Manila, Philippines --- Are textbooks in public schools already "obsolete"?
Public school teachers said yesterday aside from the late delivery of learning packages especially for Grades 2 and 8 students as part of the implementation of the K-to-12 Program this year, most of the textbooks currently available for students might be "obsolete."
While the Department of Education (DepEd) maintained that the textbook shortage in the country's public school system has been fully addressed since 2012, the Teacher's Dignity Coalition (TDC) maintained that in subject areas like Filipino for instance, "there is no provision of books for a decade now" while the other textbooks are already considered "obsolete."
TDC, a 30,000-strong group, said the lack of textbooks in certain subjects, the "outdated" information in most government-issued books, and the delay in delivery of learning resources for the new curriculum indicate a "bleak future of the K-to-12."
With the implementation of the K-to-12, Grade 2 and 8 teachers are expected to rely on learning packages which consist of Curriculum Guides (CGs), Teacher's Guides (TGs) and Learner's Materials (LMs) in line with the new curriculum.
However, since the classes started in June 3, the learning packages-especially the LMs that should be used by students-have not yet been distributed. "The distribution of learning materials to respective schools should have been finished before the school year opens, because we are now in the third year of implementing K-to-12," said TDC National Chaiperson Benjo Basas.
This school year, Grades 2 and 8 teachers and students were given the same predicament experienced by those in the Grades 1 and 7 when the new curricula were implemented last year. "The DepEd earlier said it would soon deliver the learning packages to students and teachers as alternative to textbooks, but until now, there are still no learning materials," Basas said.
Earlier, TDC Secretary General Emmalyn Policarpio also claimed that some government textbooks are "obsolete" which, she said, forces "teachers to produce their own reading materials for their students."
Linda Jalandoni, a Grade 8 Science teacher in Bagong Barrio National High School in Caloocan City, could not agree more.
For 13 years, Jalandoni has been teaching in public schools. "Personally, I like the new curriculum. However, this should be supplemented with enough learning resources to be implemented effectively," she said.
This school year, she handles around 50 students in one class and is forced to copy the content of the LMs in a manila paper so her students can learn in line with the new curriculum for Grade 8. "It's very hard because it's an additional burden, but we have no choice since we [teachers] are expected to be resourceful and creative," she said.
Jalandoni said the new learning materials are very crucial since most textbooks, especially in the subject she teaches, can be considered "obsolete."
"We're now using spiral approach which means Science subjects in all levels are integrated," she said. Unlike before when every year level is focused on a specific field of Science like Earth Science (first year), Biology (second year), Chemistry (third year) and Physics (fourth), Grade 7 and 8 students are now expected to learn all subjects at the same time.
Science subject, in the new curriculum for Grade 8 as per K to 12 curriculum, will be composed of Physics (First Grading), Earth and Space (Second Grading), Chemistry (Third Grading) and Biology (fourth year.) "If we rely on the textbooks available now, we can only use Biology concepts since it is designed for second year students," Jalandoni said. "But since we now follow the new curriculum, topics in Biology would only be discussed in the fourth grading which means if we don't have the LMs, we also don't have learning resources for the first until third grading," she said.
Jalandoni said she considers herself "lucky" since she already took up her Masters Degree in General Science. Despite the training given by DepEd, she said other teachers might still have difficulty with the new curriculum especially those who majored in specific Sciences. "For example, teachers who majored in Biology when they were in college might not quite familiar with other Science concepts like Chemistry, Physics or Earth Science so they have to study again since they will have to teach these other concepts as well," she explained.
DepEd Assistant Secretary for Planning Jesus Mateo, on the other hand, said textbooks being used in public schools remain updated. "Hindi naman siguro [obsolete] kasi sa mga textbooks, may tinatawag tayong five-year shelf life pero siyempre, depende ito sa ginagamit sa iba't-ibang grade or year level," he said.
While he admitted that delivery of new learning resourcesfor Grades 2 and 8 remain delayed. "Habang wala pa, ang mga teachers ay pwede pa din mag-rely sa ating mga textbooks dahil ang mga learning materials ay additional lang naman," he ended. When it comes to teacher's training, Mateo assured that "it will be on-going for the entire year to so they will be more familiar with the new curriculum."