Compromised education: Probe why DepEd allows nonreaders in high school
Regarding the article “Marcos hits DepEd for lack of effort to end illiteracy among Filipinos” (Inquirer.net, 9/12/19), it may interest Sen. Imee Marcos to know that the ability of the Department of Education (DepEd) to teach reading has been so compromised that nonreaders are spilling into high school for some time now.
In fact, the DepEd just accepted the problem. In his answer to our letter urging President Duterte to intercede in the case of the DepEd’s refusal to acknowledge and act on the proliferation of nonreaders in the secondary level, undersecretary for curriculum and instruction Diosdado San Antonio said: “For example, the existence of nonreaders in high school, which you raised in your letter, does not go unnoticed by the Department. In fact, alleviating such predicament right on the early stages of learning has been a foremost concern.”
We were compelled to seek the intervention of the President because the DepEd ignored the recommendation of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) to discourage the practice of public elementary schools of allowing nonreaders to graduate. The recommendation was contained in a report the PIDS released last February. Truth to tell, up to this writing, the DepEd has yet to comment on the PIDS report.
In his letter, San Antonio assured us that programs and policies to address the reading concern are in place, which begs the question: Why are the nonreaders in high school, then?
We blame the DepEd’s unwillingness and lack of intent to enforce its own standards for the anomaly. In a separate letter replying to the same letter to the President, director Jocelyn Andaya of the curriculum standards development division, a unit in the office of San Antonio, pointed out that in the K-to-12 curriculum, school children are expected to read in Mother Tongue and Filipino in Grade 1, and in English in Grade 2. That a nonreader is not retained in Grade 2 but, on the contrary, is allowed to march through Grade 3 all the way to Grade 6 is the smoking gun on the DepEd’s irresponsibility and utter lack of concern for Filipino school children.
We, therefore, urge Sen. Marcos to initiate an inquiry as to why the DepEd is tolerating the proliferation of nonreaders in both elementary and high school, and likewise to determine the scale of the problem. The second objective is a breeze, because conducting simple spelling tests, even just in Metro Manila public schools, can already give a clear idea of the extent of the mess at the national level, considering that the region is the current No. 2 in Grade 6 and No. 1 in Grade 10 in the National Achievement Test. The DepEd-standardized test is generally accepted as a reliable gauge of academic proficiency.
With the DepEd pathetically fumbling its task of teaching children to read, there simply is no way that illiteracy in this country can be stamped out, until the agency is first fixed.
Tabuk City, Kalinga
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