What ordinary citizens can do while DepEd, Congress bury their heads in sand
It’s been three weeks since the country was stunned and shamed by its last-place finish in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), and our most concerned officials continue to skirt the foremost reason for our failure.
The various reasons for the fiasco cited by the Department of Education (DepEd) officials and by our legislators — low government spending on education, lack of training for teachers, the curriculum, facilities, poverty and hunger, class size — may have all played a part in our dismal showing.
But the DepEd still has to tell us if any of the other participating countries sabotaged their own chances by maintaining a mass promotion practice and have a swelling population of nonreaders in high school.
While we wait for our decision-makers to make up their minds whether to ditch the mass promotion practice, which could very well rank among the most harmful ideas ever conjured by our education department, we ordinary citizens can act in a variety of ways to fill the gap:
1) Call on high schools not to accept nonreaders and frustration-level readers starting June. The open-door policy of high schools for students who have not mastered the basic literacy skills abets the production of nonreaders. The prospect of not being able to enroll in any high school in the locality if one has not learned to read could motivate a child to cooperate with his teachers in the effort to make him acquire the skill. The possibility that they will have graduates with nowhere to go because of the students’ inability to read will also compel elementary schools to do their utmost best to teach all their students to read.
2) Conduct searches with monetary rewards for public elementary schools with no nonreaders in Grade 6, to encourage them to double time in teaching their pupils to read and likewise assess the extent of the nonreader and frustration-reader problem in the locality. This is also a means to raise public awareness about the problem.
3) To address the practice of mass promotion, ask your regional office to issue an order mandating that, henceforth, no student who has not acquired all the competencies prescribed in the K-to-12 curriculum for the grade shall be promoted. All the candidates for promotion should pass through a transparent quality control process to be administered jointly with private sector representatives. Even without the knowledge of the DepEd national office, regional offices can issue the policy because it is a mere application of the curriculum, and it would be the height of absurdity for the DepEd national office to go against the curriculum it is supposed to implement.
4) Conduct signature campaigns to prod the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Office of the President to immediately act on the mass promotion policy of the DepEd and the proliferation of nonreaders.
Estanislao Albano, Jr.
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