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DepEd’s Briones has gone too far

“At the end of the day, the accusing finger must point to DepEd Secretary Briones, she being the head of this woefully mismanaged agency.

Victor Avecilla

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The Department of Education (DepEd) under Secretary Leonor Briones has gone too far in terms of gross incompetence and inexcusable negligence. Past and current anomalies in the DepEd confirm it.

First, there is the unresolved issue of “sick books” published by the DepEd for distribution to public school students nationwide. The “sick books” are textbooks that contain rampant grammatical and spelling errors, and endless substantive errors regarding historical and scientific facts, among others.

Antonio Calipjo Go, a private school superintendent in Marikina City and a famous book crusader, is noted for exposing the large-scale errors in the “sick books.”
Go has repeatedly called the attention of DepEd authorities to the “sick books” problem, but Briones and her inutile bureaucrats have ignored Go’s overtures. As a result, the “sick books” remain in use and public school students end up believing their erroneous contents.

Thorough proofreading by DepEd personnel would have prevented that disservice to the youth, but Briones refuses to crack the whip in the DepEd. That’s gross incompetence on her part.

In the summer of 2020, Briones announced to the media that the DepEd is ready for the opening of classes nationwide on 24 August 2020. By early August, however, Briones publicly admitted that the DepEd was not ready as earlier announced, and convinced President Rodrigo Duterte to reset school opening to October 2020.

Another anomaly concerns the “sick learning modules” published by the DepEd, and distributed earlier this year to public schools nationwide supposedly to complement the online classes being implemented this semester. Like the “sick books,” the “sick learning modules” contain countless grammatical, clerical and substantive errors.

Obviously, Briones did not bother to have those “learning modules” properly reviewed by her personnel in the DepEd before causing their distribution to public schools.

Briones, it seems, is not at all bothered by the irreparable damage she has caused and continues to cause to public school children who have no choice but to use her “sick books” and her “sick learning modules.”

The latest anomaly pertains to a social science textbook published by the DepEd and currently used by Grade 2 pupils in the Cordillera Region. That textbook contains a cartoon depicting a school guarded by soldiers identified with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) engaged in a drinking binge. It is supposed to illustrate communities which are not functioning properly.

Carolyn Verano, the Schools Division Superintendent in Baguio City, said she did not realize that “the drunks in the cartoon were labeled.” She added that nobody noticed it, and she eventually apologized to the AFP.

The DepEd quickly disowned the cartoon and offered the lame excuse that the textbook was not properly reviewed by the DepEd regional office, and that the cartoon was merely lifted from the Internet.

However, a local school principal who requested anonymity, told news reporters that the cartoon emanated from an underground communist publication.

Filipino soldiers risk their lives and personal safety to protect the country from internal threats and external aggression. Portraying them in bad light in a textbook used by impressionable and gullible school children is unfair.

The superficial apology offered by the DepEd is not enough. Large sums of taxpayers’ money have been wasted by the DepEd. Heads should roll.

Since the cartoon has a possible link to an underground communist publication, the AFP should conduct its own investigation on the matter. That investigation will definitely reveal that, among other considerations, officials in the DepEd have been grossly negligent.

At the end of the day, the accusing finger must point to DepEd Secretary Briones, she being the head of this woefully mismanaged agency.

Briones’ reckless disregard for the need to have DepEd textbooks thoroughly proofread and reviewed before they are distributed to school children has gone far enough.

Her continuing incompetence and negligence have reached manifestly inexcusable levels. Public interest and the welfare of the Filipino youth demand that she resigns her post immediately.

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