MANILA (UPDATE) — There is a need to “rethink” the learning materials used in schools so they would focus on teaching students “the basics” and prepare them for “better jobs”, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. said Thursday in his inaugural address.
“What we teach in our schools, the materials used must be rethought. I am not talking about history,” Marcos said, apparently addressing critics’ fears that his presidency would lead to the whitewashing of his father’s martial law rule in history books.
“I am talking about the basics, the sciences, sharpening theoretical aptitude and imparting vocational skills,” he added.
Marcos’ sister, Sen. Imee, earlier said their family had no plans of revising history, rather only to “make public what we know [is] our side of the story.”
In his first speech as the country's 17th President, Marcos said “there is hope for a comeback” of an “education system that prepared coming generations for more and better jobs,” adding that Vice President and incoming Education Secretary Sara Duterte “will fit that mission to a tee.”
Earlier this month, Duterte said Marcos sought for a review of the K-12 program, a move welcomed by lawmakers and advocates who have long raised concerns of a “learning crisis” said to be plaguing the country’s education system.
Advocates said the learning crisis was made apparent by Filipino students’ poor learning outcomes and performance in international assessments. It was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic as schools were shuttered and shifted to a less effective remote learning setup, they added.
ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro said she hopes Marcos would fulfill the “pretty promises” made in his inaugural address.
“Nabudol na kasi tayo [nang] ilang beses na. Mahirap na maulit pa,” she said in a statement.
(We’ve been fooled with these promises several times now. It’s hard if we fall for it again.)
Castro, who agrees that the K-12 program should undergo a review, also called on the Marcos administration to “listen to the demands of teachers and significantly increase their salaries.”
Meanwhile, the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) reminded Marcos to fulfill the promises he made to the education sector during the campaign period, which includes raising teachers’ salaries and relieving them of administrative tasks.
“Our teachers will actively push for education reforms and will engage the Marcos administration. Through our collective strength and effort, we will work for the realization of Marcos’ campaign promises as well as other issues that seem to have been overlooked by previous administrations,” TDC National Chairperson Benjo Basas said in a statement.
The group also reiterated its 13-point agenda for the Marcos administration, which include upgrading the entry-level salaries of public school teachers to at least Salary Grade 15, providing financial assistance to education workers who have contracted COVID-19, reducing class sizes, ensuring a 1:1 text book to student ratio, and strengthening the study of Philippine history and literature, among others.