Group calls for end to DepEd’s mass promotion practice

(Editor’s note: As this was being finally edited, a few minutes before dealine, a text message was received from the author that the DepEd issued a memo to the effect that non-readers in Grade 1 cannot be promoted to Grade 2.)

TABUK CITY, Kalinga– The decision of the Department of Education-Cordillera Administrative Region (DepEd-CAR) on the call of local quality education advocates for the dismantling of the practice of promoting unqualified students more popularly known as “mass promotion” is being keenly awaited (Please see the editor’s note above.).
In their position paper presented during consultations called by the DepEd-CAR for the improvement of the delivery of basic education services in the region last December, they urged the DepEd-CAR to issue an order “mandating that henceforth, no student who has not acquired all the competencies prescribed in the K-12 Curriculum for the grade shall be promoted.”
The group composed of residents of this city, Baguio City and Benguet had suggested that to make the regulation work, the candidates for promotion should undergo “a transparent quality control process” to involve private sector representatives.
“The passing of the underserving is not the way to prepare children for life. Education is earned. Unless proven wrong, we firmly believe that of all the 79 countries which participated in the 2018 PISA, only the Philippines has a mass promotion practice in its public basic education system and this clearly showed in its performance,” the group said in their position paper.
“We believe that the DepEd-Cordillera is in the proper position to pass such a measure because it is mere application of the K to 12 Curriculum,” the group said.
The group points to existence of non-readers in the elementary and secondary grades which they say is public knowledge as a clear proof that the passing of undeserving students is common in public schools in the region.
Rev. Frederick Munda who presented the position paper informed that although she denied that the DepEd has a mass promotion policy, DepEd-CAR Regional Director May Eclar said that they will study what’s best to do with the suggested policy along with the other recommendations of the group.
Munda, a trustee and chaplain of the Holy Chapel Educational Center in La Trinidad, Benguet which offers elementary and high school education, submitted a copy of the position paper to the DepEd.
Munda said that in the event the DepEd-CAR will adopt the recommendation, the group will propose that ground rules and effective mechanisms for accountability of violators be incorporated in the policy.
The group says high schools should not be accepting illiterates the fact that under the K to 12 Curriculum, the reading competency is vested on Grades 1 and 2 and furthermore, the presence of these unqualified children in high school unnecessarily burdens the institutions because it diverts attention and resources intended for majority of the studentry.
The group urged the DepEd to strictly implement the Grade 2 reading cutoff of the K to 12 Curriculum.
“Quality of education can only be achieved when the DepEd fully and properly implements the curriculum,” the group declared.
The group foresees that the strict implementation of the curriculum will uncover many students in the wrong grade levels but they believe that the situation will not be insurmountable.
“What to do with them is a challenge that will test the resolve of the DepEd and its public and private partners and the Cordillera community as a whole to raise the quality of education in the region. We do believe that if the DepEd and its partners will put their heads together and work together, the possible abnormal situation that will ensue when the standards are strictly observed will eventually normalize,” the group said in their position paper.
The group also recommended that while waiting for the outcome of the review the curriculum being undertaken by the national DepEd, the regional office “should study and fix the obvious weaknesses and loopholes of the curriculum in as far as the teaching of the basic skills of reading and writing is concerned.”
They suggested that if the review is made, DepEd teachers and volunteer education experts be tapped.
The group had also urged the DepEd to minimize the time allotment or even declare a moratorium on activities which have no direct bearing on the learning of a child reasoning that academics cannot be sacrificed for non-academics.
They said that with the poor quality of the country’s education as clearly exposed by the PISA and the National Achievement Test (NAT), the “DepEd cut down their time allotment or declare a moratorium until such time our academics have been stabilized.”
The group also recommended that the DepEd involve the private sector in the conduct of the NAT and the Philippine Informal Reading Inventory (Phil-IRI), the reading assessment tool of the DepEd, to ensure reliability of results.
They noted that despite the annual holding of the Phil-IRI, there are still non-readers in the middle and secondary grades thus the need to innovate the manner by which assessment will be undertaken.
“There, too, have been allegations of fraud in the past which we should silence if we are to move forward and be able to get a reliable assessment of the proficiency of our children and the quality of education prevailing in the region when the tests are conducted,” the group said in their position paper referring to the NAT.
The consultations was attended by chairmen of sanggunian committees on education, presidents of Parents-Teachers Association federations and representatives of some non-government organizations, the private sector and from national line agencies.**By Estanislao C. Albano, Jr.

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