COA calls out DepEd's questionable contracts, P254M erroneous textbooks
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) spent P254 million for contracts to produce textbooks which were found to be erroneous, as auditors also called out that the contracts to develop the textbooks within the agency were wrong in the first place.
"The contract cost of these questioned learning materials amounted to ₱254,352,302.83," said the Commission on Audit (COA) in its 2018 audit report of the DepEd.
State Auditors cited news reports that examined the errors of Araling Panlipunan, English and Science textbooks, which it validated through their own examination and interviews of teachers.
Teachers told auditors that the textbooks were "not in line with the curriculum guide," and that they have had to "resort to using supplemental resources such as books in private schools and internet."
Auditors also pointed out that the contracts were wrong in the first place, because the DepEd developed the textbooks when Republic Act No. 8047 or the Book Publishing Industry Development Act says private publishers should develop the textbooks and not DepEd.
Auditors cited Section 11 of the law which stipulated participation of private publishers in the public school textbook program. It said: "Publishers shall develop and submit to the DECS those syllabi and/or prototypes and manuscripts or books intended for use in the public schools for testing, evaluation, selection and approval."
However, what the DepEd did was to engage writers whose works were checked by the agency's Bureau of Curriculum Development (BCD) and Bureau of Learning Delivery (BLD).
"Clearly, this is a circumvention of Sections 10 and 11 of RA No. 8047 which prevented the Department from publishing and distributing its own textbook, instead of allowing the private publishers to produce and supply the textbook requirements of every public school in the country," said COA.
Auditors also added that the errors in the textbooks indicated that DepEd's own process was not diligent and meticulous.
The COA also found that P113.708 million worth of buffer stock of textbooks remain undistributed to recipient schools.
Calling it "alarming," auditors said 3.4 million copies of texbooks intended for public schools nationwide remain unutilized and idle in warehouses in Taguig.
The books were procured as buffer stock for school years 2014 to 2017. They are meant to supply newly created schools, or replace lost books.
Based on COA's count, only 15.77% of the buffer stock was pulled out and provided to schools in typhoon-stricken areas.
Auditors categorized the procurement as falling under irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant and unconscionable expenditure.
This has been a persistent problem within DepEd as auditors continue to call out even the state of warehouses that could damage textbooks without them being used.
"The Management assured that they will revisit the existing DepEd guidelines on the procurement of instructional materials and will evaluate the controls on buffer stocks. Regarding the large number of learning materials procured, they already allocated the materials and there is already an approved Activity Request (AR) and is in the process of releasing the materials," was DepEd's response according to the audit report. – Rappler.com
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