Education excluded from pressing national concerns
I diligently followed the Inquirer’s 10-part series titled “Election 2016: Agenda of the Next President.” When I reviewed the list of the 10 most pressing national concerns chosen by the Inquirer for discussion—poverty, economy and jobs, food security, peace and order, corruption, healthcare, foreign policy, traffic, climate change and Internet connectivity—I was greatly disappointed to discover that it forgot to include what for me is the most important issue of them all: education. It is the linchpin that holds all the other 10 elements together, the one pin that keeps the wheels of government in position and turning.
What was the Inquirer thinking? That the issue of Internet connectivity is of greater significance than education? That the next president can do something to manage and control climate change? That the Aquino administration has been successful in this area of its governance?
Was the exclusion of education from the discussion to be construed by us as a vote of confidence for the K-to-12 program? This is a major error of judgment on the part of the Inquirer because it sends to the five presidential contenders, as well as the reading public, the wrong and dangerous message that the education program of this administration is A-OK and need not be discussed at all!
Our deplorable justice system, the reprehensible political dynasties, the rampant smuggling of illegal goods and aliens, the drug menace, the unabated rape and plunder of our natural resources by both locals and foreigners, the recovery of the ill-gotten wealth of all past and present thieving and corrupt public officials—are these not more pressing national concerns than Internet connectivity?
I have three questions to ask the five aspirants:
1. What are you going to do with the millions of copies of error-riddled learner’s materials published by the Department of Education that are presently being used in all public elementary and secondary schools nationwide? Based on just five DepEd invitations to bid published in the Inquirer last year, the printing of these defective textbooks has cost the government more than P2 billion!
2. Is the DepEd really ready to implement its K-to-12 program? As of Dec. 6, 2015, it is still trying to “procure manuscripts for Grades 5 and 6 textbooks worth P59 million.” Last Feb. 11, the DepEd came out with an ad for “the procurement of manuscripts for Grades 11 and 12 textbooks worth P70 million.” Will these textbooks be ready when classes reopen in June? This is the reason our textbooks are so bad—everything is rushed!
3. What will you do to address the perennial and enduring shortage of textbooks, teachers, desks and classrooms in the public schools?
An uneducated or miseducated people are thereby rendered easy to lead and drive, easy to govern and enslave. This is how we are in the Philippines at present. We are poor because we have been uneducated and miseducated, by design and on purpose, by our very own series of inept and corrupt administrations. In this country, only the rich and the educated (preferably at Wharton or Oxford) are free, free to govern and enslave the poor and the uneducated. That is how it stands. Only the educated—and butterflies—are free.
—ANTONIO CALIPJO GO, academic supervisor, Marian School of Quezon City
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