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Kris-Crossing Mindanao

Unhallowing the DepEd (2)

A reader, John Evans, emailed me last week, and I would like to quote his exact words: “I am English and have been here since February 2020. My children are currently grades four and six respectively. The modules being given have (all had) errors contained within them: very poor use of English, even in English modules; questions in modules are repeated; questions asked to the grade six were totally out of her understanding and more suitable for high school. It related to political views; answer keys giving incorrect information.”

As I wrote earlier, this is not the first time the Department of Education (DepEd) drew flak for error-filled learning materials, even textbooks distributed before the pandemic.

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In 2006, together with a small research team, I was tasked to review some learning materials published by the DepEd through the Peace Education Teaching Exemplars, a collaborative project between the DepEd and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. Most of the materials were published locally in several parts of Mindanao. Our team was quite bothered by several expressions of biased views included in a teaching exemplar for Grade 2 pupils. It included the following dialogue between two grade 2 pupils:

Pupil A to Pupil B: “Magandang umaga, klasmeyt!” (Good morning, classmate!)

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Pupil B: “Anong maganda sa umaga! Wala naman!” (There is nothing good in the morning!)

The exemplar went on to use the exchange of the two pupils as an example of conflicts that take place in the home, and how children are affected by these. But there was something unusual behind that exchange, our team thought. We thought that was a biased perspective on the part of the exemplar writer. Usually, expressions like that of Pupil B are not something we hear from young children of seven or eight years old. For us, it was teaching young children to be cynical, instead of highlighting what constitutes a peaceful environment at home.

Another exemplar asked pupils to describe the “tunog ng tren” (sound of a train) when at that time and until now, there are no trains in Mindanao.

Then and now, the DepEd continues to claim their quality assurance of learning materials that avowedly go through a “three-step review process.” How this supposed to be stringent review process allowed the procurement, publication, and distribution of error-filled learning materials speaks volumes of the extent of anomalies practiced in an institution promoting the education of children. Several studies (Poocharoen and Brillantes, 2013; and Chua-Reyes, 2009) on corruption in the basic education sector have found that aside from patronage, nepotism, and bribery, among the more common anomalous practices “include the awarding of textbook contracts on the basis of applicants’ political and family ties rather than individual merit.”

The DepEd has recently received flak over its use of value judgment statements that maligned an individual who is among this year’s presidential candidates, Vice President Leni Robredo. These materials smack of a deliberate attempt to question her integrity and credibility first as a person, then as the country’s vice president, in the guise of asking students for the most grammatically constructed headline of news reports.

DepEd apologized for this oversight, then committed to retrieve the hard copies of these modules and delete them from internet-based learning portals. But it seems no one can be held accountable for this serious indiscretion, as the writer of the module has reportedly died after the materials were distributed in September 2020.

Is this a convenient excuse for the DepEd to shirk from its responsibility of reviewing learning materials before they are distributed to the learners, and before writers of error-filled modules pass away? What about the living among the DepEd functionaries who allowed this module to be reproduced and distributed?

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Recognizing that the DepEd has gone through various iterations of reform agendas, these newly reported anomalies tell us that such reforms have not transformed it; instead, it has shown that it is no longer the hallowed institution it is mandated to be.

Comments to [email protected]

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TAGS: DepEd, Kris-Crossing Mindanao, Rufa Cagoco-Guiam
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