Press Release
August 10, 2019

On 'Wow Mali' books, delivery delays in rooms, computers

It's time for DepEd to do its homework in textbook procurement and finally end the problem of "Wow Mali" textbooks and those that do not last long because they are printed on papel de lambot.

Graver, however, than the problem of error-filled books is the delay in their delivery. They number in the millions annually. Last year, of the 38.6 million target number of books, only 11.2 million were bought and delivered. This translates into a dismal 31 percent failing grade.

Nothing cripples a school system and crushes a child's desire to learn more than the lack of books. Books are the sources of intellectual nourishment. Schools without textbooks are like restaurants without food.

I know that Secretary Liling is enraged as well and the strict professor whose dedication to work and love for education are unquestionable will never tolerate this continuing debacle.

One in five Filipinos - 22.6 million learners plus 890,000 teachers and non-academic personnel spread over 47,025 schools from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi, are DepEd's direct constituents.

An organization as huge as this, which if it were a country would have four times more people than Singapore, requires material resources that must be constantly replenished.

DepEd has no choice but to hire procurement, logistics and supply chain experts who will cut through the red tape and run a system which will ensure that books and the other contents of its annual shopping cart of education materials, equipment and facilities reach end-users on time.

This, plus other measures, will help it improve its report card of deliverables, which, based on the latest COA audit, is marred by across-the-board failures from computers to classrooms to science and vocational equipment.

If bread vendors, gin makers, soap manufacturers can stock 1 million sari-sari stores efficiently - many on a once a week basis and not once a year in the case of our schools - then supplying 47,025 points of delivery in the DepEd universe is doable.

It is also time, and this would involve the whole of government, to study the possibility of using a multiyear framework in addressing the needs of our schools to give us all a longer planning and funding horizon.

At a 4 percent annual enrolment growth rate, the 900,000 additional students would require the hiring of 22,500 teachers, the construction of 22,500 classrooms, the purchase of 900,000 seats, and about 7.2 million textbooks. This is a predictable expense that doesn't require algorithm to compute. If this can be anticipated, so must the resources it entails. For this, a national lesson plan to guide us forward would certainly help.

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