As the year-one report of the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM II) revealed the extent of issues in public school textbook procurement, Senator Win Gatchalian emphasized the need for the Department of Education (DepEd) to streamline its processes and ensure that all learners have books.
In the report titled Miseducation: The Failed System of Philippine Education, the EDCOM II pointed out that since 2012, only 27 textbooks for Kindergarten to Grade 10 have been procured. The report also revealed that from 2018 to 2022, P12.6 billion has been allocated for textbooks and other instructional materials, 35.3% (P4.5 billion) of which was obligated and 7.5% (P952 million) was disbursed. The EDCOM further revealed that since the K to 12 curriculum was introduced, only textbooks for Grades 5 and 6 were successfully procured.
Citing consultations with the National Book Development Board (NBDB) and private publishers, the EDCOM also pointed out that insufficient development time and a prolonged review process are among the bottlenecks of textbook procurement.
While the NBDB said that the development of textbooks usually takes 18 months, the DepEd gives only six months for the textbook call, which pushes publishers to submit premade drafts with minor revisions to match DepEd requirements. This results in a prolonged revision and editing process. The DepEd also lacks dedicated staff for reviewing textbooks, while publishers said they receive conflicting comments from different reviewers.
Gatchalian, Co-Chairperson of EDCOM II, previously urged the DepEd to consider the pre-selection of textbooks like private schools do, adding that the government should aspire to give books to all learners.
The EDCOM’s findings align with results of the 2019 Southeast Asian Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM), which showed that at least one out of five Grade 5 learners shared textbooks with another student or more.
“Ang edukasyon ng ating mga kabataan ang napapabayaan kung patuloy ang mga suliranin sa pagkakaroon ng sapat at dekalidad na mga textbooks,” said Gatchalian.
The senator also plans to seek an oversight review on the Book Publishing Industry Development Act (Republic Act No. 8047) to assess whether the country’s publishing industry is keeping up with rapid digitalization.