Good deal of work remains

Good deal of work remains

We join netizens in going to town in pointing out errors in the self-learning modules produced by the Department of Education for 22.5 million students nationwide, in time for the opening of classes on October 5.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones had described the opening of distance education – unprecedented in the history of education in this country because of the global pandemic – as “very successful” and noted that recorded glitches were but minimal.

Her words at a news briefing: “Generally as a whole, the launching of classes is very successful. You can only count on your fingers the number of problems that happened. On the basis of these 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 incidents of errors that happened, for example in modules, it appears that it was not the fault of DepEd.”

Her declaration of victory against COVID-19 during the official opening of classes posthaste earned the wrath of several groups, including those who lamented issues hounding the education sector on the launching of the school year during the health emergency.

While Briones admitted the opening of classes was not perfect, she referred to the presidential judgment: “When the President made the final decision (on the opening of classes) and we implemented it, that was a major victory considering the noisy and vicious criticism and exchange of arguments that confused the public in sifting truth from fiction.

“The fact that we were able to open schools for this academic school year is a victory in itself because of all the vicious noise that was going on from very limited groups.”

What Briones failed to acknowledge, the victory notwithstanding, were the errors called out by many in social platforms which were discovered soon as the classes opened.

We are glad the Department of Education immediately came up with a statement – and we hope it does not stop in the statement – it will address errors found in the self-learning modules (SLMs) it had produced and printed in a rush to roll out distance learning for school year 2020-2021 amid the coronavirus pandemic that prohibited face-to-face classes.

Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said the DepEd was hiring outside reviewers of the SLMs being used by their students, at the same time echoing sentiments from the department it welcomed netizens’ efforts to call out the errors.

He said the department’s Public Affairs Service had already posted links and contact numbers where these errors can be reported.

“What we’re doing now, our Public Affairs Service (has) already posted links or contact numbers where (people) can directly report the errors they will find in our self-learning modules,” San Antonio said.

We take note of his assurance that his office also launched a Facebook page, dubbed DepEd Curriculum and Instruction Concerns and Issues, where such errors and other issues of concern on public school and distance learning could be reported and discussed.

San Antonio said Education Undersecretary Alain del Pascua was now negotiating with potential partners for DepEd to help out in making better SLM content.

What is pretty disturbing is San Antonio’s admission that the failure to review all SLMs was due to DepEd‘s lack of reviewers as they rushed to prepare for the Oct. 5 opening of online learning.

That line invites a quick question. Did not DepEd perhaps think that its lack of reviewers, if indeed that is the reason, might become a blowback eventually?

San Antonio said DepEd had to rush the learning materials before the opening of classes in public schools last Oct. 5 to produce and print out the SLMs, so that some modules did not undergo “conformance review” by the DepEd central office.

Blatantly pathetic, that.

San Antonio, at a weekly virtual “Handang Isip, Handa Bukas” press conference, said they monitored the errors in the SLMs that recently went viral on social media and had tallied 35 errors, of which San Antonio said only one incident with an error in an SLM had undergone quality check by the DepEd Curriculum and Instruction review team.

He said there were 18 SLMs with errors that were designed and printed out by the DepEd division and regional offices, that did not go through the conformance review of the C&I Strand reviewers at the Central Office.

Some 15 of the errors in the SLMs, he said, are assumed to be SLMs used in private schools.

This is where we say an assertion without proof is an assertion denied,

San Antonio pointed out that the SLMs being used in all the schools had different authors.

We also note Sen. Risa Hontiveros branded as highly unfair the criticisms against teachers in light of alleged errors and confusing questions found in the SLMs.

Hontiveros, whose office received reports from the group Teachers Dignity Coalition, said the module mistakes should instead be attributed to the rushed opening of classes that resulted in DepEd’s failure to standardize and strictly evaluate learning materials.

We agree with Hontiveros that DepEd should form a technical working group composed of master teachers and experts who will screen SLMs before distributing to schools.

In standardizing SLMs, we believe this will lessen the task of teachers already hobbled by heavy teaching loads, with many complaining they are developing modules in addition to their teaching load.

If there is any sparkle at all in this confusing situation, it is San Antonio’s assurance DepEd will address the errors seen by teachers and netizens.

In the meantime, there remains a good deal of work to be done by our education authorities.

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