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Again, error-ridden textbooks

/ 07:55 PM June 24, 2013

Neal Cruz, in his column titled “If rated, the gov’t will get an ‘F’ in performance” (Opinion, 6/5/13), wrote: “There is now a mad scramble for teachers who think so highly of themselves as to write more textbooks that some of these are riddled with errors. These errors are passed on to the students, which is why we have so many poor-quality graduates. The DepEd is supposed to review and check these books before publication, but it is either these reviewers have little time for their jobs or too ignorant to know any better that most of the errors go undetected. That is another reason for the poor quality of our graduates.”

I am at present reviewing the textbook titled “Voyages in Communication,” written by 14 authors, reviewed by four reviewers, and published by the Department of Education itself, for the use of all Grade 8 students in all Philippine public secondary schools. As of this writing, I am on page 100, but I have already recorded 550 errors! What might be the final tally of errors when I reach 582, the last page? The errors will surely run into the thousands!

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The K to 12 curriculum and the 2002 Basic Education Curriculum which preceded it are just glittery wrappers enclosing a package of the things that teachers ought to teach their students, nice covers for the box that contain the things that students should be learning in school. This is to say that it is not the wrapper that counts but what is inside of it. The content is all that matters! Textbooks, regardless of whether they are in printed or in digital form, are the most basic and most important of all instructional materials. When a textbook contains a preponderance of errors, or when the errors are so numerous that they form a swarm, then it serves no other purpose but to confuse and not to enlighten, to harm and not to benefit, to unteach and to unlearn.

People expect the K to 12 reform to be the cure-all that will solve the perennial problems that hound Philippine education. It is not. It is the height of naiveté to think that changing the curriculum changes and improves everything, as unlikely as it is for a hobo to be transformed into a gentleman merely by a change of garments. It is the man that must first be made clean. The content of the textbooks that our children are using must first be made right and correct. They must have credibility, dignity and honor.

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I welcome the positive changes that the K to 12 initiative promises to bring about but until something is done to improve the quality of the textbooks which will facilitate the successful implementation of that curriculum, I’m afraid we will never get out of the quagmire Philippine education is stuck deep in. All textbooks, including e-books, must be thoroughly screened for errors. Otherwise, we will just be toying with these children, making fools of them when we are mandated by the laws of God and men to make them wise. You cannot teach right when your textbooks are wrong!

—ANTONIO CALIPJO GO,

academic supervisor,

Marian School of Quezon City,

199 Sauyo Road, Novaliches, QC

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