DepEd cannot wash its hands off the mass promotion practice
By Estanislao Albano, Jr.
The attempt of the Department of Education (DepEd) to turn the tables on some teachers who accused the agency of applying a “mass promotion policy” which calls for the passing of failing students by saying that there is no such policy and the teachers and schools may just be misinterpreting the policy which gives a chance to students to undergo remedial classes to catch up on the subjects they failed is ridiculous, childish and patently unjust to teachers.
Over the TV Patrol news program of Channel 2 on December 19, 2019, DepEd Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla claimed that some teachers do not teach the failing students during summer on the ground they do not get compensated for the engagement. It was obvious that the official was trying to distance the DepEd from the controversial practice and did not realize that whether there is a written policy or just the result of misunderstanding by teachers and schools of the policy, the agency is still ultimately accountable for the counter-productive practice under the principle of command responsibility.
More than that, the DepEd is winking at the practice.
Sevilla admitted that DepEd is aware of the confusion on the implementation of the promotion policy but why did the agency wait until some teachers called them out over the issue before it addressed the same? For one, why did DepEd not act last February when the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), the state think tank, urged the agency to review its mass promotion practice?
About the other policies which Sevilla claims provide that students who are not qualified will not be promoted to the next grade, why has the DepEd not made them plain enough to the teachers and schools so that there would be no room for misunderstanding? How could the DepEd allow confusion over its promotion policy when such is a touchstone of the educational system?
By her statement, Sevilla has in effect admitted that DepEd does not check on the work and output of teachers, that it swallows the promotion reports of schools hook, line and sinker. She is accepting that the DepEd does not validate if the children who are to be given remedial lessons finally coped with the remaining requirements of the grade at the end of summer.
Sevilla is saying that our teachers and principals are so thoughtless they would pass unqualified students even if they know fully well that DepEd disapproves of such practice with violators answerable for their disobedience. She is in effect alleging that the DepEd is not supervising the operations of schools so that the latter could do as they please in the matter of promotion of school children. This is a clear admission that the current batch of DepEd officials are so irresponsible and incompetent they could only helplessly watch as the quality of our basic education deteriorate under their very noses.
Sevilla tried to make it appear that that the promotion policies of the DepEd are being strictly implemented. Amid the ever expanding number of non-readers in high school, this is far from the truth.
Non-readers are incontrovertible signs that the DepEd promotion policy is backfiring but when the phenomenon was first reported by media in 2014 and when regional offices started directly or implicitly admitting in their websites they have non-readers even in high school in 2016, instead of being alarmed by the writing on the wall, the DepEd national office evaded the problem.
Neither did DepEd bother to investigate when the performance in the National Achievement Test for Grade 6 plunged from “average mastery” to “low mastery” in 2016 and slid further in the succeeding years. The DepEd ignored the unmistakable proof of half-baked elementary school graduates. It was only on November 22, 2019 the DepEd belatedly lifted a finger with DepEd Memorandum No. 173, series of 2019, purportedly to make all school children proficient readers “in their grade level” because of the finding among others that elementary and high school students “are still deficient in literacy skills both in languages and content areas, more so in reading.” It is glaring that the memorandum is silent on what to do with children who could not read at their own level or who could not read at all.
Further proof that DepEd is at home with mass promotion and has no immediate plans of scrapping it is three weeks after the release of the results of the PISA, they still have to issue a memorandum outlawing the practice. DepEd knows that its Sulong Edukalidad initiative to attain quality education will not move forward one inch if the practice of promoting the underserving is continued but it is clear from the statements of Sevilla that all that concerns the DepEd officials is its officials will not be blamed for the mass promotion practice.
Finally, almost two weeks after the news report, the DepEd has yet to make official the clarification made by Sevilla. This is truly ironic because promotion is a key procedure in any education system and the agency’s website is replete with issuances on concerns that have little bearing or even no bearing at all in the education of Filipino children.
What more proofs are needed to show that for its own reasons, the DepEd is tolerating and thus sanctioning mass promotion of school children regardless if they coped with the required competencies of the grade or not? **