MANILA, Philippines – The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) have denounced the plan of presumptive president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to appoint his running mate Sara Duterte as the next secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd), saying that the presumptive vice president’s “vision does not address the current crisis besetting the sector.”
Another group, the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) said it was time for “decisive actions to end the learning crisis.” PBEd added it was submitting an education plan for the consideration to the next administration.
In a statement on Thursday, May 12, ACT said that what the country needs is a “leadership that recognizes the learning crisis, the desperate quality of education, the chronically underpaid status of teachers, and the degeneration of the country’s sense of history and grasp of truth.”
“Sara Duterte has no recognition of these problems, that also worsened under her father’s rule, and has no track record in addressing these. How then can she resolve these crises?” asked ACT secretary general Raymond Basillo.
ACT said that what Duterte has in her sleeves is a “history of repressive rule and propagation of fake news, which can be seen in her emphasis on the need for a generation of Filipinos that advocate peace and discipline.”
Duterte accepted Marcos Jr’s offer to lead DepEd. She said that she would work on producing skilled students to realize their full potential as individuals.
“Our country needs a future generation of patriotic Filipinos that advocate peace and discipline in their respective communities,” she said.
The Marcos-Duterte tandem had been criticized for its lack of concrete plans to address the learning crisis in the Philippines, which was exacerbated by the pandemic. If there’s one plan that’s related to the education sector, Duterte said when elected she would push for mandatory military service for Filipinos once they turn 18 years old.
Duterte’s push for mandatory military training for the youth, however, was met with criticisms. Groups said that the “issue of discipline cannot be answered by submitting our youth to a militarist training that is known to abuse and murder its own cadets through hazing and is known for human rights abuses which we have experienced.” (READ: Sara Duterte’s push for mandatory military service shows ‘true militarist nature’ – groups)
Meanwhile, TDC said that the next DepEd chief should be an expert on education and who has previous experience as part of the sector. However, they recognized that appointing a DepEd chief is a prerogative of the chief executive, therefore, they said that what Duterte should focus on when she assumed the position.
In a statement on Wednesday, May 11, TDC said that the plans to reform the sector should focus “not only on the rights and welfare of teachers but for learners and the school system as well.”
“It includes a better compensation package, implementation of the 1966 vintage Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, compensation for those affected by COVID-19, free post graduate education, provision of free laptop computers and internet services, and the creation of a separate insurance system and hospital for teachers, among other long overdue benefits,” TDC said.
The group also said that the next DepEd administration should strengthen a curriculum that promotes national development, sense of patriotism and promotes peace and human rights, a curriculum that will produce Filipinos who are proud of their history and culture.
Meanwhile, the PBEd said that it was committed to “advocating for quality education for all Filipinos.”
“We stand united with the Filipino people in calling for decisive actions to end the learning crisis,” PBEd said. The organization added that it would submit its proposed “First 100-day Action Plan on Education” to the next administration.
It also called on the next administration to “activate” private sector participation as a “tool of education governance.”
The looming appointment of Duterte as DepEd chief concerns education stakeholders as they fear for further historical revisionism. The Philippines is facing a learning crisis with students not having enough knowledge on Philippine history and the atrocities of the Marcos family during the Martial Law period.
With Duterte as likely the next DepEd chief, will she bring back Philippine history subject as core curriculum in high school? Will she strengthen media and information literacy as a subject in this age of disinformation on social media?
Rappler ran a series of stories titled History in crisis tackling how the pandemic is worsening the learning crisis in the Philippines and disinformation among students.