LONG after he started to point out errors in school textbooks, a move that eventually led to a congressional inquiry, a parent lamented the books school children use these days still contain mistakes.
German national Helmut Haas, who teaches English to foreign students in Cebu, reiterated a call for the Department of Education (DepEd) to improve quality control in its committee on instruction materials. He also lamented the academe’s failure to help correct the errors.
“I’m not doing this just for myself, but for the sake of my children and the parents of children who spend a lot of money to buy these books,” Haas said in a recent interview.
He found so many errors in his son’s Grade 6 Music, Arts and Physical Education (MAPE) book (“Joyful Expressions”) that he was moved to quote from the play “My Fair Lady” to describe his disappointment: “By law, writers of this book should be taken out and hung for the cold-blooded murder of the English tongue.”
He also offered his services to parents who want to have their children’s school books corrected.
“Blatant twaddle” was how he described some errors he found.
Here’s an example: “Astronomers used their naked eyes to observe heavenly bodies.” His son’s MAPE book provides this instruction: “Dribble the ball while walking with one hand in different directions.”
Haas also criticized some English textbook authors in the country for using “antiquated” English.
These days, the DepEd is studying a proposal to add two years—one in grade school and another in high school—to the basic education program.
But a more basic concern—making sure DepEd-approved books are accurate—has not been addressed, Haas said, 13 years since he first raised his complaint about errors in school books.
“We should get good people in the right positions in the DepEd,” said Haas.
In the meantime, he also urged concerned parents to submit their children’s books to him, as he is available to review them. His telephone number is 346-1114.
Interviewed separately, DepEd 7 Director Recaredo Borgonia said measures to ensure the quality of textbooks in public schools are in place, but he also admitted errors still find their way into some textbooks.
He said textbooks for elementary and high schools, which are produced by the DepEd central office, go through a Textbook Evaluation Committee.
“We would appreciate it if Mr. Haas would communicate these supposed errors to DepEd so they could immediately be addressed,” he added.
Haas, then Cebu City councilor (now Vice Mayor) Joy Augustus Young and four of 15 consultants the City Government tapped to review school books had testified in 1997 during a House committee hearing.
They pointed out errors in grammar, concepts and illustrations.
Then education secretary Ricardo Gloria had promised to recall the erroneous books, as well as revamp the education department’s Instructional Materials Council.
Among the committee’s findings was that corruption in the procurement of department-approved school books partly contributed to their lack of quality.