Wednesday ∗ 02 Feb 2011

dear Dep Ed, on EFA and another additional year

early in the week, on one of those hectic mornings that I keep the TV on to Sapul sa 5 for company, I heard your plans for instituting public kindergarten as part of our educational system, and I could only tweet about it as violently as I could.

though of course in the midst of the violence in Egypt then (now turned into a version of people power eh?), and the fare hike, this was barely carried by the rest of the day’s news.

but I feel it needs to be said: it is stupid. and I say that with all due and possible respect to Bro. Armin Luistro. I imagine many others want to say it too, but will not for fear of the heavens. I have no such fear.

what I fear is that all the money that’s been allocated for education (wow, P207 BILLION PESOS!), something that the Dep Ed is so proud about, will go to nothing but a false sense of what ails the educational system. there are real problems of teaching teachers, changing the curriculum, improving learning attitudes in students, that the plan of the K-12 program fails to problematize.

given that, institutionalizing kindergarten is just unfair if not unjust, and ultimately heartless. just heartless.

it means a 13-year educational cycle yes? it means creating the need for extra classrooms, extra skills, extra money from teachers. and there is no point in saying that it will be free — because public education is free! — when anyone who’s talked to a parent who sends a child to public school will tell you that they spend, more than they can afford. and when that money runs out, when there’s no money other than for putting food on the table, education rightfully becomes a non-priority.

and here lies the problem with institutionalizing kindergarten for our poor: it begins the cycle of spending earlier, it creates a need that isn’t there at all.

because who truly goes to pre-school in this country other than the middle to upper classes? and they do because their families can afford it, because there is a pre-school industry that has burgeoned in the recent past. this is not to look down of pre-schools, but it is to say this: in many ways and many places (like Tiaong Quezon) it is nothing but a way of making money, preying on parents who are made to think their kids need it, that it is imperative to their growth and learning. these are the same spaces that have pre-school teachers with questionable capabilities, the ones who are un-learned in that particular area of expertise that is pre-school education.

In light of this, I want to know who Dep Ed imagines will be teaching public kindergarten. in the real and credible pre-schools, teachers studied to teach on this level, having gone through courses in child psychology and education, and are adept at handling children. what I can imagine is that Dep Ed’s getting existing teachers to teach additional classes for the younger students, forgetting that teaching pre-school is a very particular specialized skill. no one will get me to do it even with my years of teaching and my love for children.

it also seems like 10 steps back in pre-school education. instituting kindergarten in our public schools when it is being questioned, and when the notions of home schooling for the middle and upper classes is becoming more and more viable and logical: it keeps parents responsible for their children’s formative years, and if that means showing poor children how difficult life is in this third world context, then so be it.

meanwhile, Dep Ed’s overactive imagination allows them to piece two and two together –kindergarten and two more years to the education system — and see that it will fix our educational problems. that they even think this is the first step instead of curriculum revision, teacher seminars, wage hike for teachers, extra classrooms, better textbooks is beyond me. that they haven’t even called on volunteers from the industry to help out is proof of its refusal to change its policies, to revise it given other perspectives.

because really. tell me that i can teach in the public school closest to my house, and i will. tell me to teach teachers and i will come up with a plan. tell me to write a textbook and i will. on minimum pay, on practically volunteerism, and i will do it. as so many others will, i tell you. as so many others are willing to.

but you need to include us, you need to include the members of this nation, the ones who have taught for years, the ones who are willing to learn. Dep Ed has fantastic imagination as it is, but maybe what it lacks is creativity. along with some good sense about the educational system of decades past, what ails this, what will truly and really fix it.

creativity would also allow them to create a plan that isn’t about adding more years to the problematic 10 that’s already there, but about fundamentally changing from within, because they know what is wrong from within.

give us a plan Dep Ed, show us a plan that will allow us to help out, and feel like we’re part of the change this administration promises. additional years are stupid. even more so kindergarten. it’s a plan that’s doomed to fail. and one that no intelligent teacher will be for, will want to help out.

and pray tell, how will additional years mean fulfilling the goal of Education For All (EFA)? it will only mean more impoverished families giving up on education, because it takes longer to finish it now, which means it will cost more. and yes, this will only bring us to that vicious cycle of arguments about “but public education is free!” that only the naive would think to say.

EFA is the goal? well, at this point, EFAk naman Dep Ed.

Posted in: akademya, aktibismo, bayan, gobyerno, kapitalista, komentaryo, pulitika

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