Department of Education’s blame game

04:01 AM January 06, 2020

Since the results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) came out, where the Philippines fared worst among 79 countries in reading comprehension and second lowest in both mathematical and scientific literacy, the Department of Education (DepEd) has been making incoherent and nonsensical responses, adding more insult to injury rather than assuaging the anguish of the Filipino reeling from this monumental embarrassment.

Instead of humbly acknowledging and directly admitting that the dismal result is a clear indication of the nation’s failed state of education, the DepEd has the temerity to lay the blame somewhere else, and could only issue motherhood statements that fail to address the real issues.


Education Secretary Leonor Briones has cited curriculum content, lack of facilities, high levels of poverty, even hunger as among the factors (“Poor Pisa scores a wake-up call for PH education system—DepEd chief,” 12/10/19).

Briones also put the blame on the government’s spending on education. Yet these were all debunked by the commentary of Grace Shangkuan Koo (“Why PH’s dismal Pisa results were no surprise,” 12/10/19) stating that poorer countries like Kosovo and Moldova ranked higher than the Philippines in the 2018 Pisa. Neither was government spending to blame.


In the same commentary, Koo’s interviewee, Dr. Andreas Schleicher, head of Pisa, said back in 2011: “Pisa result was not about how much a country is spending on education, but where it is spent. The top-ranking countries do not spend the most for education, but they spend a good portion on recruiting and sustaining the best teachers.”

It appeared that the official stance of the DepEd national officials was to blame every Pilate on earth except themselves.

In an apparent attempt to cushion the impact of the Pisa results, the DepEd launched its reform program called Sulong Edukalidad last Dec. 3, before releasing the Pisa report the next day. The program has four reform areas called KITE, which stands for: 1) K-to-12 Curriculum review and update; 2) Improvement of learning environment 3) Teachers’ upskilling and reskilling; and 4) Engagement of stakeholders for support and collaboration.

While this looks good to the eyes and sounds noble to the ears, it comes off only as an empty rhetorical response to a crisis that demands immediate decisive action. It is a technocratic top-to-bottom program that aims to showcase motion instead of action, and activity without power.

Unless definite action plans are crafted by the DepEd officials, the Sulong Edukalidad reform and KITE will only remain a vision waiting to be realized, a strategy that needs to be applied.

While there are no quick fixes, the DepEd can and should adopt measures and take decisive steps within its powers to address the pressing issues hounding our nation’s quality of education.

President and Head Pastor
Holy Chapel Evangelical Fellowship
La Trinidad, Benguet
[email protected]


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TAGS: DepEd, Frederick T. Munda, Inquirer letters, mathematical and scientific literacy, reading comprehension
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