NCR literacy rate still highest in PHL, but dips in latest PSA poll

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THE basic literacy rate in Metro Manila, while being the highest, has declined, according to the latest Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS) released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Based on the data, the basic literacy rate in the National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila was at 99.3 percent, lower than the 99.5 percent.

The PSA noted that the literacy rates in 2019 are significantly lower than their corresponding values in 2013. The basic literacy rate in Cagayan Valley was 96.2 percent, lower than the 97.9 percent in 2013.

Meanwhile, the data showed that basic literacy rates were higher than their corresponding values in 2013, at 5-percent significance, in Northern Mindanao and the Davao Region.

Basic literacy rates in Northern Mindanao improved to 98.188 percent in 2019 from 95.4 percent in 2013; while the data in Davao region improved to 96.7 percent from 95.2 percent.

Female literacy

In terms of gender, the results of the FLEMMS showed that the basic literacy rates of females in Metro Manila and Cagayan Valley decelerated in 2019 from 2013.

Data showed females in Metro Manila had a basic literacy rate of 99.4 percent in 2019, lower than the 99.7 percent posted in 2013. Those in Cagayan Valley had a basic literacy rate of 96.4 percent in 2019, also lower than the 98.4 percent posted in 2013.

However, data showed the literacy rate improved among males and females, particularly in Northern Mindanao and Davao Region. There was also an improvement in the literacy rate among females in Western Visayas.

In terms of age groups, the basic literacy rate was lower among those aged 50 to 59 years old at 93.9 percent in 2019, from 95.1 in 2013. The rate was higher among the 10 to 14 year olds at 98 percent from 97.4 percent.

“The difference in basic literacy among males between the two years is 0.2 percentage points, This difference is not statistically significant. This means that one cannot conclude that basic literacy among males 10 years and over has become worse in recent years,” PSA Assistant National Statistician Wilma Guillen explained to BusinessMirror.

“Some studies on children — at most 14 years old — show possible decline in basic literacy, though the reference period may not exactly be the same (because of the) profile of out-of- school youth children in the Philippines (and some) are still left behind in basic education,” she added.

Overall, the PSA said 94 of every 100 Filipinos 5 years old and over are basic-literate in 2019, according to the results of the 2019 FLEMMS.

PSA said females posted higher basic literacy at 94.5 percent compared to males at 93.2 percent. Across regions, the National Capital Region (NCR) registered the highest basic literacy rate at 97.6 percent, while the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) had the lowest at 78.7 percent.

By age group, the population 15 to 19 years old had the highest basic literacy rate at 98.6 percent, while those belonging to the 5 to 9 age group had the lowest at 73.2 percent.

Guillen said that while there are countries in the world that have 100 percent basic literacy — such as Armenia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Russian Federation, and Slovenia — the data is not compatible with the Philippines.

“Countries with 100 percent basic literacy — for 15 years old and over — are not comparable to the Philippines which is 10 years old and over,” Guillen said.

By worker class

Employed and unemployed Filipinos 15 years old and over had the same basic literacy rate at 96.1 percent. By class of worker, those who worked for the government or any government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) had the highest basic literacy rate at 99.3 percent, while those who worked without pay in their own family-operated farm or business had the lowest at 91.9 percent.

Filipinos 5 years old and over who had access to electricity were reported to have higher basic literacy at 94.4 percent than those without access, at 82.1 percent.

Likewise, those living in urban areas, with or without access to electricity, posted higher basic literacy rate at 95.9 percent and 88.3 percent, respectively, compared with those in rural areas at 92.5 percent and 79.1 percent, respectively).

The FLEMMS 2019 is a nationwide household-based survey and one of the designated statistical activities of the PSA by virtue of Executive Order 352.