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Showing posts from May, 2016

Everyone Is Ready for DepEd's K to 12

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"Being Ready" nowadays seems to have lost quite an important word, and that word is "fully". Nominee for Education Secretary Leonor Briones is reported to be "ready to head DepEd". Current officials of DepEd are proclaiming "all systems go" for the new senior high school. To see whether we are indeed "ready" SunStar in the Visayas region is asking "Central Visayas, ready for Grade 11?". There are in fact statements and figures that we should digest properly in that SunStar article to understand better what "ready" really means. Here are those statements and figures:
In Cebu Province, where the Department of Education (DepEd) allocated 1,038 classrooms, only 371 have been completed.In Cebu City, the initial target was to build 318 classrooms for senior high schools. But according to the latest assessment, only 52 may be done by the time classes open.Meanwhile, officer-in-charge Dr. Joelyza Arcilla of the DepEd Cebu Ci…

Duterte Chooses Social Watch Philippines' Lead Convenor for DepEd

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Philippines' incoming president Rodrigo Duterte has a new nominee for the Secretary of Education, University of the Philippines professor emeritus Leonor Magtolis Briones. Briones is currently lead convenor of Social Watch Philippines, "an international network of citizens’ organizations struggling to eradicate poverty and the causes of poverty, to ensure an equitable distribution of wealth and the realization of human rights." Briones is a member of the W8, a group of eighth women committed "to remind world leaders of the promises they made and of the responsibility they have to fulfill, and to bring the voices of the poor in the south, particularly of women, to those who make global decisions, and to put faces to global statistics". Before joining W8, Briones was asked the question, "Can you describe how health / education in your country is experienced by ordinary people on a day-to-day basis?" This was her response:
"We have high levels of p…

If DepEd's K to 12 Pushes Through, at Least, Do It Right

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What is worse than a broken ten-year basic education program? A broken thirteen-year pre-university education. Adding years without actually fixing an education system simply adds to wasted time and resources. In reality, this is what the additional years would do if the problems Philippines basic education faces are not addressed first. It is simply throwing both money and time. Senior high school, implemented without thoughtfulness and due diligence, is nothing but an indiscriminate spending of precious and limited resources. It is therefore not surprising to see a profound frustration among those who have their eyes set on improving the quality of basic education in the Philippines.

For example, on learning resources, Antonio Calipjo Go, a retired academic supervisor of the Marian School of Quezon City, has long been waging a lonely crusade against badly written English-language textbooks in the Philippines. In an opinion article, reposted in this blog, Go says:

The Department of Ed…

No Room for Violence in Promoting Basic Education

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In advocacy, there is nothing worse than doing something clearly against what you are fighting for. Voicing one's opposition against DepEd;s K to 12, because it does not respect the rights of parents, teachers and children, is not helped by violence or destruction of public and private property. There is no room for violence if we claim to stand for quality education of our children. There is no room for hegemony if we claim to stand for equity in education. Doing so only provides reasons for people not to see what we are truly advocating.Doing so only provides an additional excuse for the government not to address the real and urgent problems Philippine basic education faces.

Below is a post on Facebook  by Elvin Uy, an assistant secretary of DepEd.

Elvin Uy at DepEd Central Office.Yesterday at 7:14pm · Pasig, Philippines · 
Last Friday, I met with representatives of Gabriela about their concerns regarding the nationwide implementation of Grade 11 this coming school year. As part…

A Plea to President Duterte: "Padi Mayor, Please Suspend K to 12"

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The next president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has recently announced a "change of heart". He now apparently supports DepEd's K to 12. He originally opposed the new curriculum based on his perception that the government is ill prepared for the new basic education program. In addition, he thought the additional years in high school should be made optional. At the moment, the government is not really equipped to provide K to 12. Nearly half of the schools offering grade 11 in 2016 are private. And senior high school is part of compulsory education in the Philippines. Clearly, nothing has changed to reverse the previous misgivings of the incoming president. But apparently, Duterte has changed his mind because DepEd simply has used the old argument that the Philippines is being left behind in education.

This piece of news, of course, brings profound sadness to those who are opposed to DepEd's K to 12.

The following is a post on Facebook by Cheryl Daytec-YaƱgot:

Mistreating Our Teachers Means Mistreating Our Children

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John R. Lutzker, Director of the Mark Chaffin Center for Healthy Development and Professor of Public Health at Georgia State University in Atlanta gave the following response when asked the question, "What sort of person—a teacher, no less—could treat a child so disdainfully and abusively?":
"People who abuse and neglect children are much more likely to have experienced abuse or neglect growing up, or witnessed it, or had parents with mental illness. People are resilient and survive but anyone who experiences those things is more likely to perpetrate child maltreatment." The above came from an article by Ellen Seidman on her blog, Love That Max. Seidman also mentioned that Lutzker did not want parents to be too alarmed but there were indeed "modern-day realities that make it particularly key for us to be on our toes". What is worth noting in Lutzker's response is the relationship he perceives between what a teacher feels and how he or she treats his o…

Strongest Argument Against DepEd's K to 12: Death of the Teaching Profession

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In a recent article on NEAToday Tim Walker writes, "There’s no doubt that the past decade or so has been hugely challenging for educators and for the public schools where they teach. From the failure of No Child Left Behind to the devastating budget cuts following the Great Recession to the vilification of the teaching profession stirred up by the education reform movement, it’s clear why public education advocates hope the next ten years is more promising." While people can indeed lament about teaching in public schools in the United States, the status of the profession in the Philippines upon the introduction of the new K to 12 curriculum depicts a scene of greater sorrow. On one hand, DepEd's K to 12 may seem to elevate teaching by encouraging people to become teachers, but teachers are not really made by sheer will. Kindergarten teachers should not come simply from volunteers. Senior high school teachers cannot be made from other professionals who merely woke up sud…

Duterte's Choice for Education Secretary in the Philippines

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The social news network in the Philippines, Rappler, has launched a crowdsourced vetting process for newly elected president Rodrigo Duterte's choices for cabinet members. Duterte has recently announced his list of possible secretaries and for education, he has picked Dr. Peter Laurel, president of the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU), Batangas and Laguna campuses, and the fourth son of Senator Sotero Laurel, the third son of former Philippine President Jose P. Laurel.

Rappler poses the following questions for its crowdsourced vetting process:
Does the nominee have the knowledge and experience for the job?Does the nominee have conflict of interest?Is the nominee facing or is linked to graft and corruption cases?What do you know about the nominee's lifestyle? The last three questions obviously address ethical issues and are outside the scope of my blog. Thus, in my comments, I would dwell only on the first question. The first question is very important as sincerity or h…

A Stubborn Grip of Poverty on Education

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Claiming on one hand that an education reform is not a panacea while at the same time, insisting that changes that have been taken are designed to deliver a "quality, equitable, culture-based and complete basic education", should really make us pause and reflect to see if these changes are indeed good. A thorough evaluation obviously requires data. Unfortunately, informative results from the Philippines are not available. What one sees instead is a continuing shortage of resources. Worse, with the introduction of two additional years in high school, the number of educators in college losing their jobs and the number of students actually enrolling in senior high school are both up in the air.
The Educators Forum for Development (EfD) has called for a review of DepEd's K to 12 in the Philippines. These educators also add that the government should focus on "basic education that contributes to the building of a self-reliant economy, based on genuine agrarian reform an…

The Challenge of Unlearning

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Almost 14 million voters in the Philippines have chosen to bring the son of a former dictator a heartbeat away from presidency. With an election involving more than two candidates, a mere third of the votes cast can send a candidate to a national office. Still, 14 million is a significant number. Such is the enormous challenge of basic education in the Philippines.
Unlearning has always been a huge task for basic education. In the sciences, for instance, misconceptions abound. Obviously, to correct these misconceptions, delivering the right information is required. Unfortunately, such effort which already demands good learning resources and a competent teacher is often not enough. Confronting the issue of climate change deniers, Joel Achenbach of the National Geographic writes, "...Science appeals to our rational brain, but our beliefs are motivated largely by emotion, and the biggest motivation is remaining tight with our peers... ...Throwing more facts at them doesn’t help....&…

Why Quality in Basic Education Is Important

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There is no question that the Philippines needs more scientists for various reasons. Reacting to a post analyzing votes cast for vice president in the recent elections in the Philippines, the dean of science at New York University, Michael Purugganan, comments, "...This year, they see "perfect fit trend lines", and again say Leni is cheating. One of the best answers to why the Philippines should have more scientists? So that you can have astrophysicists like Reina Reyes or neuroeconomists like Migs Garcia crunch the numbers and show us why this is all normal math in action and not simply fraud." 
Whether having more scientists would help the public form sound opinions remains to be seen. In the US, for instance, Joseph E. Uscinski inOpenDemocracy writes, "Despite the fact that climate scientists are in near total agreement that climate change is real, man-made, and harmful, about 40 percent of the US population rejects the scientific consensus... ...Democrats…

What a New President Means to Philippine Basic Education

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The Philippines has just elected a new president, Rodrigo Duterte. In a country where basic education is highly centralized, the presidency can indeed have a significant impact on how children are schooled. Duterte had been known as critical of Aquino's K to 12. Duterte won the election obviously from a dissatisfaction in the current administration. Whether the newly elected president would do something beneficial to Philippine basic education, of course, remains to be seen. 
Duterte was seen as "people's last hope". Sadly, his story reminded me of a play our class had as a project in college. It was a play about a young man named Lukayo.
Lukayo grew up in a village that was being terrorized by a monster. The monster had been blamed for dead livestock, destroyed crops, and an overwhelming fear gripping the entire village.   Lukayo, as a child, was very obedient. He took part in household chores. And as he grew up, it became clear to everyone in the village that he w…