WITH Philippine education in “crisis,” Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said the Department of Education would unburden teachers of extra administrative work and reject politicians’ meddling in its appointment of personnel to help improve the situation.
Densing stressed the need for quick action because the dismal assessment results of Filipino students’ performance were coming in even before the pandemic hit and set back learners even more.
“I’m very straightforward by saying there is crisis in the education sector. We cannot address a problem if we cannot even accept that there’s a problem,” Densing said at the DepEd’s three-day National Planning Conference held in Subic.
“The education crisis has been there even prior to the pandemic. We all know that in 2019, the learning poverty that was made through a study by the World Bank at 91 percent was a consolidation of all international learning assessments or large scale assessments we have done in our country,” he added.
Even assessments not made public paint a dismal picture of Filipino students’ capabilities.
One study not made public but which he received showed that 58 to 91 percent of those assessed for writing composition never reached any proficiency level.
“In 20 minutes, the students were asked to write one paragraph, and they were having a hard time writing a composition in 20 minutes. Nung binabasa ko yung writing compositions, dumugo puso ko, parang naiyak ako. Ibig mo sabihin ganito talaga ating mga estudyante ngayon?” he said.
With this clear problem, the DepEd would listen to educators’ and stakeholders’ concerns to improve the condition of learners and the state of education in the country, he said.
No to politics
Densing said one of the problems the DepEd has encountered was the meddling of politicians, including senators, in the movement of personnel within the department.
“I myself experienced receiving several letters, receiving calls from politicians, mayors, congressmen, and even senators, who want their people to be appointed in certain positions, moved from one school division to another,” he said.
But the DepEd won’t allow this anymore, he said.
“We want to depoliticize the whole process here at the Department of Education,” he said.
Another thing the DepEd would act on is the plea of teachers to be unburdened of various administrative duties that hamper their task of teaching children.
The department is now fast-tracking its hiring of non-administrative personnel to help teachers. It has also suspended the school-based management program after being told that the documentation involved in this has been heavy and tedious for teachers, he said.
The DepEd also acted on a teacher’s tip about teachers being made to handle tasks related to the 4Ps or unconditional cash transfer program, he said.
It then wrote to Social Welfare Secretary Erwin Tulfo telling him the department would no longer let public school teachers do 4Ps work, he said.
“We are slowly unburdening teachers of this administrative work. We can’t do it overnight, but slowly we will do it. Because the role of the teachers is to teach so that the role of learners can be made, and the role of the learners is to learn,” he said.
More funding, please
The DepEd would also push for bigger allocations in the national budget for education, as he noted that the Philippines has one of the lowest spending per capita for education in the world, he said.
“Every peso that is spent on the education sector is a peso of investment, not an expense. It always has a long term impact to our country,” he said.
Densing said “all hands must be on deck” for the department to be able to improve the capability of Filipino students.
The DepEd would also continue to listen to its stakeholders so that it could take the right steps to address their concerns and issues.