National

COA report: P254M went to 'error-filled' DepEd books

COA report: P254M went to 'error-filled' DepEd books

Besides examining the books of the education department, state auditors have become grammar cops and fact checkers of its instructional materials.

The Commission on Audit (COA) said learning materials of the Department of Education (DepEd) worth P254.253 million for Grade 3 pupils were riddled with errors despite the department’s three-step review process.

The materials include those for araling panlipunan, science and English, the COA said in its 2018 audit report.

“The existence of error-filled learning materials is an indication that the meticulous checking, review and evaluation processes of the manuscripts were not undertaken by the concerned bureaus before [their] mass production,” it said.

In the report, the COA also said it found that the DepEd had “an alarming number” of undistributed instructional materials worth P113.708 million.

These instructional materials were procured as buffer stock from 2014 up to 2017, but as of 2018, some 3.4 million copies intended for public schools nationwide remained unused and idle in five DepEd warehouses.

1,308 errors

Citing Calipjo Go’s letter to the editor in the Inquirer in 2018, the COA said the Grade 3 “Araling Panlipunan Learner’s Material,” written by Manalo, Capunitan, Galarosa and Sampang, had a staggering 1,308 errors.

The audit body said that the 363-page Grade 3 “English Learner’s Material,” written by 15 authors, contained 430 errors.

The 185-page Grade 3 “Science Learner’s Material,” which was written in Filipino, was found to have  317 errors, an average of 1.7 errors per page.

Archipelago, not island

In a review of the specific errors, the COA said the araling panlipunan learning material referred to the Philippines as a “pulo” or island. The Philippines is not an island, but rather an archipelago made up of more than 7,000 islands.

The same textbook also said that the Philippines rested “on top” (nakatungtong) of the Pacific Ring of Fire, when it should have stated that the country was inside (nakapaloob) the Pacific Ring of Fire.

It claimed that the provinces of Bataan, Aurora and Zambales were surrounded on all sides by the sea, but the COA refuted that, saying neither Aurora nor Zambales was an island.

Mercury, not water

The science learning material referred to the liquid in a thermometer as water (tubig).

Former Education Secretary Armin Luistro had approved the P254.253-million contract for the materials, which were delivered between 2015 and 2016, according to the audit body.

Aside from errors, state auditors pointed out that the materials had wrongly used words, and also grammatical and factual mistakes.

The COA said it had spoken to teachers in public elementary schools “to evaluate the impact of these errors and deficiencies [on] educators and learners.”

Repetitive, confusing

In personal interviews, the teachers said the topics of the learning materials were “repetitive and the sequencing of topics is confusing for the teachers and learners.”

They added that the topics were not in line with the curriculum guide.

Due to the poor quality of the learning materials, teachers have opted to use older reference textbooks that were in accordance with the previous curriculum, according to the COA.

Moreover, the educators used supplemental resources, such as books from private schools and internet-sourced materials.

“To their mind, the poor quality and the confusing sequencing of the topics are indicative that there were several writers who coauthored the materials without proper coordination and review process,” the COA said.

Correct errors

The audit body immediately ordered the DepEd to  evaluate the errors in the learning materials and to act immediately to correct those currently circulating in public schools as the main reference for learners and teachers.

It also directed the department to “improve and strengthen” the process of review, scrutiny and evaluation of instructional materials before publication and distribution to students to ensure the adoption of error-free instructional materials.

For its part, the DepEd said its Office of Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction’s Bureau of Learning Resources had since conducted a series of workshops on the development of handbooks on learning resource processes, which included quality assurance.

Idle supplies

Among the unused materials are textbooks and teachers’ manuals, copies of books and learning materials that can be used to replace those lost or damaged and to provide new students with learning materials in case enrollment increases or new schools are established.

But the COA said the DepEd had procured too many materials that it failed to use.

It noted that since 2014, only 23 percent of the total number of materials delivered to the DepEd had been distributed.

“The audit team has given emphasis in reiterating the observations and recommendations in previous years and may consider these procured and undistributed/unutilized buffer stocks as wastage of government resources,” the COA said.

Fire hazards

The COA said the warehouses were maintained poorly and that the buffer stock was not properly arranged due to lack of storage plan and equipment for handling materials.

“These are not well maintained, dirty, and full of dust and spider webs. The warehouses are not well ventilated due to the absence of exhaust fans or insulation materials that will prevent fire,” the report said.

It said the warehouses “were not properly lighted since the power supply/electricity was cut off for nonpayment of electric bill. The ceilings and windows are dilapidated and provision for security mechanism is inadequate.”

The audit agency directed the education department to explain the large number of learning materials that remained undistributed and stored in the five warehouses, or risk receiving a notice of disallowance.

It told the DepEd to revisit its existing guidelines on the procurement of instructional materials.

In its reply to the COA, the DepEd agreed to do so and promised to evaluate the controls on buffer stock.