MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) is looking forward to a textbook-free education.
But the cost will be high but nonetheless this represents a substantial reform as the Philippines moves into a more information technology (IT)-based education mode, DepEd officials said.
In a hearing by a Senate finance sub-committee chaired by Sen. Edgardo J. Angara, DepEd Secretary Armin F. Luistro said he recently met with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) officials on this issue where they (USAID officials) agreed to finance a study on a possible textbook-free Philippine education setting.
Luistro said DepEd Undersecretary Francis Varela would sit down with the UISAID to map out strategies in implementing the textbook-free education system.
He hinted that this system might begin in the next two years as the DepEd budget has a substantial IT budget.
Before Luisto revealed the DepEd-USAID meeting on a textbook-free education, Angara mentioned a possible shift from textbooks to a computer-based education after DepEd officials told Angara that their textbook budget for next year is P3.65 billion.
“It is not too early to study such technology,” Angara, a former University of the Philippines (UP) president, told Luistro.
Angara pushed for this radical shift in education as the cost of computers in the international market is decreasing with price tags ranging from $100 per computer in the US to $37 per computer in India.
The former Senate president said that the modernization of Philippine education requires a powerful political will as it takes time to repair the damaged or deteriorating education standards and facilities.
He rued that the country is losing its bright students to call centers and other professions because of perceptions that teaching is no longer a dignified profession.
He bitterly conceded complaints by teachers that their profession has become “a vow of poverty.’’
The current DepEd budget of P170.74 billion has been increased to P207.05 billion for 2011 or an increase of 18 percent.
The Constitution states that the budget for education should get the lion’s share among the various departments in government.
The proposed 2011 DepEd budget summary stated that the Ulat ng Bayan survey conducted in Feb. 2009 labeled DepEd as “the least corrupt government agency,’’ the highest public approval rating.
As of December 2009 5,296 out of the 6,650 high schools are already provided with computer laboratories.
The DepEd has also started its goal of promoting ICT in the elementary level with 2,534 elementary schools are targeted to be given multi-media equipment.
“Moreover, curriculum enhancement through ICT is being highly promoted by the department to give students a good place in the world of technology, in partnership with different stakeholders from the private sector and non-government organizations,” the summary stated.
Mario Casayuran, Manila Bulletin