The Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM II), mandated to evaluate the education sector, admitted two things in its 2024 report: The Philippines is under an education crisis, and decades of reforms have been insufficient.
Persistent problems in the country’s quality of education manifested in the 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment results. The Philippines ranked 77th among 81 countries, with only 24 percent of students reaching basic reading proficiency. This indicates that the country is lagging by five to six years in learning competencies.
Under the leadership of Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte, solving the crisis is impossible because of her lack of technical expertise and deliberately misplaced priorities. Such failure is bound to exacerbate inequalities, restrict opportunities, and constrain national development.
True to form, the state of basic education has not improved in the past two years under Duterte. She has resorted to making bold yet vacuous pronouncements and forwarding mismatched policies instead of enacting concrete measures aligned with the sector’s needs.
During her second Basic Education Report on January 25, Duterte announced an order relieving teachers of their administrative tasks. This was directed to be implemented immediately. However, sans transition guidelines and resolutions to staffing issues, the policy is unviable. According to Duterte, the Department of Education (DepEd) will open 10,000 administrative staff positions. This is insufficient as 50,000 schools remain understaffed, the source of funding is unclear, and the recruitment process takes time.
This supposed provision of support to teachers is part of Duterte’s MATATAG agenda, which also forwards a revised basic education curriculum. Under the promise of producing job-ready graduates, the MATATAG curriculum suggests a reduction from seven to five competencies: Language, Reading and Literacy, Mathematics, Makabansa, and Good Manners and Right Conduct. This effectively removes Mother Tongue language subjects and MAPEH, while Araling Panlipunan will be replaced by the Makabansa component.
The curriculum revision's aim to instill “peace competencies” reveals Duterte’s focus on mobilizing the education sector for counterinsurgency. On top of the campaign for the revival of the mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps program, the administration has also blatantly red-tagged progressive groups such as the Alliance of Concerned Teachers.
Given Duterte’s misaligned priorities that sideline the education crisis in favor of her sinister agenda, it comes as no surprise that the government’s responsibility to improve the quality of education is being expediently transferred to private, profit-oriented educational institutions.
In December 2023, Duterte launched the Public-Private Complementary Framework to “decongest public schools.” This serves to justify the inadequacy of government funding, leaving DepEd to grapple with a meager allocation of P758 billion. This amount falls significantly short of addressing the need for over 159,000 new classrooms and the procurement of equipment and books.
As the consequent threats of further inaccessibility and dwindling quality loom, it is crucial to boost public investment in the education sector. It is also imperative to implement policy recommendations set forth by EDCOM II and stakeholders, such as equity-oriented funding, community-based learning, and expansion of scholarship opportunities.
Such solutions will only come to fruition under a competent and principled leadership that is well-versed in educational policies and has decisive priorities for the sector consistent with national interests—standards that Duterte fails to meet. Without these urgent changes in leadership and policies, the nation’s future remains in grave peril. ●
Feb 10, 2024
Wala akong hangad na angkinin ang oras mo. Bakit ko naman gagawin iyon, kung sa mga kwento mo tungkol sa iyong pagkilos ay nakikita kitang masaya, nabubuhayan ng loob na magpatuloy at magpakahusay.
Feb 10, 2024
Bago maiahon ni Jimenez sa nais na katanyagan ang UP, esensyal na masigurong nakalapat muna ang kanyang pamumuno sa pagtugon sa kagyat na kahingian ng mga sektor ng pamantasan.