I DID not get to see President Arroyo's 7th State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday afternoon, as we were at the Madrigal Center amphitheater at the Ateneo de Naga University for the book launch of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance's (CenPEG) Oligarchic Politics.
(If you want an idea of what the book is all about, this review by Bulatlat.com is quite helpful.)
So, I relied on the SONA's transcript which is available at the Inquirer website and looked for areas closest to my heart. The following items on education made me wince:
Second, investments in a stronger and wider social safety net -- murang gamot, abot-kayang pabahay, eskwelang primera klase, mga gurong mas magaling at mas malaki ang kita, mga librong de-kalidad, more scholarships for gifted students, and language instruction to maintain our lead in English proficiency. Dunong at kalusugan ang susi sa kasaganaan...OK, I will grant that the Arroyo administration is spending more on education, but there is no guarantee that we are getting the bang from the buck. Exhibit "A" would be teacher recruitment and hiring, one of my pet peeves with the Department of Education.
And for teachers, we have created more than 50,000 teaching positions....(Italics mine)
The new policy of the Lapus administration in regard to teacher hiring is a virtual accommodation to politicians, particularly members of the House of Representatives where he came from.
Today, all an applicant needs to do is meet the 50% minimum rating (Sec. 2.3), sending him to the so-called Registry of Qualified Applicants (RQA). Once in the RQA, the rating becomes irrelevant: one who got 90% is just as good as another who squeaked in by getting the minimum 50%.
The decision to hire now rests on the school head, who will recommend to the division superintendent whom to take in, guided primarily by the Localization Law. This is where subjectivity comes in.
This policy reverses the efforts made by the team of former Education Secretary Florencio Abad to improve the quality of hiring. In the previous policy affirmed by Undersecretary Fe Hidalgo -- GMA's favorite -- applicants were classified under four registries: (A) for those who scored 60 and above; (B) for those who scored 50-59; (C) for those who scored 40-49; and (D) for those who scored 39 and below.
Section 6.7 provides:
When all of those in Registry A have been appointed and assigned to their respective stations and there are still positions to be filled, those in Registry B shall be considered before going to Registry C and D, in that order.Also, in the previous policy, localization is only resorted to as a last resort, caeteris paribus or all things being equal as my economics professor would say. Today, it is being conveniently used to justify placement of inferior but favored applicants.
And why do I know this is the case? Because in our last School Board meeting, I saw some school heads vigorously justifying this retrogressive policy in trying to convince Mayor Robredo to adopt it in regard to locally funded teachers. Fortunately, the mayor put his foot down and torpedoed the idea. Ironically, in that meeting, it was the local government that was insisting that DepEd follow its ranking strictly, when it should be the other way around!
"Mga gurong mas magaling"? Better ask Secretary Lapus if that indeed is the case, madam president.