DepEd stone walling on textbook review?

Igorot World War II veterans were honored during the 77th Araw ng Kagitingan commemoration program at the Veterans Park in Baguio City April 9, 2019. **RMC PIA-CAR

In a possible violation of the Freedom of Information order of   President Rodrigo Duterte, the Department of Education (DepEd) has refused to release copies of the outputs of the regional offices in the ongoing review of  K-12 textbooks and learning materials to the Manila Times.
In a letter dated March 13, 2019,  Bureau of Learning Resources (BLR) officer-in-charge Edel Carag said they cannot grant the request of this correspondent for  copies of the regional outputs   because “the said documents are presently being processed for validation activity that we will conduct this month.”
Also, in an email dated  March 29,   DepEd-Cordillera Administration Region  Director May Eclar recommended to this  correspondent to obtain a copy of the  Cordillera review findings  from the BLR “to provide wider scope of the results.”
She said that in compliance with memorandum numbered DM-CI-2018-00-361 issued  by the office of Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Lorna Dig Dino  on September 28, 2018  regarding the conduct of the review, the regional results were already submitted to the DepEd national office through the BLR.
“The data will be used in the Validation Workshop, Preparation of Teaching Notes and for analysis and evaluation on the entirety of the Quality Assurance process of the department,” Eclar wrote.
She informed that  CAR only reviewed the Grade 4 textbooks and learning materials and “the information derived from the raw data shall be  collaborated with the results of the reviews from other regions.”
This correspondent, however,  notes that  memorandum DM-CI-2018-00-361 states that the Grade 4 textbooks and learning materials were exclusively assigned to the CAR.
Under the memorandum, 334 textbooks and learning materials for  Grades 1-10 issued by the DepEd since 2012 were distributed  to  the 17 regions for review.
An email of this correspondent  to  Undersecretary for Finance-Budget and Performance Monitoring  Annalyn Sevilla, DepEd spokesperson,  dated  January 30, 2019  seeking details on the review undertaking  remains unanswered as of press time.
In the said letter, this correspondent had asked, among others, for the  “number and gist of the  directive for the conduct of the review,” the current status of the review and deadline for completion, whether or not the output will be publicized and if the corrections will entail recall of  the copies of the defective textbooks and the printing of the corrected versions.
A thorough research of the  DepEd website yielded no document referring to the activity.
Antonio Go, long time critic of DepEd’s defective textbooks and learning materials, had earlier scored the DepEd for  not adequately informing the public about the activity.
He had said that the subject of the activity being a long-standing problem,  the DepEd should have  released enough information  for the  people to  know there is something being done about the matter and to be transparent about the expense of more millions for the correction of errors that are preventable.
It would have taken just a phone call to the major media organizations, Go had said.
Sometime last August, Education Secretary Leonor Briones had  announced the conduct of the review   amidst the public outcry  created by the expose of Go of the misspelling of  “Banaue Rice Terraces” into “Banana Rice Tereces” in the Grade 7 MAPEH textbook.
She was quoted in the media as explaining that they were conducting the review because the agency can  no longer wait for the press and the public to point out more errors in the learning materials.
The term “information” as defined by the FOI executive order and likewise in the DepEd People’s Freedom of Information Manual and Implementing Details embraces things like reports, minutes of meetings, data and other similar documents and records. **By Estanislao Albano, Jr.

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