Dissecting DepEd: my honest assessment in terms of several angles (second of four parts)

(continued from February 21, 2021)

Reiterating the need for the general public to assess the performance of the Department of Education (DepEd), I believe that we Filipinos have the right to do so because we are loyal, indefatigable taxpayers and it is part of our mandate to be served by our government agencies. We can never be enlightened and liberated from perpetual red tape, corruption, malfeasance, misfeasance, and abuse of authority if we do not utilize our voices to criticize long-standing yet ineffective practices that have been ingrained into the DNA of every government department and its sub-agencies.
Placing DepEd under the public magnifying glass is meant for us to activate our role as stakeholders and partners in educating our youth. If we remain subservient to edicts issued by DepEd and never question it, the agency would not realize its propensity to succumb to ignominious public fallibility.
To assess DepEd holistically, which I have proposed in the first part of my series (Dissecting DepEd: my honest assessment in terms of several angles [first of four parts], found in the February 21, 2021 issue of Ilocos Sentinel), I intend to focus on two areas for now, which are Educational Service Delivery and Quality and Transaction Convenience and Ease of Accreditation. These two areas I have proposed in last week’s article are very crucial especially for students (because they are the main recipients of education) and for teachers and external educational providers such as schools and teacher training companies (because they are channels of education). For you, my dear readers, to be duly informed, I will explain what the areas are, provide you with scores per criterion, and explain why I have arrived at the scores.

Again, for your reference, here is the scoring system per criterion:
1. Five (5) – Excellent
2. Four (4) – Above Average
3. Three (3) – Average
4. Two (2) – Below Average
5. One (1) – Needs improvement
6. Zero (0) – Failing

This time, here is the scoring system per area:
1. 22 to 25 points – Excellent
2. 18 to 21 points – Above Average
3. 14 to 17 points – Average
4. 10 to 13 points – Below Average
5. 9 to 12 points – Needs improvement
6. 8 and below – Failing

Let us all start the ball rolling and dig deeper into assessing the state of education in the Philippines today!

A. Assessment of Educational Service Delivery and Quality (25 points).
Definition: This area refers to the manner in which teaching- and learning-related services are executed, from the planning stage to actual delivery. It also pertains to technological innovations, solution-oriented processes, and bias-free representations of cultural groups as applied to education. Finally, it focuses on changes made to the current basic education curriculum in response to present needs, challenges, and opportunities on the part of our learners, teachers, and other stakeholders.

  1. Quality control of learning materials, including modules – 1/5 (Needs improvement)
    ASSESSMENT: The pervasive inaccuracy and other errors in many textbooks and learning materials is not a mere fly in the ointment but is more comparable with long-standing rust on aluminum. Just last year, there was a module from one of the DepEd regional offices in the South that body-shamed veteran thespian and philanthropist Angel Locsin, pointing out her full figure. And just recently, a module from one of the regional offices in the North wrongly depicted one of the major Northern ethnic groups. We have not heard any news of punitive measures against the writers and the officials responsible for these travesties, although online public censure was massive. The reason why I rate quality control of materials poorly is that DepEd is inconsiderate of the time and resources that quality control needs in order to make learning materials (modules included) immaculately spotless and fluently written. DepEd should also be transparent by sharing with the public their process in evaluating learning materials and in accepting publishers for accreditation with the department.
  2. Utilization of traditional and social media in presenting lessons – 3/5 (Average)
    ASSESSMENT: DepEd is active online, utilizing social media such as Facebook in order to present its lessons. Under the veteran bureaucrat/technocrat/academic Secretary Leonor Mirasol Magtolis-Briones, DepEd has made itself more visible to netizens and viewers alike. For the first time in Philippine history, DepEd has partnered with television stations such as IBC-13, GMA, and Solar Television, among other television and radio stations, in order to present lessons across all levels (from primary to secondary). However, we cannot forget the occasional grammatical and factual gaffes committed by those responsible for the content. Errors lead to more errors if not arrested early on. Another reason why I have rated the use of social media as average is that there are still many Filipino students who do not have at least a decent internet connection, owing partly to our infrastructure and our geography.
  3. Improvement of curricula across all basic education levels – 2/5 (Below average)
    ASSESSMENT: We concede to DepEd somehow for its efforts to improve the basic education curriculum from preschool to senior high school. However, it fails to determine the actual length of time needed for the average Filipino student to absorb every lesson. Moreover, the curricula prescribed by DepEd lack emphasis and activities on work attitude development, values education, cultural awareness, and focus on real-life contexts as experienced first-hand by Filipino youth. There are some areas, especially in the senior high school curriculum, that need much improvement and further research and testing, such as subjects delving on Mathematics, Science, Research, and Language. As for the time given for every lesson, it is really scant and unrealistic. And as for the number of lessons, the average Filipino student would be overwhelmed.
  4. Delivery of educational services to remote areas – 3/5 (Average)
    ASSESSMENT: It is commendable for the Department of Education to update its service vehicle fleet, as I (and other people) have personally witnessed during the numerous times I have passed by the DepEd Central Office. A plethora of brand-new Mitsubishi Strada double-cab pickup trucks and previous-generation Toyota Hiace Commuter vans have been part of DepEd’s motor pool; however, as I visited the DepEd Central Office one day, I was dismayed to learn that the department has not been forthright in terms of reporting their expenditures, according to one reliable source. Though there are many provinces that DepEd serves, it must be also of service to the remotest of areas and ensure that all children are taken care of and in school, both physically (albeit online) and mentally. It is also disheartening to learn that a number of of DepEd’s service vehicles are not well-maintained; hence, they would be dilapidated in the long run and would not be able to travel the farthest of provinces nationwide.
  5. Inclusivity and integration of minorities and the marginalized – 2/5 (Below average)
    ASSESSMENT: The Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) is one of the hallmark projects of DepEd and is still being implemented (and it will be). The honorable madam secretary, in all fairness to her efforts despite having to wait for only 20 years before she officially becomes a centenarian, is doing her best- along with her undersecretaries and agency heads- to include all Philippine ethnic groups in education. However, the recent bevy of racially prejudicial modules and other materials have confirmed that the educational system is still not welcoming of diversity and that no effort to conduct further research on ethnic groups and immersion in their communities by DepEd officials have been done so far.
    In adding all the scores per category, the total score in terms of Assessment of Educational Service Delivery and Quality is 11/25, which means that DepEd needs improvement in terms of how they screen their materials and deliver teaching and learning to Filipinos nationwide.
    (to be continued)

If you have suggestions in terms of the education-related topics that you want me to feature, please feel free to send me an email to edteo.ramos@yahoo.com or to coachjet.inspirations@gmail.com and I will reply to you as soon as I receive your email.