By Nora O. Gamolo
Many people have deplored the dwindling quality of education in the Philippines. Yet, even with these dismal figures, some of the country's best students manage to bag significant acclaim in international student competitions. This year, Filipino students' participating in the 2012 International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) earned two bronzes.
Said to be the hardest mathematics competition in the world, the 2012 IMO competition was held on July 4-16 in Mar del Plata, Argentina.
The latest medalists are Kenneth Co of Philippine Science High School – Diliman and Mikaela Angeline Uy of Saint Jude Catholic School who each scored 14 points to carry on the country’s streak of garnering at least a bronze medal in the 2012 IMO.
Henry Jefferson Morco of Chang Kai Shek College secured an honorable mention after netting 13 points. He was a bronze medalist in the 2011 IMO tilt.
The Philippine contingent was composed of the winners of the 14th Philippine Mathematical Olympiad (PMO) co-organized by the Science Education Institute – Department of Science and Technology (SEI-DOST) and the Mathematical Society of the Philippines (MSP).
The competing students were guided by Team Leader Dr. Julius Basilia and Deputy Team Leader Dr. Job Nable, both MSP members.
Co also joined last year's IMO tilt and obtained 12 points. Uy is a first timer in the IMO, but stood out as a winner among the 52 females out of the 548 total participants of the competition.
This year’s performance ties that of the country’s 1991 medal heave which ranks as the second highest haul of medals in our history. In 2011, Filipino students garnered three bronzes, deemed to be the Philippines' best performance since it joined the IMO in 1988.
SEI Director Dr. Filma G. Brawner congratulated the students for again prevailing in such a highly-competitive Mathematics Olympiad.
“It brings us great joy and pride that this recent haul of medals in the extremely difficult IMO signifies the continuous improvement of our students in mathematics. We can be optimistic that in the coming years, our performance will only get better,” Brawner said.
Brawner ensured that SEI shall continue its support in the country’s participation in the IMO as well as in organizing the PMO to provide our many gifted students in science and mathematics an avenue to nurture their skills.
“We are committed to maintain this winning tradition through various support programs as we recognize these students’ key roles in bolstering our pool of S&T professionals. We surely welcome them and their gifts in the science family and hope that they take part in
motivating others in joining us as well,” Brawner remarked.
The IMO lifts up the mood of Filipinos smarting from international tests results like 2003 TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) that ranked the Philippines 34th out of 38 countries in HS II Math, and 43rd out of 46 countries in HS II Science.
For Grade 4, the Philippines ranked 23rd out of 25 participating countries in both Math and Science. While the international average score was 495, the Philippines earned only 358 points, just above Morocco and Tunisia.
Even with students from science high schools participating in the Advanced Mathematics category, the Philippines was ranked lowest.
Meanwhile, the Philippines did not participate in the 2007 TIMMS, which was participated in by 59 nations and 425,000 students.
TIMSS is an international assessment of the mathematics and science knowledge of fourth grade and eighth grade students around the world. It was developed by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) to allow participating nations to compare students' educational achievement across borders. It was first administered in 1995, and every four years thereafter.
Testing was done for the 2011 TIMSS, and the results are expected to be published this year. (With material from Mark Ivan Roblas/DOST-SEI/S&T Media Service)