It's not just about appointing new DepEd Secretary, but reforming the education agenda—teachers

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This article is available in Pilipino

Teachers and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) have expressed their views regarding Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s recent statement that he is having a hard time choosing a new secretary for the Department of Education (DepEd). According to the teacher’s group, Marcos Jr needs to address not just the search for a new secretary, but the very orientation of the administration’s education agenda.

“Whoever the President appoints as the DepEd Secretary, if his main goal is just to raise the country’s standing in international assessments so that Filipino workers become more marketable to foreign businesses, we cannot expect any real change in education,” according to Vladimer Quetua, ACT chairperson.

According to the group, if the Marcos administration does not change its low funding for the education sector and fail to address the numerous deficiencies in schools, classrooms, facilities, teachers, staff, and resources, the deplorable state of education in the country will not improve.

DepEd data from August 2023 reveals a shortage of 159,000 classrooms nationwide. Meanwhile, in the same period, overcrowded classrooms were recorded at 50% in senior high school, 41% in junior high school and 32% in elementary.

Teachers and their unions have long complained about the overwhelming administrative works on top of teaching large numbers of students. This has further burdened them, in addition to their already meager salaries.

“We should rectify our education system’s century-old distorted orientation and thrust of being a diploma mill for English-speaking cheap and docile labor,” Quetua said.

He said the orientation of education should be towards creating citizens with a strong patriotic stance, proficient in scientific study, and capable of critical and creative thinking. The youth should also be taught to have a deep desire to serve the nation to drive the country’s true progress.

Sara Duterte resigned as DepEd Secretary on June 19 and will completely vacate the position on July 19. Teachers welcomed Duterte’s exit from the department as she has failed to address the education crisis over the past two years.

AB: It's not just about appointing new DepEd Secretary, but reforming the education agenda—teachers