The Department of Education (DepEd) has repeatedly come under fire from netizens for its defective and erroneous “learning” modules. The modular learning setup is riddled with faults. Compounding the problem is quality control, or lack of one, adding to the woes of an already troubled school year.

Because of its mismanagement of the school year, DepEd had earned itself a free quality assurance consultation (and retribution) from the general public through the social media, where there has been criticism left and right over the flawed self-learning modules (SLM), TV episodes, and Youtube videos distributed and published by DepEd.

In March this year, a Grade 5 student from South Cotabato wrote a letter to DepEd citing the apparent sexism in an activity in an SLM where students were asked to attribute characteristics such as “strong, always crying, confident, fragile, moody and brave” to either a man or a woman. The answer key disclosed that “confident, strong and brave” are male characteristics while “always crying, fragile and moody” are female.

The local DepEd office said the mistake was regrettable and recalled the SLM.

But this was not the first instance DepEd was called out for errors.

In December 2020, the DepEd drew social-media flak from musicians and music teachers for publishing a video of a teacher erroneously demonstrating basic rhythmic patterns in music.

The teacher in the video clapped twice for a half note and four times for a whole note, demonstrating the steady beat of the measure instead of the note’s rhythmic pattern. Rhythm is the pattern of relative durations and stresses on the notes on a piece of music.
It would have been correct had she clapped at the first count and continued counting until two for the half note, and clapped at the first count and continued counting until four for the whole note.

Furthermore, the teacher also read the time signature as “four-fourths” as if it was a fraction when it should have been read as “four four”, known as “common time” in music.
The video was posted on DepEd’s Youtube channel on December 21, 2020, and was taken down 11 days after, thanks to netizens themselves pointing errors out.

In another blunder, the DepEd was criticized for publishing an SLM that outrightly identified actress Angel Locsin as “an obese person” who had become such due to her alleged lifestyle of eating fast food and for being physically inactive.

The mere fact that music and the arts are cramped up in one unit of a subject together with physical education and health at the elementary level reflects the scarce regard that the leaders of the education sector are paying to subjects that cultivate the humanities—an important aspect that contributes to a development of a progressive civilization that is seemingly taken for granted in this country. No wonder basic mistakes such as these are overlooked on their watch.

A few months into distance learning, after reportedly 41 errors in its SLMs including but not limited to factual, computational and grammatical errors, DepEd responded to the criticism by launching an error watch; it will gather reports of mistakes found in distributed learning materials such as modules and broadcast content. As if the P 751.7 billion or 16.7 percent of its P4.506-trillion budget in 2021 is still insufficient to employ qualified experts for the job.

Pointing out the defective learning supplements from DepEd is just peeling the thin skin of the rotten onion that is the mismanagement of the basic education system in the country.
Even before the pandemic started and forced everyone to shift to distance learning, DepEd already had to deal with the problem of improving the quality of basic education in the Philippines.

In a 2018 evaluation by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) of 79 nationalities, Filipino students from private and public schools ranked least in reading proficiency, 78th in mathematics, and 71st in science.

In response to the dismal results, DepEd vowed in 2019 that it would raise the quality of basic education through aggressive reforms in four areas namely: K-to-12 review and updating; improvement of learning facilities; teachers and school heads’ upskilling and reskilling through a transformed professional development program; and engagement of all stakeholders for support and collaboration.

It is irresponsible and pitiful for the DepEd to resort to appeals of pity for understanding over contemptible materials being supplied to learners when it has made promises to aggressively improve the quality of basic education in the country.

The long-standing troubled basic education system cannot be resolved by band-aid solutions such as an error watch or flowery slogans promising quality education backed up by incompetence and non-transparency, nor will this problem be resolved by adding more years of basic education to the curriculum.

The young learners of this country deserve quality education promised by the Constitution, governed by leaders with the integrity to adhere to their job descriptions and provide students with supreme learning supplements even without scrutiny from unsolicited sources.


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