DepEd unfit to produce textbooks
By Estanislao Albano, Jr.
How the DepEd could become an active agent of disinformation through its books which are replete with errors is mind-boggling considering that that is the very opposite of its mandate. In addition, there was a time when the very idea of disputing the contents of textbooks was unthinkable simply because their quality was unassailable then. Now, your reading ability and even your knowledge and intelligence could be called to question if you do not catch a questionable line or two in every two pages of a K-12 material.
We now have an indication as to the extent of the disrespect for accuracy because after years of acting defensive whenever the issue of errors in its textbooks is raised, the DepEd has finally acknowledged that its K-12 textbooks are riddled with errors by ordering the regional offices to subject these learning materials and textbooks to review for “sufficiency, appropriateness, and accuracy of content and suitability of presentation.” And it appears that the concerned DepEd people went on an orgy of buying from nameless, unqualified, careless and irresponsible authors if you can call them that. All in all, there are 336 titles in the list with nine assigned to the Cordillera Administrative Region.
To add insult to injury, the DepEd is usinng government funds so that teachers could sit together to locate and validate these errors when the errors could have been avoided . The trouble with the DepEd is it does not even have the wit to perceive who its real friends are. For perhaps more than a decade now, sick book crusader Antonio Calipjo Go has made it his business to comb DepEd books for booboos with compelling results but instead of appreciating his efforts, the DepEd treat him as a leper. That list of books for review is a resounding vindication of Go but am sure that had he been asked, he would have been happy to pick up the blunders down to the last comma of many of those books AHEAD of printing saving the budget for the review and preventing the teachers from leaving their classes.
Had the DepEd only had the common sense and intent to call for volunteer reviewers and editors, aside from Go, there could be educators from the most prestigious schools who would have done so in the name of patriotism and love for Filipino children. I use the word “intent” because based on the length of the list of books that got through with unverified and outlandish entries, it is evident that the concern that the materials serve the purpose which is that our children get the proper information never figured in the minds of those in charge of the procurement of the textbooks and learning materials.
To begin with, the DepEd selection of authors is appalling. While it has qualifications for Teacher 1 and even for janitors, in selecting people who write books and learning materials for our children, DepEd thinks the constitutional qualification for voters and candidates — must be able to read and right — would do. In fact, it does not even require that an author could spell properly. In one of his articles in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Go wrote he nearly fell off his chair when he read the following in one DepEd textbook: “Banana Rice Teraces. “
DepEd even allows people who do not know how Igorots look like to write about their salient features and in so doing, has DepEd placed the agency in charge of the proper education of Filipinos in the ranks of outsiders who perpetuate faulty notions about the ethnic group.
Normally, not anybody could write a book. It’s the people with proven capability as writers with a body of work to back their claims with and possess unquestioned authority in the field they intend to write about who should get the job. In short, they should be head and shoulders over the rest of us ordinary mortals. Not so in the DepEd. Any Tom, Dick and Harry could write a textbook for the DepEd.
According to a source, the DepEd is allegedly passing the blame for the textbook fiasco to the publishers. So like a small misguided kid who thinks everybody is as stupid as he is, the DepEd is trying to tell us that when your mother asks you why you bought rotten tomatoes, you blame the vendor for not selling quality tomatoes. There would be no problem with that if the DepEd officials involved were buying the vegetable for home consumption only but for goodness’ sake, the rotten tomatoes are for Filipino children and the money used in buying it comes from us taxpayers.
I have several solutions to put a stop to this itch in the DepEd to buy rotten tomatoes charged to taxpayers. First, we publish a book containing the output of this nation-wide review of K-12 textbooks and learning materials including the names of the authors and their credentials, the names of editors, those who decided to buy the masterpieces all the way to the undersecretary in-charge and to the Education Secretary. This will immortalize enemies of Philippine basic education. A version of the document should be uploaded online so the world would know who these people who have reduced the DepEd into a purveyor of disinformation and ignorance are.
Why include the Education Secretary in the book of ignominy? If Secretaries really care that our school children be provided with helpful learning materials and textbooks, they would place the most responsible people in charge of the procurement or production of these materials and closely supervise them so that there will be no chance at all for sloppiness or shenanigans. This fiasco happened because the Secretary then thought that the production of this most crucial teaching aid was not worthy of his personal attention so let him now suffer the shame for his inexcusable negligence.
Second, the government should come up with a policy which ensures that henceforth, all textbooks and learning materials will be as credible as the books before ineptness and irresponsibility pervaded the DepEd. For one, the document should set stringent qualifications for authors such that no more pretenders would be allowed to write for public school children. To know if they are really writers, they should have published works in reputable national dailies or at least have written for their school publications provided they come from respected colleges. It would also be very helpful if the guideline includes a provision where those calling the shots in the procurement of books will personally spend for the reprinting of textbooks and learning materials found to have errors.
But the easiest way to do the trick is to wrest the function of book procurement from DepEd and place it in the hands of a non-DepEd entity that could get the job done in the desired quality. The long list of rotten textbooks it has bought has shown that the DepEd is unfit for the responsibility. **