DepEd: "Developing God-Loving Filipinos"

I thought I would check in on the Department of Education to see how things are going. Education comes up on so many troublesome issues as an important solution. How is DepEd doing with technology in the classroom? What is the curriculum looking like? How are they dealing with the demands of K-12 expansion?

 My first stop with a government agency is always the official web site, because it says so much. Here is how my scan went, roughly:
  • Cool look. There’s a note that says the site is in beta so have patience. No problem. It has a slide show at the top and rolling news headlines. Clean. Good-looking.
  • There are several tabs or major sections at the top: Home, About DepEd, Programs, Issuances, Resources, News, Procurement, Support. That is straightforward.  There are three major topics at the bottom: Transparency, Bureaus and Offices, and Related Agencies (links to DOST, CHED and TESDA).
  • The “Transparency” page is blank, a work in progress.
  • In looking for a plan, I found “10-Point Education Agenda” under the “Programs” tab. Here are the major headings for the 10 points, along with some reactions:
  1. A 12-year basic education cycle. Programs are (a) curriculum development, (b) legislative liaison, (c ) research studies, (d) advocacy and (e) transition management. Interesting that there are the two political aspects of (b) and (d).  And (e) is a big deal, but there is no link to relevant information. What are the issues and successes I wonder?
  1. Universal Pre-schooling for all. Universal kindergarten with a budget allocation of P2.3 billion teaching (a) values, (b) PE, (c ) social and emotional development, (d) cognitive development, (e) creative arts, (f) readiness for reading & writing, and (g) literacy/communication. Cripes. All I remember from Kindergarten was playing on the slide and taking a nap. The Philippines offers a demanding program. I wonder if the kids will learn to love learning or hate it?
  1. Establish the Madaris Education as a sub-system in the current education system. Education for Muslims. Separate blog topic.
  2. Re-introduce technical and vocational education in public high schools. Techvoc curricula for Grades 11 & 12 are being developed as part of the K to 12 Program. Fantastic. Opportunities in arts, trade, agriculture and fishery for those not going to college. There are 282 techvoc high schools nationwide.
  1. Every child a reader by Grade 1. Ongoing implementation. I disagree with this goal. Reading is important, but if the child is simply not ready yet, we are forcing him to be a “failure”. Too much demand for achievement can teach the wrong lessons if the kid is simply not yet ready to read. I understand it is President Aquino’s mandate and I know the intentions are good, but a better goal would be to teach youngsters to love learning. Then they will learn to read as soon as their developing young minds can grasp words. And they will be successes, not failures.
  2. Improve science and mathematics. Certain schools focus on science and math: 198 high schools and 100 elementary. Ongoing training of teachers is a part of this. So what if I have a gifted child in science but he is not near one of these schools. How does he get educated? Or what if there is such a school in my neighborhood; can my kid get in if he wants in? If there is screening, what are the standards?. I need to give this more study.
  1. Expand government assistance to private education. “Improving access to quality secondary education through government extension of financial assistance to deserving elementary school graduates who wish to pursue their secondary education in private schools. It is geared towards reducing class size to manageable levels in public high schools.”   757,000 beneficiaries in 2012. Payment outside Manila is P5,500. Seems like a win-win-win program to me.
  2. Use of mother-language instruction. Instructional materials in major languages (Tagalog, Ilokano, Pangasinense, Bikolano, Kapampangan, Hiligaynon, Bisaya & Waray) have been developed. Separate blog topic. Interesting. No mention of English fluency here or anywhere. If it’s low priority, that’s a big mistake. It must be expensive to do lessons in so many languages.
  1. Better textbooks. “DepEd is continuing efforts to improve the screening and selection process of textbook evaluators.  Orientation seminars conducted for authors, publishers, editors, illustrators, book designers and other stakeholders developing textbooks and teacher’s manuals for public school use. Ongoing participation of more than 40 civil society organizations, local government units, Parent-Teacher Associations, other civic and church organizations, institutions, and foundation in the National Textbook Delivery Program.” What a lot of work. I have only one question. Have you  heard of the internet?
  2. Build more schools in cooperation with LGUs. Local governments participate in building schools, receiving reimbursement from National. A total of 17 LGUs have signed up. Sounds like a good program, a way to get out from the crushing need to provide classrooms.

I’m disappointed technology is not included anywhere in this plan. Is this 2013 or 1950? The demand on classrooms, the effort on textbooks, the limited number of high-skill teachers. There seems to be no strategy to use the internet to reduce these burdens.

Most of my professional career in business was engaged in doing planning work. To do a proper plan, you have to be brutally honest. You can’t play politics or paste over deficiencies. You need to put them on the table and work on them.

That’s what I’m missing from the DepEd web site. Call it honesty; the candor, the transparency, if you will, of acknowledging these burdens. The web site is too much a self-promotional puff piece.

Where is the metric, for instance, of “average number of children per classroom”? Where is the rating of “overall teacher quality”? Without clear, frank goals, how do you develop programs that address deficiencies?

What about the demands of moving to K-12? How is it going? What are the problems and how are they being handled?

The web site highlights transparency. What does this mean to DepEd? That you hide the negatives and puff up the positives?

Then I got stopped dead in my tracks. I went to the “Vision & Mission” sub-heading under “About DepEd”.
Here’s what I read. I’m afraid it turned me completely negative.
  • The DepEd Vision. By 2030, DepEd is globally recognized for good governance and for developing functionally-literate and God-loving Filipinos.
“God-loving”? Are you kidding me? Of all the priorities we envision for nurturing young minds, this is what we want? What about science and technology? What about probem-solving and innovation? What about healthy esteem and confidence and teaching the mind to soar?

I have an idea! Here’s a quick solution to the classroom problem. Throw out the kids of parents who are not sufficiently God loving. Haven’t been to church for at least three Sundays this month? Expel the heathen brat.That’s the way you do it. Certainly don’t bother with those riff-raff atheists and their wild-ass idea that rational thought is a virtue.

This DepEd is the governmental unit that teaches Filipino values, eh?

How about teaching the value of “freedom of religion” in its big, wholesome, inclusive sense. How about teaching big ideas instead of small ideas. How about grasping that opening kids up to the big world, in all its colors and complexities and deficiencies, is better than channeling them into narrow authoritarian like-think that says “this is what you are supposed to be”.  How about teaching kids to explore the whole world and find the path that is right for them.

How about teaching innovation instead of obedience.

People wonder why the Philippines does not have many entrepreneurs, many inventors, many problem solvers. I’ll tell you why. Because the schools teach innocent and unshaped Filipino kids to be God-loving little robots who spew back what the teacher demands they say.


Obedient. Subservient. Limited.

  • The DepEd Mission. To provide quality basic education that is equitably accessible to all and lay the foundation for life-long learning and service for the common good.
Yada yada yada. Show me the plan.
The rest of the Web site has little useful information.
Here are some disciplines I recommend DepEd develop:
An appreciation of candor that acknowledges both strengths and weaknesses. DeEd is not running a political campaign requiring an image puff piece. This is serious business, the education of Filipino children. If we can’t trust you to tell it to us straight, how can we trust you in anything? What does “transparency” mean to DepEd? These are the people who are managing TEACHERS fer cryin’ out loud.
The method of metrics. You select critical metrics and work on them. Here are some ideas:
  • Average number of children per classroom
  • Average student achievement test scores (6th, 9th, and 11th years; also useful as information for colleges, employers, or TESDA)
  • Average quality of instructor (separate blog topic)
  • Average annual expense per student (excluding building construction costs)
In other words, identify the metrics that can be used to improve the learning environment, improve student achievement, improve quality of teaching, and reduce expense per child (the efficiency of teaching). If you sit down to figure out how to DO these things, all kinds of new ideas will arise.
Trust me, if you got any group of 10th graders together to solve the problem, they’d quickly say “we need to get our instruction onto the internet”.
How come DepEd can’t figure this out? These are old people, right? That’s my guess. Entrusted with creating a vibrant education for young people. Encrusted with intellectual arthritis.They CAN’T DO IT. Education is as screwed up as the judiciary.

But I’m confident they are all God-loving.

Okay. Okay. Back off, Joe. Crank down the cynicism a few notches. You are way down the overbearing path here.

I’m sure a lot of good work is being done in the schools and at DepEd. I respect teachers. Most have the well-being of children in their hearts. They work hard. They are overwhelmed with too many kids in a classroom. And I’m sure the people planning school construction have a challenge. And those responsible for all the text books.

But if the very simple value-things are beyond the grasp of educators, how can they deal with the details responsibly? If educators can’t grasp principles of innovation and release of the mind, how can they teach anything but how to be narrow and uninspired?

I’m afraid I don’t know how to find “first class” within the Department of Education. Maybe it is a cross cultural blindness I possess. Perhaps Filipinos with more experience or knowledge can help me out. Where is the “first class” representation of Philippine education around here?

Do you think DepEd should teach Filipino children to be “God loving”? How about obedient? How about subservient? How about innovative. Mathematics? English? Computers (spreadsheets, word processing and internet)? Climate change and ecology? Civic responsibilities?

Rank the importance, one to nine, one being the most important, nine the least.

My number one would be “innovative”. And “God-loving” would be off the list entirely.

23 Responses to “DepEd: "Developing God-Loving Filipinos"”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Call me a pessimist, but no matter how Deped's mission statementlook good on paper the biggest obstacle is how much of the allocated budget actually reaches the classroom.amor

  2. That would be a good metric as well. Share of budget actually reaching students. It will be interesting to see what information is presented in DepEd's "Transparency" section when that part of the web site is done. I think DepEd is hiding right now.

  3. cha says:

    Along with God-loving, I'd also take off subservient from the list. And obedient, too. I'd replace those with Respect and Responsibility/Self-accountability.(Did you miss Science and Technology in that list?)On the ten point education agenda:2. Universal Pre-schooling When my kids were in Kindergarten here in Oz, they did a little bit of all those (values ed, sports ..) and sleeping and playing too. Every Monday was news day, they had to stand in front of the class and talk about some important thing or event that happened to them the previous week. (My son mostly talked about our trips to the toy store, I think.) Great start in developing confidence and communication ability.5. Every child a reader by Grade 1 I think that this simply means they would have gained basic skills to help them along with their reading, like knowing the relationships between letters and sounds etc. such that they are actually able to work out how a new word they might come across would sound like. I used to volunteer as a reader-helper in my son's Grade 1 class. I would get 5-6 children in my group and have to listen to each read aloud from a short book. If they struggle with a word or don't get it right, that's when I step in. Otherwise I really just smile and nod and say "well done!" when they finish. Best volunteer task ever.6. Improve science and matehematics (What if you have a gifted child in science…) The Philippines Science High School System is a specialized public school system for exactly these gifted children. Admission is through a nationally administered test. The more underprivileged of the lot gets additional financial assistance on top of the free matriculation. They got monthly stipends for books, school supplies etc. (At least they did so during my time, I hope they still do.) They also get free housing inside the campus if they are not from the local area. Check out the website of the Philippine Science High School if you want to find out more.7. Expand government assistance to private education. My friend owns a Montessori school in Isabella. She has been asking for help from friends here in Australia to help these students that the government has passed on to them. They often are not able to buy the books and school supplies they need. Some live far and just walk to school. When it rains, all they have is a big plastic bag that they use to cover their heads with. There's still so much that needs to be done.8. Use of mother-language instruction Ok. Separate blog topic. 🙂

  4. andrew lim says:

    I think the Filipino Freethinkers have filed a complaint to the DepEd about this and they have responded.To show how shallow science education here can get: Binay, in reaction to the newest SWS survey showing only 3 UNA candidates in the top 12, said that he doesnt believe it. But since daughter Nancy is no. 7, he believes that part. So in effect, scientific polls using statistical methods cannot be appreciated by Binay. He is a cafeteria political animal, choosing to believe only things favorable to him!

  5. Hello Joe, you know I have an entire blog solely on this topic. With over 300 posts, the overarching themes are the following:1. Teachers are key to learning. They need independence and support. 2. Early childhood learning is the most important period of basic education.3. Science must be introduced to young children. It needs to be constantly nurtured throughout the years.4.Poverty affects learning in so many ways, but poverty in schools, if properly addressed, could alleviate poverty's negative effects.

  6. Edgar Lores says:

    1. I didn’t read the entire essay. I got turned off when I got to that part about God-fearing. Crikey!1.1 That must fall under (a) values under “Universal Pre-schooling for all”.1.2 I remember the naps! I remember I had a denim sleeping bag.2. For every problem from corruption to voting to political dynasties, everyone gives the answer of education this education that. 2.1 Which raises the question: How can we depend on education as the solution when it is part of the problem?2.2 I hear most of the maids in Hongkong are graduates of the Philippine Normal College, the institution of teaching for teachers.2.3 Teaching, like the priesthood, is a vocation. To a certain extent, when you get the call you expect that the monetary rewards are not that great. The rewards of being able to impart knowledge and to open young minds to the wonders of the universe are part of the sacrifice, the love. To give up that noble call to live under I-don’t- know-what conditions as a modern slave is grievous. 3. It may be that the website is not the real DepEd. It may be all about “cool looks”. It may just be some mascara that the people in charge thought was a good front. But you have to wonder. Surely the mascara follows the contours of all that is beneath.3.1 The point about metrics is important. That’s inside looking in. As important as this essay which is outside looking in.4. Sometimes discovering things in the Philippines is like turning over rocks. You never know what to expect, what will jump up at you.4.1 That’s part of the fun, I guess.5. I just read Cha's feedback before posting this. Wonderful – the teacher in her is showing.

  7. Thanks for the elaboration, Cha. (5) As Angel points out below,and as you illustrate in your own teaching, a lot rides on how skilled the teacher is at imparting confidence as well as skill at reading. I do agree reading is so critically important. A skill that is more important than "knowledge" because it opens the door to that knowledge. Also critically important is a child's confidence in himself.(8) Ha. Yes. You can write it! That and Muslim education. Similar issues. One of the very real difficulties the Philippine DepEd faces is Philippine language (and culture)and geographic (island) divisions. Macro macro issue. Do you preserve the differences or join as one?

  8. Hmm. I'll have to dig into the Freethinkers complaint. In the U.S., the Civil Liberties Union would have a very accomplished set of lawyers arguing the matter all the way to the Supreme Court. "God fearing" would not stand.

  9. Yes, and readers interested in education should definitely visit your blog at: four points are excellent. Number two is one that does cause me some concern as I see the high-discipline, somewhat stifling method of authoritarian teaching in the Philippines. I think it stifles a kid's ability to find joy in learning. And stifles self-confidence and innovation.

  10. Crikey, that was my reaction to the DepEd web page. I stopped reading. The essential question:"How can we depend on education as the solution when it is part of the problem?"It goes right along with:"How can we ensure justice for all when the judiciary is not open to all or just?"Re (3), yes, I think there are two DepEds. The real one working at difficult tasks. The other one the web "presentation". But then I ask, do the educators not grasp the meaning of "transparency"? How can you teach a subject if you don't know the subject?(Which causes me to recollect why I was not a teacher. I was trained up to teach but during my student teaching project I drew the "honor's geometry class" at the local high school and the kids knew more than I did. So I joined the army instead.)

  11. With regard to language, the British had its way of solving it hundreds of years ago. Singapore solved it as well as recent as decades ago. If you look closely at DepEd's language curriculum, reading in English is not taught until grade 3. Only the mother tongue has reading and writing in the early grades. An important question: Does the mother tongue have enough reading material to use?

  12. Yes, my argument has been go with English (because I believe it does the most to build wealth in the Philippines) but preserve local dialects as an element of upper education and history. DepEd states that instructional materials have been developed in eight dialects. That strikes me as a waste of energy and resources. Kids can easily pick up English at 4 years of age and that ought to be the mandate. Let go, let go. Move forward don't pine for the past.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I hope this is just a disconnect between the website and what's really happening. DepEd seems active in deploying Google tools for education. I was commenting on the "intruction to the internet" stuff.Adrian

  14. That would be great. I hope it is a disconnect, too. Thanks for the note.

  15. Anonymous says:

    With regards to the English language, it is known that children's language ability opens from birth up to 6 years old (or is it 2-6?). The government should consider exposing children several languages (Filipino, Chinese, their own dialect, English) during preschool years (before Grade 1). This way, children will not have a problem using any of the languages as a facility to learn. As a middle class parent, I prefer that my child be brought to this kind of daycares than to be left with his nanny while we are working.Adrian

  16. Yes, I agree. I've been in the Philippines for 7 years and my 4 year-old speaks Visayan better than I do.Thanks also for the link, below.

  17. Philippine Government websites are utterly useless like all private websites. E-mails to contact info is 99% comatosely unresponsively unresponded. Dealings with Gove;rnment and private interprise is still physical in-line than on-line. I have to skip work to pay my utility bills, credit card bills, file income tax, pay real estate taxes.TECHNOLOGY IS STILL ALIEN TO FILIPINOS. Religion still works using praying mental telepathic transactions.On #2. I have them all. Learned to read and write but passably encouraging that made my parents proud.On #3. Filipinos offer traditional Muslim education but Muslims do not offer Christian curricula. No wonder Christians are losing out to Muslim in membership. Possibly the reason Pope Benedict resigned.On#4. I took vocational with the insistence of my parents: Electricity, Cooking & Home Economics. Sciences, chemistry physics, algebra, pre-calculus advance geometry were already taughted to us at National Science HighOn#6. Went to National Science High. Parents proud. I wanted U.P. Parents told me U.P. is too radical. Only goot martsa-martsa against government. Most of all U.P. is blasé. Do not have a nice ring to it except it is elitist. Parking at U.P. is filled to the brim with new models. I thought U.P. was for the Poor.On#7. I love this. Parents should be encouraged to apply to U.P. and National Science High. These government schools should have free board & lodging, too.On#8. Derspite my proficiency in spoken English and French when I get mad, I still love my dialect. Greek to this day still speaks the greek of the medieval times. Tagalog ought not to be the national language. It should be the dialect that is widely spoken. I am afraid my exotic dialect will forever be lost forever.On#9. I love to read Philippine History textbooks which I realize now its facts are spotty at best more on promoting feel-goot stories. Just the same I love the stories of GomBurZa (Three friars named Gomez-Burgos-Zamora), Leon Kilat (Cebu’s legend “lightning lion”), Tres de Abril (Three of April nee: GomBurZa) and the infamous traitor lionized as hero Gen Aguinaldo. Limasawa (Five wives). Etymologies of names of provinces, etcetera. Philippine history books is like reading fairy tales. I’m lovin’ it.#10. al Fresco classroom under the mango tree is kind of cute. Of course I love the regular classroom with walls and roof when it rainsNO NEED OF TECHNOLOGY. Filipino OFW slaves do not have start and stop button. They just needing whips&canes, cajoling, and cow bells on their necks. If they break down send them back in a box. OFWs, main export commodities of the Philippines, contribute 20% of GDP factor in its trickle down effect and the Philippines is a booming economy with POEA as slave trading floor.NO METRICS. NO STATISTICS. NO DEMOGRAPHICS. The only statistics available is thru SWS. They can know who will win the political race. See? Filipinos are wired for politics. Department of Education do not teach kids to explore the whole world BECAUSE THEY WILL BE EXPLORING THE WORLD when they become OFWs.METHOD OF EMTRICS is missed out in DepEd: how parents income affects pupils outcome. Number of siblings/grade outcome. Food intake/grade outcome. Parents education level/grade outcome. HOW COME DepEd can’t figure these out? Because they are graduate from University of the Philippines, Ateneo, la Salle and Harvardian University (Davao City) If these ivy-schoolers cannot know, JUST IMAGINE how the rest of the Filipinos can know?

  18. Big chunk of money is spent on useless bungling bees and floating coffins purportedly to protect the two rocks from Chinese which to this day are still park in Manila Bay while the clunkers are sent to Sabah and Spratleys.

  19. It's a choice, eh? Guns or butter, guns or education. I don't think the Philippines is extavagant in its military spending. It must have some capacity to patrol and respond to smugglers, pirates and Chinese.

  20. Insightful cut at the DepEd plan.#3) It does seem to be a one-way street. Meet Muslim demands or lose your head.#4) Cooking & Home Ec have more applied value than calculus. My wife has an honorary Doctoral Degree gifted by me. I also awarded her an honorary Boxing belt.#6) Interesting, all the fine cars. I rather think there IS a solid middle class in the Philippines. It is just overwhelmed by the masses of laborers and indigents.#7) Yes! Let's pay parents to go back to school for round two. Because their homelife often destroys any good principles taught in school.#8) I agree. English proficiency should also be taught. Not fluency, like Mariano's. But proficiency. You only speak French on rare occasion, so you are excused.#9) That's downright poetic. I teared up a bit.#10) Its ants and mosquitoes that would bug me under the mango tree. Filipino mosquitoes like foreign cuisine.Re Technology. "Cow bells" ahahahahaha. Funny characterization, that paragraph.Metrics. Parents influence outcome. Soooo true. I think DepEd spends so much time, energy, and money working on the trees that they don't realize the forest is burning.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Hi, JoeAm. I'm a new fan. I often see you post on the comment threads on Rappler so I followed the link to your blog. Great post on DepEd and Philippine education in general. Although I have to disagree with you on English as the medium of instruction for younger kids. Here's an interesting study done by SIL Philippines on the matter. I hope you see the merits of the "mother tongue" approach. post made me realize, though, the hurdles of multi-lingual instruction here in the Philippines. Translating textbooks to different languages will definitely be expensive and time-consuming–there are at least 13 languages (yes, languages, not dialects) here in the Philippines with at least a million native speakers. K-12 is already being implemented but I think the schools in the provinces are poorly prepared for multi-lingual instruction.

  22. Thank you for visiting and for the link which is certainly a convincing document for the "mother tongue" approach. This bit rang clear with me:"Table 4 provides clear evidence that the use of the primary language as a language of instruction is not compromising children in learning the second language. Contrary to popular belief, the children who are receiving most or all of their instruction via English did consistently worse on a test of knowledge of English than did the experimental children."There is some sense to that, actually. The rigor of working two languages deepens and enriches the mind. I accept that.Thanks for providing this enlightenment. I shall change the nuance of my arguments going forward.And I'm glad you weren't scared off by my occasional tendency to rant. 🙂

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