"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Friday, October 25, 2013

Learning Materials in the Philippines: "The Dog Ate My Homework"

Last month, this blog featured an article by Joy Rizal lamenting the fact that even after four months into the school year, pupils in the Malaybalay school district still have not received learning materials. The following is a letter written by Joy Rizal to Socorro A. Pilor, Executive Director of Instructional Materials Council Secretariat, DepEd Philippines. It is in response to the explanations provided by the executive director with regard to students in Malaybalay not having any of the learning materials. Apparently, when DepEd issues a press release that says, "As of last school year, the book-student ratio is 1:1 in both public elementary and secondary schools,” it means something else.


Here is the letter:




Thank you for your response. However there are several areas that seem to still have some issues and some apparent points of confusion. For instance several statements of your response seemed to indicate that you believe that the second grade students of the Malaybalay City DepEd district have received textbooks and/or learning material for their subjects.

So that we can hopefully clear up many of the issues let us start with a list of the second grade subjects as well as the materials that our region’s second grade students have received for hands on use.

  • mtb-mle – at this time NO TEXT BOOKS OR MATERIAL RECEIVED FOR STUDENT USE.
  • math – at this time NO TEXT BOOKS OR MATERIAL RECEIVED FOR STUDENT USE.
  • mapeh – at this time NO TEXT BOOKS OR MATERIAL RECEIVED FOR STUDENT USE.
  • Filipino – text book received in august.
  • English – at this time NO TEXT BOOKS OR MATERIAL RECEIVED FOR STUDENT USE.
  • edukasyon-sa-pagpapakatao – at this time NO TEXT BOOKS OR MATERIAL RECEIVED FOR STUDENT USE.
  • araling-panlipunan – at this time NO TEXT BOOKS OR MATERIAL RECEIVED FOR STUDENT USE.
Needless to say if any one believes that our children have text/learning material or even limited hard copies/photocopies of material for the majority of the second grade classes that person would be sorely mistaken.

You also indicated that I did not understand the statements I quoted of Assistant Secretary Jesus Mateo regarding that there is a 1:1 textbook to student ratio. You indicated that his statements were actually referring to the buffer stock and replacement of materials to be used over the materials estimated 3 year life span.

The one of the many press release statements of Mr. Mateo reads:

“As of last school year, the book-student ratio is 1:1 in both public elementary and secondary schools,” he [Mateo] said, adding that there is no more backlog in school seats.

Mateo likewise assured the public that DepEd would complete the delivery of teaching materials nationwide for Grades 2 and 8 under the newly signed K to 12 program before the end of June.

I also quoted a statements found in the DepED document titled OPLAN BALIK ESKWELA (School Year 2013-2014) which you signed as being accurate.

Those statements read:

Learner’s Modules (LMs) for Grades 2 & 8 have been bidded. Deliveries of these materials shall commence in June 2013.

The Learner’s Materials underwent content and language review to minimize errors. However, any comments or findings on the content can be forwarded in writing to the Bureau of Elementary Education (for Grades 1 and 2 LMs) or the Bureau of Secondary Education (for the Grades 7 and 8 LMs). Comments will be validated and considered in the next printing of the LMs.

= = = =

I may not have the strongest grasp of the English language, but neither of those statements seem to be referring to buffer stock of second grade material. Rather they both seem to be discussing the second grade material that was to be delivered to our children by July.

In your last email you also referenced:

DepEd Memorandum No. 92, s. 2013 – Learning Resources for the Implementation of Grade 2 Enhanced Curriculum under the K to 12 Program. This memorandum provides the list of competencies and where these could be found in the textbooks issued to Grade 2 pupils.

In the memorandum it states in sections 1 & 2:

1. To support the implementation of Grade 2 Enhanced Curriculum in the K to 12 Basic Education Program, The Department of Education (DepEd) through the Bureau of Elementary Education (BEE) has developed the following learning recourses in all learning areas:

a. Curriculum Guide(CG)

b. Teacher’s Guide (TG); and

c. Learner’s Materials (LMs).

2. Printed copies will be provided on a one is to one ratio. However, in cases where said materials will not reach the schools in due time, the following measures are suggested until the hard copy is available . . .

(while you did not make reference to the actual document location we found it at:http://depedro4-a.wikispaces.com/file/view/DepEd+Memo+No.+92%2C+s.2013.pdf )

It seems that the expectation was that the materials for our children’s use were to be delivered early in the school year. There lies the problem, THE BOOKS/LEARNERS MATERIALS/HARD COPIES HAVE NOT BEEN ISSUED, no material has been copied or printed for the students to use or for the parents use to assist their children with the studies.

You also stated that:

“Digital copies of kinder, grades 1, 2, 7, & 8 are being uploaded into the Learning Resources Management and Development System (LRMDS), a web-based portal that would make accessible quality-assured learning resources (e.g., learning materials, teaching and professional development resources, supplementary reading and reference materials).

Grades 1, 2, 7, & 8 LMs are uploaded at the DepEd google drive.”

While you failed to mention the web site location, we found it at:

http://lrmds.deped.gov.ph/

This idea of resource availability sounds nice at first glance. However it is useless for the many families that do not have any type of computer or internet access. Nor is it useful for families like mine that only go to locations where we have access to the internet every couple of weeks or so.

However what makes this alleged availability of the materials TOTALLY USLESS to most everyone is that, it appears ONLY DEPED EMPLOYEES can be granted access to any of the actual the Learning Material you mentioned. Thus, what good or use is it to parents or students when they have NO ACCESS to the material?

As for the delay of delivery of materials to our children you indicated that:

The deliveries of the Grades 2 and 8 learner’s materials have been delayed due to the following reasons:

Reason One:

“Some of the manuscripts have copyrighted selections, illustrations, and/or musical pieces for which permission to use them have to be requested.”

Our questions are:

As indicated above, there are several books/subject materials which our children have not received for use in their studies. Thus we have a few questions about this excuse.

I would hope that the materials of so many different second grade courses are not being delayed due to copyright violations. Which course material has been delayed due to the copyright infractions?

When was the request for permission sent to the copyright owners?

Since obviously permission does not have to be granted by the copyright holders, how long does DepEd plan to wait for a response/permission before alternative public domain material is used to replace the copyrighted material so that the books can the printed and distributed?

What departments/groups were responsible for apparently going far beyond the rather liberal fair use copyright laws of our nation?

Why was this issue not addressed LONG before the material was to be distributed?

Why was it stated, that the material had been reviewed and ready for distribution by so many people of DepEd, including yourself, when apparently the majority of material was and still is far from being ready for distribution to our schools and children?

Your second reason was:

"Some Grade 2 materials which were contextualized into 12 mother tongue-based languages by the regions were not complete and there were pixelated or stretched, and unproportionate JPEG images which only the illustrator/layout artist could correct. These had to be returned to the regional writing teams."

Our questions are:

Is this the new way of saying “The dog ate my homework”? Blame the problem on the machines?

The groups have had several years to prepare these documents, who was responsible for insuring that the groups were on schedule and able to complete the work on time as well as reviewing printed copies of the material?

As for the imaging and formatting issue, we are now nearly six months into the school year. How long does it take for your writing teams to replace and/or reformat image(s) in the publishing software? I assume that you are using relatively modern computer software to produce these materials (word processing, publishing and graphic arts software produced at least within the last 15 years) and not early 1900 style printing plates.

If these materials were not completed and ready for printing when the school year was about to begin, why was it stated in multiple documents and press releases that all the material was ready to be delivered including the material for second grade?

You also indicated only SOME of the material was affected by this issue. As a result this excuse would also only apply the local native language material of some regions. What regions did this issue affect?

And when should the students of the regions affected expect to receive corrected materials?

Your third reason I honestly have trouble believing anyone would use after this much time has pass in the school year.

Reason 3:

“For the titles that were ready for printing, there were printers who asked for an extension of their contract completion period because they were affected by the typhoons that flooded their area and work was suspended for a number of days.”

Our statements and questions:

The first typhoon of this year to hit Philippines this school year did not happen until August (the THIRD month of the school year). Well after the time the material was to have been printed and delivered to the schools.

Also unless you are trying to say that ALL the materials for DepEd are printed within the limited area affected by that typhoon. It seems unlikely that there would be a major affect to the publication of the material nationwide. However just to consider the possibility, let us assume that a typhoon did manage to shut down every print shop in the Philippines. As you stated the printers were shut down for a few days. Even if it took two or three weeks for the printers to catch up, we are now about to enter the SIXTH MONTH of the school year. That seems like more than enough time to have printed the documents and have them delivered. More than enough time that is, if anyone was actually trying to make good on the educational promises of the Philippines to our children.

Thus we have to ask:

What material and for what regions were the printers affected by the typhoon printing?

How long of an extension was requested?

What new date was set for the delivery of the materials being printed?

And since you seem to be implying that much of the material was not delivered to the printers for publication until after the school year started:

What caused the delay of delivery to the printers?

And why was it stated by so many people in the months before the school year was to start that the material was ready for printing and apparently at the print shops being printed (since the materials were promised to be delivered in the first two months of the school year)?

You also stated that funds are not being misdirected and indicated that the materials currently being used by the students are to be used for the next three years:

“We would like to assure you that the funds allotted for the provision of Grades 2 and 8 materials will not be put to waste because these LMs will be used for at least three years, the estimated life-span of the materials when properly handled.”

IF the materials were in the hands of our students and children, I would agree with you AND I would not be continuing to write asking the same questions:

Why do our children STILL do not have learning materials, text books or any other material promised by DepEd?

Who is responsible for these issues?

What is being done to correct the issues?

What is happening to the funds of materials have not been printed or distributed for previous quarters? Etc., etc., etc.

Nor would I be continuing to remind you that this all started because of the statements made by Malaybalay City DepEd, not simply isolated instances by one or two “scapegoats”, (even though Malaybalay officials obviously deny making the statements). Those statements being in essence – Since the Learner’s Materials are workbooks. Workbooks are not provided by DepEd for student use. Thus, unless parents voluntarily purchased the Learning Materials, to assist their children, the students will have no hands on material to study or work from.

Many parents, either could not afford, the cost being charged, or assumed that the press releases and statements made by national DepEd officials were true. Having faith that our senior government officials were sincere about wanting to improve our children’s education and our children’s future. Putting faith in the promises made by so many, believing that promised materials would be delivered in the first two or three months of the school year, thus many if not most refused to the extortion attempt by the local DepEd office. Thus many, even those that could afford the prices, did not purchase the first quarter Student Learner’s Materials offered by DepEd (the reason the local DepEd can say no material was sold).

As far as I know later quarter materials have not been offered for “voluntary purchase”. However there has also been, I would call it, an aggressive refusal of the local schools and DepEd to provide even a few photocopies of material for second grade students to use. The only photo copied material most of our second grade children have seen are the mid and quarterly exams.

Unfortunately, at this time, based on your responses, such as DepEd is still waiting for copyright permissions (apparently willing to wait indefinitely, with no alternative plans for printing, publishing or distributing the material) as well as lack of responses to previous, consistently asked questions, it is starting to appear that DepEd has no intentions of printing or delivering any of the materials promised for the second grade students this school year. Thus again, we are going to ask what is going to happen or what has happened to the funds that were suppose to be used for printing and distribution of this year’s materials for our children?

DepEd seems to be continually getting more funding not only from the Our Government but also other countries to improve our education system (this year alone it has receive well over 300 BILLION pesos). Yet the funds do not seem to be available to provide even the most basic of materials for our children (and this was before the recent natural events that I am sure you will try to blame the lack of funding on). So yes we are going to continue to ask what exactly has happened to the funds that are obviously not going where they were intended. The funds that were suppose to help provide basic learning materials for our children to use (not simply one copy for the instructor), the funds that were suppose to be used to improve our education system, not take us back decades to a time when no books, no material, or very little of anything was available for our children to use.

To be honest we are becoming VERY concerned about the integrity, honesty, accountability, even the ability/willingness of The Department of Education to deliver on the most basic of its promises to the children of Our Country.

Especially when even the simplest of questions that any competent supervisor should be able to answer are avoided.

Thus AGAIN in addition to all the other questions, we are going to once again ask:

WHO is responsible for the delays?

WHAT is being done to fix the problems?

WHEN can our children expect to receive the materials promised?

So far the answers seem to be:

Who is responsible: A mysterious someone. We do not know who is responsible for not doing their jobs appropriately and we are not going to look for them either.

Fixing the problems . . . We are not going to do much of anything to fix the problems; lame excuses should be enough to pacify everyone. No one should really expect us to deliver what we have promised. Nor should anyone expect us to actually use the funds to provide materials to be used by the children that we have promised to provide a good quality education.

As for when will the children receive the materials we promised that every child in public school through out the nation would receive, we cannot say. We are still waiting on that mysterious someone to do something, waiting for the computers to format documents correctly, for typhoons to stop shutting down all the printers throughout the nation, AND we are still waiting for the people who’s work we tried to plagiarize to give us permission to steal their material.

As for any other questions that have been asked by the public, we simply do not want to talk about it. And besides everyone should trust us when we say that everything is being taken care of as it should be. (Even when it is obviously not.)

Executive Director of Instructional Materials Council Secretariat, Socorro A. Pilor, the people of the Philippines and the students of the Philippines deserve much better from the people that are suppose to be responsible for educating our children.

Joy Rizal

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