Early education-A A +A
An Independent View
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
THE Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) is funding an $18 million program aimed at improving the learning environment for pre-school children.
This program is to be implemented by DepEd, DSWD and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). According to DSWD Sec Soliman, it is an “investment to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.” We wish the program well. If the poverty cycle is to be broken anywhere, it is via quality education.
Quality early education is vital and since, due to RA 10157, the Kindergarten Education Act, a year of kindergarten education is now “compulsory,” DepEd has a corresponding obligation to provide a satisfactory learning environment. If parents are not satisfied with their children’s kindergarten education, they should say so. It is high time for those in “authority” to recognize that they have a corresponding responsibility. We believe that, in practice, DepEd is far too aware of its authority but is insufficiently addressing its obligations to the community.
What then is wrong? Why is the Nation’s quality of ‘education’ not up to international standards?
Educationist Philip Carpina suggests that it is due to a lack of teacher training. My belief is that teachers should reach a higher academic standard before they become teachers. Specifically, an aspiring math or science teacher should take a four year tertiary education course in math or science before undertaking teacher training. Our high schools will then have mathematicians and scientists who are teachers rather than, at present, where we have teachers who have taken a smattering of math or science as part of their teacher training program. This is how to make Philippine education competitive on the international stage.
To recruit and retain teachers who have excellent tertiary qualifications, we need to pay more and we need to treat them with more respect. Teachers regale us with horror stories as to how their employer does not provide essential materials, for example chalk, and, indeed, expects there materials to be sourced by the teachers at their own expense. Education management in the Philippines is weak and we shall not be internationally competitive until we have better management.
The concept that we need to have a better education system so as to be competitive in the international workplace may not be accepted by DepEd Secretary Luistro. But pragmatic parents and students recognize the close relationship between investment in quality education, and being able to have a satisfying career. We would appreciate it if those responsible for the Nation’s proposed education strategy understand this. Increasing the length of high school education from four years to six years with no discernible improvement in standards is just not acceptable to parents and their elected representatives in Congress.
It is deceptive for DepEd to pretend to see the Kindergarten Act to be a precursor of K-12. We have seen DepEd’s fads come and go: SEDP, BEC, SEC, UbD, K-12. Congress has not shown that it supports a system having six years of high school.
Let’s have a sincere dialogue between DepEd and the rest of us. If DepEd listens, which it has not done in the past, it would learn something.
“How can we get wisdom…. whose talk is of bullocks?” -- Ecclesiasticus ch.38 v.25
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 06, 2013.