With no 'education background,' Duterte admits relying on DepEd experts for curriculum update

Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2023 09:21 PM | Updated as of Aug 11 2023 12:44 AM

Maria Tan ABS-CBN News/File
Philippine Vice-President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte speaks during a press conference at the Marikina Sports Center on July 21, 2023, ahead of the 2023 Palarong Pambansa. Maria Tan ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA (UPDATED)— Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte admitted Thursday during the launching of the adjusted K to 10 curriculum that she could not personally review the revisions due to her lack of “education background." 

In her speech at the event in Pasay City, she narrated how she caused stress to one of DepEd’s officials, Undersecretary Gina Gonong, who is the head of the Curriculum and Teaching Division of the department.

“Para na akong sirang plaka sa Curriculum at Teaching [division], iyong tanong ko paulit-ulit na hanggang sa tumaas na ang blood pressure ni Usec Gina Gonong,” she said, earning laughter from the crowd.

“This was last week ano. At one point, medyo kinabahan na ako kasi baka ma-stroke kasi she was really saying na ‘okay na iyan, nireview namin iyan, inulit namin iyan,’” Duterte added.

“I think I caused her too much emotional stress. It is all good? You had your check-up ano,” she asked Usec. Gonong, to which the latter answered in the affirmative.

The Education secretary added that she wanted to make sure that the adjusted K to 10 curriculum, which DepEd dubbed as “Matatag Curriculum," is comparable to what is being used in countries that have sound education systems.

“Sabi ko, ang gusto ko kasi hindi Pilipino, ang gusto ko kapag sinabing ‘Matatag Curriculum,' kapag nag benchmark ka at tumingin ka sa ibang bansa, pareho. Kung ano ang natututunan ng mga magagaling na ibang bansa sa edukasyon, ganoon din ang natututunan ng ating mga learners. Paulit-ulit iyan,” she said.

”I felt guilty kasi alam ko na isa ako sa nag-cause ng stress sa kanya, because I do not come from the education sector, I don't have an education background so I cannot review what they are doing,” she added

“I rely on their expertise and all the stakeholders who did the review,” Duterte also said.

Her part, she said, was to make sure that the people were doing their assigned work for the curriculum.

“So ang magawa ko lang, which I do very well admittedly, ay magpukpok talaga ng tao to drive a person to do what they are supposed to do,” she said.

“So nagpapasalamat po ako sa personnel ng Curriculum and Teaching ng DepEd and, of course, we are truly thankful for the external stakeholders who gave their all out support to this Matatag Curriculum,” she stressed.

She also noted that she is among the only three Education Ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that do not have “education background," along with the ministers of Singapore and Malaysia.

DepEd said that with the new curriculum that will be taught to kindergarten to Grade 10, issues in the current curriculum, including the congestion of content, “misplaced prerequisites” and “imbalance of cognitive demand” would be addressed.

It will be piloted this upcoming school year in selected grade levels and schools that DepEd is yet to identify.

Formal implementation will be done by phases beginning school year 2024 to 2025 until 2028.