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Mahirap mag-aral pag gutom: Kiko Pangilinan says malnutrition could be behind PH’s poor educational performance

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The low ranking of the Philippines in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is rooted in “hunger” among Filipino children, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan said on Thursday.

The PISA “measures 15-year-olds’ ability to use their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges,”

The 2018 PISA results showed that the Philippines ranked lowest in reading and second lowest in both mathematics and science among the 79 countries which participated in the survey.

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

“Kapag gutom ang bata, paano natin siya ma-expect na makapag-aral nang maayos?” he asked.

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

One in five Filipino children (19.1 percent) under five years old is underweight, one in three (30.3 percent) is stunting, and one in 18 (5.6 percent) is wasting, according to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI).

According to the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (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.

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