Golden opportunity to do real spring cleaning in the Deped
The Senate blue ribbon committee report has stated that there was conspiracy in the purchase of laptops by the Department of Education (DepEd), which resulted in an overprice of P979 million. The report called to account senior officials and staff of the DepEd and the Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management, and recommended charges against those involved in the mess.
This is a golden opportunity to initiate real, top-to-bottom spring cleaning in the DepEd because its current head also happens to be the sitting Vice President, who was given P150 million in confidential funds as education secretary, and another P500 million in confidential funds as VP. Such windfall should be used to get rid of the vermin infesting the DepEd and enriching themselves in office to the detriment of public school students.
The Philippines is experiencing an all-time high learning poverty rate of 91 percent and a learning deprivation rate of 90 percent. Ten-year-olds (Grade 5 level pupils) who cannot read simple text rose from 70 percent to 90 percent. The DepEd, which is awash with funds—much of which is lost to graft and corruption—is often sidetracked by other concerns that have little to do with educating the young. This has caused an unprecedented crisis in education, with students who can barely read or write, and who are miseducated or maleducated.
In May 2018, I filed a complaint with the Commission on Audit (COA) against a Grade 3 textbook used in public schools that contained 1,308 errors, and questioned the DepEd’s decision to print and deliver what for me were very defective products. The COA invited me to their main office to shed light on this issue. My article titled “COA should also flag DepEd over errors in textbook” came out in the July 15, 2019 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. In August, the COA declared that learning materials of the DepEd worth P254 million for Grade 3 pupils were indeed riddled with errors. The errors were certainly the result of corrupt practices at the DepEd, yet no one was made to answer for them.
So much anomaly remains to be uncovered at the agency. For instance, billions upon billions were spent for the development, printing, and delivery of self-learning modules (SLM) during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the third quarter of school year 2021-2022, it amounted to P4.4 billion. For the fourth quarter, P4.2 billion was disbursed. Of these humongous sums, how much was actually spent to produce the modules and did they reach the end users? What about the quality of the writing and the contents? Were they even checked for errors? Why aren’t the COA and the Senate looking into this? Why not use the DepEd’s intelligence funds to raise and elevate the level of intelligence of public school students?
Our political leaders should walk the talk. They have no moral ascendancy to ask their underlings to pay taxes when they don’t. They cannot pontificate from atop their high horse and admonish the people to eat cake when all they can afford to buy is kamote! Even your pet pooch will bite you when it is starving.
Reviving the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps is not a solution because it will not stop the barbarians at the gate. Moreover, the real enemy lives in and among us. The enemy is us. We are bad students who never learn from our mistakes, and who keep forgetting the lessons of the past. We are a nation of slaves who love, love, love! the chains that bind us. Butterflies are free, but alas, we are not butterflies and we don’t want to be free.
Antonio Calipjo Go, [email protected]
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