Study: Over 50% of Pinoy IT students lack programming skills

By Ike Suarez

The very first assessment of competencies of college students in the Philippines majoring in information technology courses showed that over 50% of those who took the test lack basic entry-level programming skills that meet globally acceptable standards.


This is according to Joey Gurango, former president of the Philippine Software Industry of the Philippines (PSIA). His technology company, Gurango Software Corp. (GSC), administered the first Proxor examinations in the Philippines from October 2015 to September 2016.

The second set of examinations, which is now being undertaken, will target an expanded number of Philippine colleges and universities.

Proxor is an assessment tool developed by the computer science department of Carnegie Mellon University in the 1990s. The set of examinations, which could take as long as six hours to complete, require examinees to solve problems by coding, debugging, and compiling in an IDE environment.

IDE or Integrated Development Environment is a suite of software that consolidates basic tools developers need to author computer programs. It is vendor-neutral and program-agnostic .

Proxor was commercialized in 2011 and became available in North America in 2012. In October 2015, it became available in the Philippines with GSC as its distributor.

Gurango is CEO and CTO (chief technology officer) of GSC, a technology company that specializes in development of enterprise systems applications for specific clients in the Philippines and abroad.

Gurango recently made available to technology journalists the results of the first examinations where a total of 558 students from 10 colleges and universities in Metro Manila and 18 other colleges outside Metro Manila participated.

Of these examinees, 61% were Bachelor of Science in Information Technology majors, 38% were Bachelor of Computer Science majors, and 1% were majoring in other IT-related technical programs.

The Proxor exams were administered for free by GSC with the use of the exam software, which was also provided free of charge. The grading system for those who took and completed the set of examinations consists of the following:

• Proxor 1 or Very High Confidence,
• Proxor 2 or High Confidence,
• Proxor 3 or Confidence,
• Proxor 4 or Evidence Not That Strong, and
• Unrated

Ratings of Proxor 1 or 2 mean the examinee can develop software that meets or even exceeds globally acceptable entry-level standards. A Proxor 3 rating means the examinee can develop software at acceptable entry-level standards. A Proxor 4 rating means the examinee may be able to develop software that meets globally accepted standards. However, evidence of such is not that strong.

An Unrated result means that evidence is lacking that an examinee correctly solved any of the tasks assigned in the exam. It is still possible he or she could develop software, but there is no evidence to prove this.

The results showed that 52 % of the Philippine Proxor examinees got results of Unrated. On the other hand, 0.5 % received Proxor 1 ratings, while another 4% received Proxor 2 ratings.

The percentage of examinees who received Proxor 3 ratings was 28 % even as the percentage of examinees who scored Proxor 4 ratings was 15 %.

The Proxor 3 ratings percentage of Filipino students who took the exams was one percent lower than the global percentage rating of 29%. Global Proxor 1 and Proxor 2 percentage ratings stood at 3% and 15%, respectively. Global percentage for Proxor 4 ratings was 18% while those for Unrated were 35%.

All Filipinos who scored Proxor 1 ratings were males. Of those who scored Proxor 2 ratings, 83% were males and 17% females. Of those who scored Proxor 3 ratings, 78% were males and 22 % females.

The percentages of males who garnered Proxor 4 ratings was 66%, while that for females was 34%. Those with Unrated scores were mostly males at 60%.

Students from the University of the Philippines system, Ateneo de Manila University, and De La Salle University — considered the “Big Three” in the country in terms of academic excellence — did not take the Proxor exams.

“Given that their CS and IT population represents less that 1% of the country’s total student population, their participation or non-participation would not have been significant,” Gurango explained to Newsbytes.PH.

He said participation by the schools was voluntary with the examinees volunteering or recommended by their respective schools.

Statistics made available by Gurango showed that there are presently over 227,000 students enrolled in Bachelor of Science in IT and Bachelor of Computer Science and other IT-related technology courses. At the same time, there are 1019 colleges and universities in the Philippines offering such courses.

“It does not appear to be very positive; I will let others arrive at their own conclusions based on the data presented,” Gurango said.

He said the second examinations have started with 100 schools and 1,500 schools targeted for participation. Gurango said the PSIA would assist participating schools to improve their curriculum to address deficiencies identified by their students’ Proxor assessments.



    February 2, 2017 at 10:36 PM


  2. Sanz

    February 3, 2017 at 9:36 AM

    this proxor exam leans on java… if you could say that 50% of IT students lack programming skill based in this proxor assessment, the most accurate thing to say would be that these 50% lack fluency in java language… verbosity does not equal analytical/programming skill and students sometimes prefer other languages, and not every IT student pursues software engineering, some go web development or network administration or project manager or multimedia/ animation… 50% is not that negative, its actually very promising 🙂 #keepcoding

    • myiasis

      February 5, 2017 at 4:08 AM

      If I am to look at the schools here in my area. I’d say it’s pretty accurate, in fact, I could even say it should be more than 50%. I’m not trying to be negative here or look down on my fellow programmers here, but the vast majority of the students who graduated IT and CS lack the necessary skills to program even a simple calculator in any languages (Java, C#, VB, C++) or write a simple web page with html, CSS and scripts.

      I think the way programming courses are taught should be revised. Todays students have easy access to internet resources, that is fine and all but the problem is it makes them dependent on the technology. Every problem they come across, they simple go to the internet to solve it for them, completely missing the point of learning.

      However, the problem alone isn’t simply the students dependence on the internet. The fact the student is depending on other resources may also mean that the professor/teacher is failing to convey the knowledge properly.

      And in the case here in my area, one of the problems is that the teachers themselves doesn’t have a full grasp on programming(or what they are teaching). They simply follow “modules” found on the web or internet video tutorials.

      I know the professors doesn’t exactly have an easy life, but given the rapidly evolving field they are teaching, they ought to know basics and at least have some idea of the latest features.
      For example, a teacher in java should at least know how to use lambda expressions. The thing is, the teachers here doesn’t even know what is a lambda expression, and that is just sad.

      One also problem with the way programming courses are taught is simply, they don’t teach the students or show the students how to apply these knowledge into real applications(not mock applications). Also, they don’t teach us how to fully use these knowledge.

      For example, professors teach the students java using netbeans and uses the Drag-n-drop functionality to build an application. The problem is, they don’t teach the students how these GUI are created, or how to create one from scratch. It becomes a problem because the student doesn’t understand the workings underneath the hood.

      And the thing is, the professor himself/herself, doesn’t fully understand the code underneath.

      TLDR; The reason for the programming incompetence of IT and CS students is because:
      1. Some students aren’t exactly motivated to learn how to program.
      *Some students simply took CS or IT course because they love USING computers.
      *Some students simply took CS or IT course because they love GAMES not creating games.
      2. Reason #2:
      *Students relies to much on the internet to solve their problems (Not learn from it)
      3. Reason #3:
      *The teacher understands the theory, but can’t practice their teaching (doesn’t fully understand).

    • mike

      November 30, 2017 at 10:26 AM

      Proxor does not test your Java skills, just logic/coding skills, e.g. how to parse “=AVG(C1:C5)” on a spreadsheet.

      Java was chosen due to its popularity, but anyone who can code in other languages should do well in Proxor.

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