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By Dang Samson Garcia

ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro expressed grave concern on the dismal learning situation in the country.

“Aside from its findings that the Philippines remains among the poorest in learning in East Asia and the Pacific, with nine out of 10 Filipinos unable to read and understand a simple, age-appropriate reading material by age 10, the World Bank report on the quality of education in the region, also red flagged the Philippines as being among the worst countries —because the Philippine government spending on education represented only 3.2 percent of the country’s wealth or gross domestic product when it should be at least 6,” Castro said.

The solon stressed this is a matter the Alliance of Concerned Teachers have been pointing out to correct for years now.

“The WB study also emphasized that central in solving the learning crisis is to support our teachers. This can be done by significantly increasing their salaries and benefits, lessening their workload and giving them ample time to rest and recharge. All of these have been raised by ACT decades ago but officials of the DepEd hardly listen,” she added.

Castro explained the unprecedendent drop in enrollment at the opening of this school year, with 2 million school-age children unaccounted for, revealed the ongoing damage to education caused by the pandemic years as well as the worsening economic situation, requiring urgent teaching and learning interventions, not surveillance activities nor trips abroad.

“With such a deep learning crisis, we need an educator with knowledge, experience, and compassion for students, teachers, and education workers who will focus full time at the helm of Deped. In short, we need someone who knows what she’s doing – not a politician who considers it a stepping stone to higher office and treats the Deped as a law enforcement agency,” Castro further said.

(by Dang Samson Garcia)

ACT TEACHERS Party-list Representative France Castro called on the Department of Education to restore the accurate historical representation of the martial law period in textbooks used in schools.

Castro also urged her fellow legislators to join her in defending the truth and ensuring that the next generation is aware of the atrocities and human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos.

“The decision to remove Marcos from the term ‘Diktadurang Marcos’ is a clear revision of history and an insult to the countless victims of human rights abuses and atrocities committed during the martial law period,” Castro said.

“This is a clear violation of Republic Act 10368 or Marcos Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 and the DepEd should know this,” Castro emphasized.

The teacher turned lawmaker said that she believes that it is the duty of teachers to teach the truth to the younger generation.

She said that by removing “Marcos” from the term, the nation is denying students the opportunity to fully understand the historical context and the impact of martial law on our nation.

“This decision is a disservice to their education and a disservice to the pursuit of historical truth,” she stressed.

“Just because the current president is the son of the Dictator Marcos doesn’t mean that we should erase his family’s name from the proper term for name for the dictatorship,” she added.

(by Dang Samson Garcia)

ACT TEACHERS Party-list Representative France Castro expressed deep concern over the big decrease in the number of enrollees for School Year 2023-2024.

“It is truly disheartening to see that instead of an increase in the number of students as we transition back to normalcy, we are witnessing a drastic drop of over three million enrollees,” Castro said.

Historically, student enrollment in the Philippines has been increasing by 2 percent every year.

The decline in enrollment occurred only during the SY 2020-2021 due to the pandemic, but it showed signs of recovery in the next school year.

“As it is, the Philippine education system not only faces the challenge of learning loss but also the loss of three million learners. We must delve into the causes of this issue and conduct a thorough investigation,” Castro said.

The lawmaker urged the Department of Education to prioritize addressing the barriers that hinder students from enrolling, such as lack of access to technology, economic constraints, and safety concerns.

She also asked DepEd to collaborate with other government agencies, local government units, and educational institutions in the implementation of effective strategies that will encourage parents and guardians to enroll their children.

“We cannot afford to allow this trend to continue. The government must take immediate action to ensure that every Filipino child has equal access to quality education,” the lawmaker added.