While the controversial Corona impeachment trial went on with little to no observable progress, the Department of Education had come up with a controversy of its own; albeit inconspicuous to Filipinos whose attentions are glued to PNoyâ€™s holy crusade to allegedly bring Arroyo and her lackeys to justice. Manila Bulletin reported the following last January 24, 2012:
â€œThe Department of Education (DepEd) has decided to drop â€œScienceâ€ from the roster of subjects taken up by incoming Grade 1 pupils in line with its efforts to decongest the Basic Education Curriculum and to make learning more enjoyable to young learners.â€
Moreover, Education Secretary Armin Luistro argues that such steps were taken in accordance with the K+12 curriculum, â€œbased on the idea that we should be taking the students where they are.â€
Luistro attempted to give DepEdâ€™s drastic measure some merit by insisting that Science concepts will be integrated in first gradersâ€™ subjects anyway, although they will no longer have an actual science subject. According to the article, the subjects for first graders under the new K+12 curriculum would be:
â€œ…Mother Tongue, Filipino, Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao, Music, Art, Physical Education and Health (MAPEH), Mathematics, Araling Panlipunan, and English â€“ which will be taught in the second semester and will mainly focus on oral fluency.â€
Finally, it has been stated that the Science subject will instead be introduced in the third grade, while Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan and Technology and Livelihood Education will be taken up fourth and sixth grade, respectively.
(To read the actual article, visit this link.)
Indeed, it is quite harrowing to visualize the morbid picture of our current educational system. With the intention of making learning â€œmore enjoyable to students,â€ DepEd had the audacity to actually remove one of the core fields of knowledge in a childâ€™s primary education. Another unsettling thing in this blunder of DepEd is the sheer ambiguity of the provisions of the K+12 curriculum regarding the removal of the Science subject. Luistro maintains that while Science will cease to be an actual subject for first graders, science concepts will be introduced in their remaining subjects.
Does Luistro realize the chaotic implications of his statement? First and foremost, what exactly are the parameters in implementing this policy? To what extent should these â€œconceptsâ€ be integrated in the other subjects? How often should they be integrated? What is the scope of the concepts to be integrated? The fact that Luistro didnâ€™t even allude to such important factors makes this atrocious move of DepEdâ€™s even less credible.
Whatâ€™s even more worrying is how first-grade students will receive such pandemonium. What if youâ€™re discussing Philippine history, when suddenly the teacher sidetracks the lesson to scientific concepts? The bigger problem is that, since the students do not have a solid background on science, discussions will be filled with confusion on what the teacher is actually talking about, and why he or she is talking about it in the first place. Have Luistro and the Department even given these implications a single thought, before recklessly twisting our educational system?
Another ambiguity demonstrated by Luistro is the Departmentâ€™s intention in abolishing Science as part of the curriculum for first-graders. What exactly did he mean by â€œtaking the students where they are?â€ Where exactly are they, and in what terms? For something as crucial as education, Luistroâ€™s vagueness in his justifications hardly gave DepEdâ€™s decision any credence.
Given the facts laid in front of us, it is right, necessary even, to infer from what we have gathered regarding this issue. Just what is DepEd planning to do? On the top of my head, I can think of at least three major possibilities:
1. That DepEd is really just after the studentâ€™s enjoyment in school, like what Luistro asserted. But what makes this goal unsavoury is that a solid ground in basic scientific knowledge is being sacrificed for the sake of â€œenjoyment.â€ This is a false dichotomy; maximizing a studentâ€™s enjoyment in learning does not necessitate removing a cornerstone of basic knowledge. It necessitates proper teaching and its maintenance. To ignore this will betray DepEdâ€™s laziness to set things right, and instead will go for the easy way and outright abolish the subject, in the guise of â€œmaking learning more fun for students.â€
2. That DepEd is starting its own nationalism campaign. You will notice that in place of Science, Mother Tongue has been listed as one of the subjects for the first-grade level, with Filipino as a separate subject. Wonâ€™t this make learning Filipino superfluous? I do not have issues with aiming to enlighten the youth in the Filipino language and culture, but is this cause worthy enough to set aside a subject that helped civilization throughout the course of its existence? Does DepEd prioritize nationalism over science? Should this be the actual objective of DepEd, we just might have a case of misplaced priorities here.
3. That DepEd might be on a dumbing-down campaign. From the K+12 curriculum that punishes families while doing nothing substantial about the deteriorating quality of education in the Philippines, now we have the abolition of Science as a subject. Is DepEd deliberately making decent education increasingly inaccessible to the average Juan? This supposition might border on conspiracy theory, but, given the circumstances, we cannot dismiss the possibility, or even the probability of this idea. Is the government pursuing the gradual â€œdumbing downâ€ of the masses for some ulterior motive?
For the time being, our speculations will remain as plain speculations. However, this one thing is true; Philippine education is slowly going down the drain. This fact is reason enough for us to call for a close scrutiny of what has become of our society, its root causes, and what can be done to resolve such issues. Problems like education transcend the trivialities churned out by mainstream media, ranging from Kris Aquinoâ€™s drivel to PNoyâ€™s uninteresting love life.