Carvajal: Impossible unless

Break Point

“The Department of Education protects and promotes the right of all citizens to quality basic education.”—DepEd Website

You can’t articulate DepEd’s mission any more unequivocally. Yet pertinent education figures prove this to be impossible of fulfillment.

We don’t have 2019 enrollment figures yet but DepEd expects 27.2 million school-age children to troop back or for the first time to public (22.8 million) and private (4.4 million) basic education schools. That’s 26.66 percent of our population of 105 million and evidently does not include children who are not enrolling back or for the first time because of poverty, sickness, special needs and the like reasons.

Given these figures and our being a poor country there is just no way DepEd can fulfill its otherwise noble mission. There are just too many schoolchildren to feed and provide with classrooms, qualified teachers and all kinds of other school paraphernalia. True, public schools, by explicit policy, are not allowed to refuse enrollment to any child. But what if there are no classrooms?

(To put this in perspective, wealthy Germany, known for its quality education system, only has 8.36 million basic education students representing 10 percent of its population of 82.79 million. Wealthier U.S.A.’s adjudged-to-be-lesser-quality education system has 56.6 million basic education students or 17 percent of its 357.2 million population.)

Worse still, the 27.2 million children who enroll are most likely not getting a quality basic education. There are too many students per teacher for the latter to be able to do more than skim the surface of students’ psyches. Teaching hours are also likely cut to a minimum as classrooms have to be shared by the morning and afternoon shifts of students.

A likely third reason would be the lack of quality teachers because these understandably have to be mass-produced to meet the big demand. But even assuming we have enough quality teachers, they are probably so overworked and so underpaid as not to have the energy and motivation to give quality education to their students.

We cannot reduce the number of children but we can slow down the rate that we reproduce. Education is so critical for national development we should stop population growth from outpacing our economic growth. Neda that now supervises Popcom must come to the rescue and insure that the number of children does not outpace the number of classrooms.

This it can do by optimizing the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law. Unless we stop reproducing like rabbits, as Pope Francis puts it, DepEd’s mission of protecting and promoting the right of all citizens to quality basic education is baloney or, to be nice about it, an impossible dream, unless...


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