16 October 2006

A different 'color coding'

IN THE question-and-answer portion that followed my talk on our School Board project, someone from Leyte asked me whether we practise "color coding" in hiring teachers funded out of the Special Education Fund (SEF). (Sec. 235, Local Government Code of 1991)

The event was a UNICEF-funded training on promoting child-friendly governance for DILG municipal operations officers in the Visayas, which was held at the West Gorordo Hotel in Cebu City.

Unsure of what "color coding"meant, because in Naga trimobiles are color coded according to the zones within which they are authorized to operate, I asked the guy precisely what he meant.

He said
"color coding" refers to the classification of teacher applicants as to whether they are pro-administration ("Lakas NUCD" was the term he used), opposition ("KBL") or non-aligned. I said the practice is not unheard of in the past, the mayor also being a politician. But when we realized we are not attracting the best teachers available in the city, one of the changes we introduced was to strictly hew to the ranking of teachers, using criteria coming from existing DepEd memos. And engaging in the same practice does not give us the moral ascendancy to ask DepEd to do the same.

For surely, it cost us some political points among the disaffected, but they are more than compensated by the assurance that our teachers are being hired on the basis of merit, not patronage.

This new addition to my DepEd lexicon reminded of of
"wrongking," a derisive term used in Northern Luzon, which refers to the same practice; and "puting kabayo," which is how political patrons are referred to locally.