More than a decade since the issue of error-laden textbooks shocked the country, major errors still conveniently find their way to public school textbooks, this according to University of the Philippines History professor Maria Serena Diokno.
“This is because Department of Education (DepEd) rules allow book authors to make three major mistakes and still get a ‘perfect grade’ from reviewers,” Diokno revealed.
And more than a decade since, Antonio Calipjo Go continues to blame DepEd officials, authors, and publishing houses for the sad state of local textbooks.
Go, academic supervisor at the Marian School of Quezon City, was responsible for the discovery of a number of defective textbooks being used in public and private elementary and high schools. He found out that English textbooks used by Grades 1 to 6 pupils were “peppered by countless grammatical and conceptual errors,” casting doubt on the effectiveness of DepEd’s evaluation process.
DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro however said the concerned textbooks have already been identified and validated. “We found that some are not really errors and that they were already corrected. The corrections are already included in the teaching notes which are printed and distributed, with expenses charged to the publisher. These teaching notes are also available on the web at http://imcs.weebly.com,’’ Luistro noted.
Lack of time, not talent?
Luistro had said earlier that the errors were not caused by the lack of talent or expertise on the part of the textbook reviewers, but by lack of time – from the release of funds, to writing, review, printing, and distribution to schools.
As a solution, Luistro recommended a review of the timetable to see where the lag time happens, and resolve it.
Based on DepEd data, there are 86.2 million textbooks on inventory. The current national textbook ratio is 1:1 for English, Science, Mathematics, and Social Studies. “Breaking it down further, we can see that there are textbooks that are still in the 1:4 ratio.
I also received reports of schools that are yet to receive the books,” Luistro added.
Slowly but surely
The decision to pull out the textbooks in question depends on costs. For instance, “Asya,” a textbook for second year high school, was pulled out because it was cheaper to do so. The book was replaced by an interim handbook.
DepEd spokesperson and Undersecretary for Legal and Legislative Affairs Alberto Muyot said the DepEd cannot just replace error-filled books because based on the curriculum, these books should be good for five years.
Nevertheless, most textbooks containing errors have been replaced as there are already about 5.73 million “corrected” textbooks that have been distributed nationwide. Among them are Science Years 1 to 4, Math Years 1 to 4, Music and Arts Years 1 and 3 and PE and Health Year 4.
Steps to take
Muyot said that DepEd is now focusing on ways to prevent the proliferation of error-filled books, among them a review of the content, grammar, design of textbooks and teachers’ manual, as well as the quality of editing, and the procurement of manuscripts.
“We are also looking into asking master teachers and language experts to help see if the presentation, language, and visuals are appropriate for the target audience, and if the contents are grammatically correct,” Muyot said.
Muyot also said that DepEd is looking into the possibility of blacklisting publishers responsible for error-filled books, and administering stricter tests for the new set of evaluators.
As DepEd plans to upload the Teaching Notes for Elementary English Graded 1 to 6 textbooks and teacher’s manuals (TXs & TMs) in the DepEd website, the department is also looking into asking the editorial board to review the manuscripts of TXs and TMs that had been identified as the highest ranking in content according to guidelines set by the Department.
DepEd is also seriously considering uploading the PDF file of selected manuscripts in its website so that concerned stakeholders can provide comments and feedback to improve the manuscripts.
Recently, the DepEd conducted the Instructional Materials Council Secretariat (IMCS) seminar for publishers who wish to join in the bidding for the procurement of textbooks for first year high school using the Understanding by Design (UbD) approach.
IMCS executive director Socorro Pilor explained that in the seminar, authors and publishers were given an overview of the curriculum and textbooks for each subject, and guides on grammar and orthography using the Filipino language. They were also oriented on social issues and concerns on the content in texts and visuals of textbooks, as well as how to secure copyright under the Intellectual Property Law.
Go, the textbook critic, also talked on the topic of avoiding errors and content through research.