Vice President-elect Sara Duterte (MNS Photo)

MANILA, June 21 (Mabuhay) –Vice President-elect Sara Duterte will be facing difficult challenges as the next Education secretary as 90% of Filipino students aged 10 cannot read, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Monday.

“Vice President-elect Sara Duterte faces a very serious, difficult challenge in the education sector. Why? Ninety percent of our children aged 10 would not know how to read,” Drilon said.

“Can you imagine what kind of manpower we will have in 10 years’ time when these kids will be manning our service sector, our industrial sector,  etcetera?” he asked.

In an earlier statement, Drilon enumerated four “most pressing issues” that the incoming administration of President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. should prioritize.

One of the issues is the poor state of the education system in the Philippines, which was “made even worse by the pandemic,” Drilon said.

He earlier cited a report released by the World Bank which showed that nine out of 10 kids aged 10 in the country cannot read. Drilon had said that the government must craft a roadmap as its effect would be long-term if the problems facing the educational system are not addressed immediately.

According to Drilon, this “alarming” situation in the education sector was caused by the government’s “mismanagement.”

“One thing is alarming in the education sector when 90 percent of our children 10 years old is not able to read,” he said.

“This resulted out of the mismanagement of our education sector. So I would like to think that Vice President Sara Duterte realizes the enormity of the problem faced by our education sector,” he added.

Earlier in the day, the incoming vice president disclosed that she was instructed by Marcos to review the Department of Education’s implementation of the K to 12 curriculum.

The K to 12 program was pushed under the administration of late former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. This was part of his 10-point proposal for fixing the Philippines’ basic education system.

The new curriculum mandated Filipino students to undergo one year in kindergarten, six years in primary school, four years in junior high school and two years in senior high school.

Asked to comment on Marcos’ latest instruction to Duterte, Drilon, a longtime ally of the Aquinos, said the 18th Congress has recently passed a resolution creating the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM II), which will be tasked to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the education system.

“That EDCOM II will look at the problems of the education sector. We have the private sector who will be actively involved there and I would strongly suggest, if Vice President-elect Duterte will consider, that the Executive Department… participates substantially in this process,” Drilon said.

“I would strongly suggest that the DepEd and the leadership of Vice President Duterte should take an active hand in the formulation of plans that will be proposed as a result of the education commission created by Congress,” he added.

Asked if history, which tackles the Marcos era, must also be prioritized in the evaluation of the educational system, Drilon said that should be part of the review.

Apart from this, Drilon said the government must also give priority to the budget of the education sector, as well as the health sector.

Duterte earlier said she would look into three issues as Education chief including the effects of the pandemic on learners, the full implementation of face-to-face classes, and a thorough discussion on the K to 12 program.

Some Filipinos have already expressed their desires for the direction Duterte will take as the next DepEd Secretary. Some asked Duterte to stop the K to 12 program while others said there should be no erasure of history.

Duterte said she is willing to have dialogues and consultations with teachers and parents’ groups to tackle the country’s education system.(MNS)

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