Department of Education

[Rappler’s Best] Big shoes to fill

Glenda M. Gloria

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[Rappler’s Best] Big shoes to fill

Marian Hukom/Rappler

'Senator Sonny Angara knows he has big shoes to fill as he formally assumes his post as education secretary on July 19'

Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara knows he has big shoes to fill as he formally assumes his post as education secretary on July 19. And I don’t mean the shoes of his predecessor, Vice President Sara Duterte, but those of his late father, the political giant that was former senator Edgardo J. Angara.

Before he served the post-EDSA Philippine Senate and helped shepherd the difficult transition from the Marcos dictatorship to Cory Aquino’s administration, SEJA, as he was fondly called, carved a mark in education – serving at one time as president of the University of the Philippines and being a strong advocate for education reform. Some of Senator Angara’s peers today – former Senate president Migs Zubiri and Senator Loren Legarda, among others – were also mentored by SEJA. (Speaking of the Senate, it’s now but a shadow of its old self from the days of the old Angara in the 8th Congress in 1988. In this data story, researcher James Patrick Cruz tracks how the upper chamber has evolved from an institution of statesmen to showmen.)

The younger Angara’s appointment to an executive post was welcomed by many, given that he did not shy away from addressing systemic issues as a legislator. Read our profile of him in 2013, his first run for the Senate: From textbooks to tax books. (Related story: What happens when a lawmaker gets appointed to the Cabinet?)

But it would be his first time to navigate a massive bureaucracy, and one that is as seemingly unwieldy as the Department of Education (DepEd). The challenges are enormous, the expectations big. And that’s not even taking into account the mess that the Vice President left behind. 

The most urgent need that, ironically, requires long-term solutions is to equip teachers with skills that would improve learning outcomes. Dr. Feliece Yeban, a teacher-educator and human rights professor, recommends in this piece that we have to move beyond blaming overworked teachers and shift to a more deregulated environment for them that would allow for greater flexibility and innovation.

On a positive note for higher education, a bill mandating private colleges and universities to waive fees for their entrance exams has just been turned into a law. Read about it here.

Meanwhile, it’s a big day today for Philippine-Japan ties as the second 2+2 meeting between the foreign and defense ministers of both countries is held in Manila. Both sides will be signing the Reciprocal Access Agreement. What does this agreement mean, and why now? Read this explainer by Rappler security and foreign affairs reporter Bea Cupin. –

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Glenda M. Gloria

Glenda Gloria co-founded Rappler in July 2011 and is currently its executive editor.