Teachers’ group takes exception to Briones dubbing COA report ‘dramatized’

Published August 15, 2019, 9:32 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Merlina Hernando-Malipot

A teachers’ group on Thursday urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to “look more closely” on the real situation of learners and teachers in public schools to know that their plight is far from being “dramatized.”

Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) (FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)
Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) (FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

Education Secretary Leonor Briones, during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, dubbed some media reports on the 2018 Commission on Audit (COA) report as “dramatized” – particularly those that pertain to over three million “rotting” or unused books stuck in the warehouses as buffer stock.

For the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) Briones’ statement on “dramatized” media reports is an attempt to downplay the real situation in public schools. “Muli niyang minaliit ang usapin na diumano ay pinalala lamang ng mga ulat sa pahayagan at mga komentaryo,” said TDC Secretary General Emmalyn Policarpio. “Subalit hindi iyan ang usaping nais nating bigyan ng pansin,” she added.

Policarpio – who is also a teacher at Gen. T. De Leon Elementary School in Valenzuela City – said that instead of downplaying some of the issues that affect learners and teachers in public schools, the DepEd should focus its attention on the challenges in the education sector. “Ang mas dapat tingnan sa isyu ng mga aklat sa pampublikong paaralan ay ang kawalan ng mga ito sa maraming asignatura sa ilang antas,” she explained. “Ang marapat sanang sipatin ng kalihim [Briones] ay ang sitwasyon sa mga paaralan sa bansa, lalo na yaong nasa malalayo sa mata ng media at hindi agad makapag-uulat,” she added.

TDC noted that DepEd should give more focus on the situation of public schools particularly when it comes to instructional materials or the learning materials and teachers’ guides. The group said that the DepEd should check first “if the supply for learning materials is enough” even before it allots a portion as buffer stocks.

“Bagamat nauunawaan natin ang proseso ng procurement gayun na rin ang pahayag ng kalihim na walang nakitang katiwalian maging ang COA sa mga aklat na nasa bodega, maliwanag naman na mayroong kapabayaan kung ganito ang sitwasyon,” Policarpio said. “Bakit gumagastos ng milyun-milyon sa buffer kung marami pang kulang na aklat ang hindi pa naipapamahagi sa mga paaralan?” she added.

In a brief survey conducted by TDC among teachers, it was revealed there are “many” subjects – in the elementary, junior high school and senior high school levels – where there are no “official” textbooks. “[Kung] walang opisyal na ginagamit na batayang aklat ang guro, paano niya maisasagawa ang magturo batay sa istandard ng Kagawaran kung wala siyang pinagbabatayan?”

TDC noted that based on the same survey, teacher-respondents also complained that the learning materials or textbooks – if any – is not aligned with the curriculum guide which was crafted by DepEd. “Ito ang katotohanan, hindi ito drama,” Policarpio said.

Majority of teachers who responded to the survey noted of lack of books for Araling Panlipunan (AP) or Social Studies for Grade 10; Mathematics for Grade 7; English for Grade 8; Physical Education (PE) and Mathematics for Grades 11 and 12; Technology and Livelihood (TLE) for Grade 9; Science for Grade 4; English for Grade 2; AP, English, Science, Filipino, Health and PE for Grade 6 (as reported by teachers from Bacoor, Cavite and Eastern Samar) – among others. “Ang mga ulat ay mula sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng bansa, kabilang na ang NCR [National Capital Region] at iba pang mga pangunahing pook-urban sa bansa,” Policarpio noted.

The group urged DepEd to address this concern which has been plaguing the education sector for longest time. “Ito ang katotohanan, hindi ito drama at ito ang nais nating bigyan sana ng aksiyon ng ating Kagawaran,” Policarpio said. “Hindi naman ngayon lamang natin ito inilahad sa pamunuan ng DepEd – nabanggit na rin ito nang makailang ulit sa mga nagdaang dayalogo at pagpupulong, bago pa ang ulat na inilabas ng COA,” she added.

Policarpio also appealed to DepEd to take a look at the plight of the public school teachers who are often forced to use their own resources to fulfill the requirements of teaching. “Ang katotohanan at hindi drama, mga guro ang siyang nagpupuno ng pagkukulang ng sistema, siya ang gumagastos sa kanyang mga kagamitan sa pagtuturo na hindi nailalaan sa kanya ng gobyerno,” she said. “Sapagkat ang katotohanan at hindi drama, malaking mayorya pa rin ng mga gurong Pilipino ay nagmamahal sa kanilang piniling propesyon sa kabila ng mga hamon, mga kakapusan at mga dinaranas na hirap mula sa mabigat na trabaho, napakababang sahod at kulang na mga benepisyo – idagdag pa ang malasakit at kalingang hinahanap sana ng mga guro mula sa kanyang Kagawaran: ito ang katotohanan, hindi ito drama,” she lamented.
Meanwhile, TDC finds the textbook fiasco “very unfortunate” – especially that DepEd is headed by Briones who is known as a “veteran civil society leader and a respected fiscal policy expert.”

TDC National Chairperson Benjo Basas said amid all the allegation of anomalies against DepEd, TDC believes that the Briones is “sincere in her efforts” to ensure that every fund allotted to the department will be spent properly. Thus, the group gives the DepEd concerned offices the benefit of the doubt. “We hope that at the end of this procedure, those who will be proven to be behind these irregularities or negligence will face the full force of the law,” he ended.

The CoA, in its audit observation, flagged the DepEd over the P113-million worth of books and learning materials that were left unused in its warehouses as well as on the P254.4-million worth of “error-filled” textbooks that are being used in public schools – among others “irregularities” in its expenditure.

 
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