DepEd finally says something about non-reader issue
By Estanislao Albano Jr.
For more than a year after the media exposed the presence of non-readers in high school and six months after it was put on the spot when state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) recommended it stops the practice of allowing non-readers to graduate from the elementary, the Department of Education (DepEd) kept a studied and complete silence on the issue. DepEd officials made no reference to the word “non-reader” in their public statements and nothing about the issue could be found in their website. Neither did they entertain questions or release information on the subject.
We have no idea if it was coincidental or the DepEd is now softening on its self-deluding stance that the reading crisis does not exist when it finally posted something that is material to the mess in its website last week. Specifically, the DepEd Order No. 021, series of 2019, titled “Policy Guidelines on the K to 12 Basic Education Program” and dated August 22, 2019 answers the question when a child should be able to read under the current DepEd administration. The question became relevant after the PIDS came up with the above-stated recommendation and it got even more pressing with the DepEd’s refusal to give an answer.
DepEd Order No. 021, series of 2019, mentions reading and writing among the content standards of Grade 1 Filipino while “reading of texts for pleasure and information critically in meaningful thought units” and “reading with comprehension” are skills to be attained in English in Grades 2 and 3, respectively. One of the objectives of the Grades 4 to 6 program is “Further enhancement of literacy and numeracy skills as preparation for the academic demands of high school.”
Actually, the content standards contained in the order were taken from the K-12 curriculum guides which have been in use since the introduction of the K-12 Program thus it is incumbent on the DepEd to explain to the country how come the intermediate and secondary grades have sizable numbers of non-readers and frustration level readers. Why was and is there no tangible effort on the part of the DepEd to enforce the standard such that it took the PIDS to point out the wrongness of the practice among public elementary schools of sending non-readers to high school?
Any honest to goodness effort to enforce the K-12 deadline for the learning of reading involves the administration of a reading test. It is here where the legislative branch should come into the picture by passing a law which places the conduct of the Philippine Informal Reading Inventory (Phil-IRI), the DepEd’s standardized reading proficiency measurement tool, in the charge of an independent body. The DepEd has been regularly administering the Phil-IRI since 2004 and yet the population of non-readers and frustration readers in the higher grades and high school is only growing every year. Besides, the conduct of the Phil-IRI is an added burden to the already overloaded teachers.
Another option would be for the DepEd to continue administering the Phil-IRI with the results subject to the validation of an independent group.
But first, the DepEd must decide or be forced to decide to stop taking its own standards as jokes to the disservice of Filipino children.**