There's a need to rationalize educational changes

STRAWS IN THE WIND - Eladio Dioko - The Philippine Star

In the last four decades every secretary of education was observed to have his or her own pet project. Starting from Secretary Juan Manuel, who headed the department known then as the Ministry of Education Culture and Sports, to Secretary Armin Luistro of the present DepEd, there has been innovations which were the focus of educational efforts nationwide. Thus: Juan Manuel had his own green revolution; Onfre Corpus, secondary education development program; Juan Laya, salary standardization; Lourdes Quisumbing, values education; Isidro Cariño, cultural revival; Arman Fabella, curricular revision; Ricardo Gloria, ecology education; Andrew Gonzales, values education; Edilberto de Jesus, payroll regionalization; Raul Roco, “makabayan”, and Jesse Lapuz, salary upgrading. Now the incumbent secretary is upbeat on his K to 12 program.

It will be noticed that the eleven education chiefs before the current one never thought of reengineering the department the way it is being done now. Their thrusts were all in the category of program enhancement or refocusing, but not on reconfiguring of the system. Why? Most probably they believed that to improve the country’s educational system a redirection of efforts was needed, not expansion of schooling years. High caliber educators that they were, they knew that given the basics in the educative process – sufficient classrooms, facilities, books, equipment, and most of all teachers – Philippine  education can be at par with the best in Asia.

The practice of introducing something new in the system is not an unusual happening because each education chief has his or her own unique perspective of the educative process. Each has his or her individual approach in solving the system’s problems. It is not surprising therefore that they channel their energy to this and that concern during their term, a concern quite different from that of their predecessors.

This tendency tends to enrich the teaching-learning process by bringing attention to an aspect of the process which might have been neglected. However, one drawback is that sustainability is wanting and every thrust, good as it is, becomes passé with the coming of the new secretary. And since in the last 40 years the average secretary served only for 3 years or so the innovations introduced no matter how necessary could not be sustained resulting in waste of efforts and resources. For example, the concentration on values education, actually a very vital thrust, needed a massive reorientation of teachers and officials along with production of enriched teaching –learning materials including teachers’ guide, textbooks, workbooks and others. This was of course an expensive undertaking but was well worth it considering that character building is a major component of education. Yet the succeeding leaderships of the department failed to accentuate this project. Although it was not completely set aside, their concentration on other concerns  dissipated the attention and efforts of the implementors and the initiative died a natural death.

But why has this trend persisted in the system? One reason is the absence of a central governing body tasked to determine educational policies and standards. There used to be a national board of education which did the job. But this no longer exists. So it is to each his own for whoever assumes the post of secretary of education. This, coupled with the tendency of our national leadership to craft its own agenda for education and mandate their implementations paves the way for frequent changes in educational policies and directions.

The K to 12 program is a typical example. Using his own experience as an educator in an exclusive school and inspired by the so-called Bologna accord (which requires a 12-year basic education for foreign professionals seeking employment in Europe), the incumbent secretary came up with this initiative apparently sans the infusion of viewpoints from ranking Filipino educators.

“There oughta be a law”, a comic strip is so titled. And this applies to the changes in our school system. There ought to be a law to rationalize the introduction and adoption of innovations in Philippine education.












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