Duterte on challenges in PH basic education: ‘We will overcome’ 

Amid the problems that hound the country’s basic education, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte on Monday, Jan. 30, expressed optimism that the Department of Education (DepEd) will be able to overcome these challenges with the help of education stakeholders.

In the first-ever Basic Education Report (BER) of the Department of Education (DepEd) presented on Jan. 30, 2023, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte discussed the current status of the country's basic education and the initiatives of the agency to address these challenges. (Photo by ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Today, DepEd stands before you - heart in hand – humbly seeking your support,” Duterte said as she presented the Basic Education Report (BER) 2023 and the “MATATAG” education agenda of the agency.

“Improving access, equity, quality, resiliency and well-being will not happen overnight, nor can it be done by DepEd alone,” Duterte said, noting that “national commitment and sustained effort” from all sectors of the society is very crucial for the success of education in the country.

While DepEd, under the Marcos administration, has taken “small steps” to address the challenges in the basic education system, Duterte underscored the urgent need to “take more.”

“We know that the road will be bumpy, but our direction is clear,” Duterte said. “We know that the challenges are vast but we, Filipinos, are resilient. We will overcome,” she added.

Current status of PH education

Overall, Duterte stressed that Filipino learners are “not academically proficient.”



This, she said, is because Filipino learners oftentimes “experience emotional abuse and exhaustion” while some of them even suffer from psychological fatigue.

“And being academically insecure, many of them may fail to meet the standards of the demanding and competitive world,” Duterte said.

“These are caused and triggered by conditions present at home, in our communities, and even in our schools as a result of problems ingrained in our system,” she added.

Duterte also identified several challenges that the DepEd is facing when it comes to the delivery of education to Filipino learners.

Challenges include a lack of school facilities and learning resources; gaps in procurement practices; concerns about enrollment and learner or school data; congested curriculum and employability; teaching and teacher-related issues; and poor learning outcomes among learners.



“The current state of basic education behooves us all to take a courageous stand and calls us to work together with the intention and commitment to resolve the challenges in basic education,” Duterte said.

After identifying the most pressing issues in the system, Duterte reaffirmed DepEd’s commitment to improving the quality of basic education in the country.

“Our children are bound for greatness,” Duterte said.

While it is necessary to emphasize that abilities are important to navigate life successfully, Duterte stressed that children must understand that hardships in life cannot be overcome by the best minds alone.

“Hardships in life are overcome by the strongest hearts,” she said.

The BER 2023 and launching of DepEd’s new battle cry for education quality, Duterte said, is an opportunity to renew the commitment to children and their future. “If we work the hardest will our children fly, soar, fight, and win!” she added.



Small steps

Guided by its mandate and the renewed hope under the administration of President Marcos Jr., Duterte said that DepEd took steps toward education reforms in 2022.

Even amid concerns related to the Covid-19 pandemic, Duterte said, “we brought our learners back to school.”

On Aug. 22, 2022, DepEd opened its doors to over 28 million learners across the nation. To date, Duterte said that 99.54 percent of public schools implement the five-day-in-person classes.

Duterte said that DepEd has also implemented the National Learning Recovery Plan to support the efforts of field offices in addressing learning loss.

“Our road to recovery has begun with learning remediation and intervention programs,” Duterte said. “We continue to engage parents and legal guardians in facilitating learning and regularly conduct home visitations and follow-ups,” she added.

Duterte said that DepEd also reskilled and upskilled its personnel by providing various capacity development initiatives to 226,367 teachers and school leaders.

A total of 15,331 teachers and school leaders also received graduate scholarships; 17,636 were trained in early-grade language literacy; 161,700 teachers completed 18 NEAP-subsidized teaching courses and 31,700 have undergone the Teacher Induction Program.

DepEd, she added, also started the review of the K to 12 curriculum.

“As we speak, the revised Kindergarten to Grade 10 curriculum is being finalized,” Duterte said, adding that the review of the Senior High School (SHS) curriculum has also started.

New battlecry

Duterte noted that her interest in the future of Philippine education is a “very personal matter.”

Under the current administration, Duterte said that it will continue to push for quality education through the “MATATAG” agenda.

“We will make the curriculum relevant to produce competent, job-ready, active, and responsible citizens,” Duterte said. DepEd, she added, will also revise the K to 12 curriculum to make it “more responsive to our aspiration as a nation, to develop lifelong learners who are imbued with 21st-century skills, discipline, and patriotism.”



DepEd, she added, will also take steps to accelerate the delivery of basic education facilities and services. “Effective education governance is crucial in accelerating the achievement of education outcomes,” Duterte said.

Moreover, Duterte said that DepEd will take good care of learners by “promoting learner well-being, inclusive education, and a positive learning environment.”

Likewise, DepEd will also give more support to teachers so they can teach better. “Teachers are critical to the success of education. When they are supported, education quality improves,” she added.



Given this, Duterte vowed that DepEd - along with its partners - will continue to rally for an improved learning system in the country. “Together, we will rally for every Filipino child,” she said.