70 percent of workers are poor.

"Hindi tama na ang nagpapakain sa atin ang nagugutom. Pag lumala ng lumala ang sitwasyon, wala ng magpapakain sa atin," said Pangilinan, whose principal advocacy is raising the incomes of Filipino food producers and raising their standard of living.

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