Probe sought on DepEd textbook lack, process

Probe sought on DepEd textbook lack, process

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 05:32 AM March 22, 2024

Probe sought on DepEdtextbook lack, process

LIMITED RESOURCE A property custodian sorts and stacks textbooks at Kamuning Elementary School, Quezon City. Long after this photo was taken in May 2016, the lack of such basic classroom materials still plagues many public schools.—NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

In the wake of the acute lack of textbooks and other learning materials in public schools, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian has filed a resolution seeking an inquiry to assess the Department of Education’s (DepEd) procurement process.

Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on basic education, filed Senate Resolution No. 972 as an offshoot of the reports of the Second Congressional Commission on Education (Edcom II) and the Southeast Asian Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM).


Gatchalian cited the results of the SEA-PLM 2019, which showed that 26 to 28 percent of Grade 5 learners in the Philippines either did not have textbooks or shared the use of language or mathematics textbooks with one or more learners.


The SEA-PLM 2019 further found out that learners who shared the use of textbooks and those who did not have textbooks scored significantly lower than those who had their own textbooks.

The Edcom II Year One Report also noted the low usage of the budget for textbooks and other instructional materials.

Of the P12.65 billion total allocation from fiscal year 2018 to 2022, it said only P4.47 billion, or 35.3 percent, has been obligated and a smaller P951.9 million, or 7.5 percent, has been actually disbursed.

“[T]he findings of the Edcom II Year One Report revealed that since the K-to-12 curriculum was introduced in 2013, only 27 textbook titles have been procured by the DepEd out of the 90 textbook titles required from Grades 1 to 10, with only Grades 5 and 6 having [a] complete set of textbooks for all subjects,” the resolution said.

“Considering the significant role of textbooks and other learning materials in enabling learners to acquire the necessary knowledge and develop critical thinking skills, there is an urgent need to address problems in the DepEd’s procurement of textbooks and other learning materials,” Gatchalian said in the resolution.

He lamented that more than two decades after the passage of Republic Act (RA) No. 8047, or the Book Publishing Industry Development Act, which effectively transferred the publication and distribution of textbooks from the government to the private sector, teachers in DepEd “still report that they are not receiving textbooks on time, resulting in either no textbooks to be used by learners or sharing and rotating books.”


This also resulted in teachers producing alternative learning materials for their students, sometimes at their own expense, he added.

Will cooperate

Sought for comment on Thursday, the DepEd spokesperson, Undersecretary Michael Poa, said the agency was willing to cooperate in the Senate investigation sought by Gatchalian.

“The procurement of textbooks is currently underway,” Poa said in an ambush interview. “The said procurement is being done under a new set of guidelines in response to issues encountered in the past. That being said, we will always cooperate with the Senate.”

READ: Gatchalian: Textbooks for new DepEd curriculum to be ready by July

According to Gatchalian, the purpose of the inquiry was to identify and address procurement challenges and gaps and to craft the needed complementary or amendatory legislation.

Procurement issues

The resolution has been referred to the Senate committee on finance as the primary committee, with a secondary referral to the committee on basic education.

RA 11899 created Edcom II to undertake a comprehensive national assessment and evaluation of the performance of the Philippine education sector and recommend transformative, concrete, and targeted reforms needed to make the Philippines globally competitive in both the education and labor markets.

Gatchalian said the Edcom II consultation with DepEd, the National Book Development Board, and groups of private textbook publishers identified several procurement issues.

These included the insufficient development time as DepEd gives only six months instead of the typical 18-month timeline required for the development of quality textbooks; prolonged review processes of learning materials at both the selection and finalization stages; high participation cost with steep evaluation fees of P25,000 per title or a P150,000 cumulative fee for titles covering Grades 1 to 6 for one subject, without guarantee that their manuscripts will be selected for publication, and pricing issues with DepEd having less flexibility in adjusting textbook prices despite imposing higher standards for paper quality and production timelines compared to their private sector counterparts.

Education quality

“In the absence of textbooks, learners and teachers use learners’ manuals, self-learning modules (SLM), activity sheets, and other locally developed learning resources,” the senator noted.

“The production of SLMs was charged against the [budget for] learning resources under the flexible learning options and did not use the funds allocated for the procurement of textbooks. However, concerns were raised about the quality of SLMs and teachers extracting content from copyrighted textbooks,” he added.

“In the midst of our efforts to raise the quality of education in the country, it is important to ensure that every student has enough books. It is now the time for us to look at how we could address the challenges to our education system when it comes to the lack of books and other learning materials,” Gatchalian said.

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He also noted that ahead of the expected rollout of the “Matatag” curriculum starting the school year 2024-2025, DepEd has committed to deliver 80 percent of textbooks for Grades 1, 4 and 7 by July 2024. —WITH A REPORT FROM DEMPSEY REYES

TAGS: DepEd, Education, Gatchalian, Textbooks

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