Earlier last week, my social media thread suddenly became vibrant with posts from friends making fun of yet another flop by the Department of Education in a published learning material for Grade 3 pupils. The material used the photo image of Cabugao Gamay a known tourist destination in Carles, Iloilo and identified it as Caramoan Islands in Camarines Sur. While the lapse is not new as there were instances before of the same nature, the current error happened with the controversial request of confidential funds by Education Secretary Sara Duterte in the background.

I really can’t imagine how the section or department inside DepEd that is assigned in producing such reading materials could be so reckless or work with utter disregard of basic editing and proofreading that such kind of errors happen again and again. I mean they are being paid using the people’s money and the most they can do is to produce such kind of erroneous reading materials. Worst, we are talking here of reading materials that are being used as foundations of basic education. Or is it possible that the lack of DepEd personnel or too much workload on a person assigned to do the job of proofreading and editing are the primary cause of these lapses? Or perhaps, it’s about irresponsibility on the part of those working on the said modules that they delegate everything to the contractor assigned to print the materials.

No matter what the reasons are, the lapses are reflective of the kind of leadership the education department has. This is the problem if the head of the agency was appointed out of political considerations. Being vice president does not necessarily qualify Sara Duterte to head the Education portfolio. She may be famous and an experienced local leader prior her election as vice president but it doesn’t mean that she is the most qualified to lead the department. Of course, I must make myself clear that I am not underestimating her capabilities. In fact, I am one of those who voted for her. All I am saying is simple, being a good surgeon does not make one a good carpenter.

And you can only imagine the head of the education department slugging it out with the legislators just to have her requested P150-million confidential fund approved. She may have failed and eventually conceded that she can’t have her CF but her act only qualified her understanding of her role as education secretary. She would rather address the eroding literacy rate in the country and the low quality of education by equating it with national security while arguing that the communists are infiltrating the schools with their ideologies. It’s unfortunate that instead of sitting down with qualified and distinguished educators and seeking a thorough dialogue on how to improve the quality of education in the country, Sara Duterte was busy arguing with Congress to have a confidential fund allocated for DepEd.

Learning materials are of utmost importance in helping educators inculcate the value of knowledge among the young minds. It’s hard to imagine our teachers trying their best to help mold the minds of the younger generation using erroneous learning materials. Sadly, the problematic learning materials are just the icing on the cake. I am afraid Secretary Duterte is not even aware that until now, several schools are holding classes under the trees and makeshift classrooms. I am even certain that she has not attempted to resolve the very high ratio of students per teachers in public schools thus resulting in inefficiency and ineffectiveness.

Now who is to blame for the quality of education in our country?