Telling, deafening ‘official’ silence
IT’S BEEN 15 days since the publication of my letter questioning the validity of the Department of Education’s order for P6 billion worth of science equipment (“Science equipment for Grades 1 and 2?” Opinion, 9/20/16). It’s been 42 days since I sent Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Commission on Audit Chair Michael Aguinaldo and the chair of the Senate committee on education, arts and culture, Sen. Bam Aquino, letters with the exact same content. All four letters remain unanswered, as if the addressees were not concerned at all, as if they were under no obligation to respond, as if I am a child who had asked a very stupid question. Other previous letters published in the Inquirer, calling Secretary Briones’ attention, were all likewise ignored.
Our teachers at Marian School of Quezon City are trained to respond responsibly to the questions of their students, no matter how silly they may sound at first. The DepEd is the government’s biggest bureaucracy, employing a veritable army of officers and personnel, yet not one bothered to clarify an issue which stands to consume P6 billion of the people’s money. Are these public “servants” not supposed to render public service?
If there’s nothing wrong with the contracts, all the DepEd has to do is to say so. As it is, its deafening silence is even more telling! If there is indeed something wrong, the DepEd is duty-bound to tell the people what it intends to do.
The DepEd has recently been publicizing programs and policies that have little or nothing to do with its real business of seeing to the education of Filipino schoolchildren. “Sex education to erase stigma of pregnant studes; students should watch plays on Digong; Little League for Filipino children; cerebral palsy awareness week; Sight Saving Month; more policemen in schools”—these hackneyed pronouncements skirt the really grave problems which bedevil and beset the Philippine public educational system year in and year out: the lack of classrooms, desks, teachers and textbooks.
Six years into the implementation of the K-to-12 program, public school pupils and students are still using old, outdated and dilapidated textbooks. Of even greater concern is the continued use of error-riddled learner’s materials which were published by the DepEd itself.
The DepEd should put its vast financial resources (P568 billion for 2017, presently under Congress’ consideration) to good use by ordering a top-to-bottom review and rectification of all public school textbooks in current use. Of what use are P6 billion worth of science equipment when many public schools do not even have the most basic “equipments” which are absolutely necessary and indispensable in the teaching-learning process—water, electricity, electric fans, toilets, teachers who can teach, and textbooks with no errors? First things first.
—ANTONIO CALIPJO GO, academic supervisor, Marian School of Quezon City
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.