Department of Education ‘to blame’ for reading crisis
In “Why can’t our students read?” (3/30/19), Neni Sta. Romana Cruz ascribed to teachers much of the blame for the problem of nonreaders in our public schools, going as far as to ask if teachers are competent readers themselves. She was barking up the wrong tree.
First, our public school teachers come from the same schools as our private school teachers and there are no nonreaders in Grade 2 in private schools. Second, there was a time when it was ordinary for Grade 1 teachers in our public schools to have all their pupils able to read in English at the end of the school year.
The reading crisis affecting our public schools is the result of blunders of the Department of Education (DepEd), starting with that harebrained decision to scrap the time-tested “No Read, No Move” rule for Grade 1 sometime in the early 2000s.
Because of the rule, all the stakeholders cooperated to ensure that a child will not get stuck in first grade. The urgency of the passage to literacy harnessed the role of the home as the first source of learning and active participants in the education of the child. Provided the pupils had normal IQs, the Grade 1 teachers were held responsible for the pupils’ inability to read at the end of the school year. Their performance rating depended on the presence or absence of nonreaders in their classes at closing time, thus they did everything humanly possible to teach their pupils to read. Of course, the stigma of being left behind by his peers and be branded dumb motivated the child to fully cooperate in the endeavor.
The very idea of changing old procedures is to get things done easier, better and faster. Not so with the DepEd. Relative to the issue of the reading timetable, the DepEd resembles a farmer who exchanged his carabao for a machine that enables him to prepare his farm in thrice the number of days he could do the task using his good old carabao.
As though moving back the reading demarcation line by two grades was not enough, the DepEd is not seeing to it that that border effectively stops nonreaders from proceeding further. The DepEd is not treating the target of having zero nonreaders in Grade 4 with the seriousness it deserves. When the old policy was in place, supervisors validated if indeed all the pupils could read by personally testing the reading skills of the children in surprise and random visits to Grade 1 classrooms.
These days, it appears that from the district all the way up to the DepEd national office, what the teachers and the schools report regarding the reading competence of pupils is swallowed hook, line and sinker, with no one having the common sense to check on the veracity of the reports.
ESTANISLAO ALBANO JR.,
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