IRREGULAR, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant and unconscionable; these are the adjectives used by the state auditors to describe the unexplainable spending of P13.9 billion at the Department of Education (DepEd). Included in the mess is the P254 million worth of instructional and learning materials.
Instructional materials (IMs) are the resources used as aid for instructions like realia of the globe and solar system, human anatomy replicas, 3D models, charts, and other AV aids. While learning materials (LMs) composed of literally big books especially designed for young learners, text books, teachers’ guides, modules, manuals, etc.
The 2018 audit report of Commission on Audit (COA) found out many irregularities in spending the education funds. One of those is the Deped report of 99 percent completion of the 47,000 new classrooms. Yet, for two years there was no actual construction made, and it was late to complete only 11 classrooms.
Another COA finding said, a 363-page “English Learner’s Material” designed for grade 3 was written by 15 authors (as in 30 eyes and 150 fingers) yet the finished product contained 430 errors. The excessive errors include wrong choice of words, grammatical, and factual mistakes and it contains repetitive and confusing sequence.
It further reported that millions of IMs and LMs in science and math were not delivered to the target recipients especially to the last mile schools. But instead, supplies were excessively given to those who don’t need them at all.
On September 28, 2012, then education secretary Armin Luistro issued Memorandum No. 108, instructing to post a signage in every Basic Education Classroom the adage “Honesty is the Best Policy” as a guiding post as were walking through former president Noynoy Aquino’s “daang matuwid.” The purpose is noble along with the K-12 program. Luistro then approved the P254.253-million contract for the IMs and LMs in preparation for the full implementation of K-12.
Now, here comes the COA findings where I could not see honesty as the best policy. How can we reconcile these two contrasting phenomena inside the DepEd with the dishonest practice discovered by the state auditors right at the headquarters, under the stewardship the higher echelons?
Along this vein, the education department is soundlessly teaching the Filipino children that the inherent goodness of every human being is a myth, deducting to a non-sense existence. With fiery eyes, may I ask if Deped’s self-worth is still intact and composed to give hope and assurance to the learners for a real moral recovery? Because I believe that mishandling of public funds for education is tantamount to propagating a corrupt quality of education.
We expect also that Senator Sonny Angara’s move for a senate inquiry regarding this matter will clear all doubts and somehow vindicate the department who has been continuously enjoying the biggest chunk of the national budget every year despite of its lame duck performance. Else, the government defeats the purpose of K-12 by continuously financing the clumsy vice of producing garbage, piled in the fire-hazard warehouses of Deped.
And, we wish that before secretary Leonor Briones steps down from her office, she will purge her department by requiring its rank and file to undergo a compulsory moral recovery colloquium for her to leave an indelible footprint of her sincere effort to inculcate that still “honesty is the best policy.” (firstname.lastname@example.org)