MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) has come out with a 21-page “Errata Guide” to correct glaring factual, grammatical and other errors in 11 social studies textbooks and teachers’ manuals issued earlier to 43,000 public elementary schools nationwide.
Some 70,000 copies of the guide were printed and delivered to 188 DepEd divisions, the cost of which was paid for by three textbook suppliers — LG & M Corp., Vibal Publishing House and Mary Jo Publishing House.
The three were the publishers of the textbooks found to contain all the errors, said Daisy Santos, head of the DepEd’s Instructional Materials Council Secretariat (IMCS).
The IMCS is the agency that selects and prescribes textbooks and supplementary materials that are used in all public elementary and secondary schools.
The 11 textbooks reviewed by a panel of DepEd teachers and supervisors were found to have a total of 269 errors.
In one textbook alone, “Ang Bagong Pilipino 3,” published in 2006 by the Mary Jo Publishing House, at least 77 errors were found.
“Makabayan: Katangiang Pilipino 2”, published by LG & M, was found to have 48 errors.
Various errors were also found in four other LG & M publications: Makabayan: Kasaysayang Pilipino 5 (43 errors), Makabayan: KP5 teachers’ manual (3 errors), Makabayan: Kapaligirang Pilipino 4 (32 errors) and Makabayan: KP4 teachers’ manual (2 errors).
Five Vibal publications contained many errors: Masipag na Pilipino 3 (31), MP3 teachers’ manual (3), Matapat na Pilipino 1 (18), Marangal na Pilipino 5 (11) and MP5 teachers’ manual (1).
Depending on the gravity of the errors that may be found in their products, other textbook publishers may also be required to publish similar errata guides in the future, the DepEd said.
The issuance of the errata guide is one of several “stringent measures” that the DepEd has adopted to eliminate errors in textbook content, according to Education Secretary Jesli A. Lapus.
These reform measures would further enhance the department’s capability to provide quality textbooks for all public schools nationwide, Lapus said.
The guide contains recommendations aimed at helping improve not just learning competencies but also teachers’ skills, said Dr. Vilma Labrador, DepEd undersecretary for programs and projects.
Teachers are also asked to provide feedback by citing specific errors, explaining them and making recommendations on how they can be corrected.
A select group of teachers and school supervisors reviewed the 11 textbooks, along with other DepEd publications, to ensure that they were error-free, Labrador explained in the guide’s foreword.
According to Santos, the DepEd issued a similar guide on textbook errors before, calling it “Teaching Notes.”
But the militant Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said the publishing of an errata guide deals with only one aspect of the problem of textbook content.
ACT chair Antonio Tinio said the DepEd has yet to address more fundamental concerns, like the way many history textbooks gloss over the Philippine-American War or exhibit a bias for the martial law regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
He warned the DepEd against becoming complacent as “the public debate on textbook content has hardly begun.”
Despite the department’s limited resources, Lapus is confident the DepEd can “make meaningful reforms happen in the field.” This includes efforts at improving the content of government-issued textbooks, he said.
The IMCS said in a report that it has strengthened the content evaluation process for textbooks and teaching manuals.
It said the old two-stage evaluation system has been replaced by a four-level pre-bid evaluation system to address “the high percentage of textbooks and teachers’ manuals being disapproved due to poor content quality.”
The IMCS has also conducted a number of random inspection tours of publishing company warehouses to examine the production quality of textbooks.
“Major production errors, including books with inverted or missing pages and poor bindings were rejected outright by the recipient division offices. Minor typographical and spelling errors were also found as well as some minor production errors, which included books with untrimmed and wrinkled pages and smudges,” the DepEd said.
Lapus has repeatedly asked the public to assist the department in the ongoing review of textbooks. It has also participated in Senate committee investigations into the reported errors in textbook content and alleged payoffs made to legislators by textbook publishers.
The DepEd is mandated by the Constitution to provide rent-free textbooks and other instructional materials to the public school system. It has been doing this since 1976.
In 2005 and 2006, the government spent some P3.42 billion on textbooks and instructional materials.
In the next two years, the DepEd will spend P4.23 billion for the procurement of 70,602,573 textbooks and other instructional materials, a priority program of the department.
However, the four-stage DepEd textbook procurement system — bidding, pricing, purchasing and delivery — has always been susceptible to graft despite the department’s strict guidelines.
Lapus said the DepEd was “constantly instituting measures to improve our procurement system to ensure the efficient and timely delivery of goods and services within the department.”
He noted that “despite limited funds [in 2006, the DepEd was able to fill the textbook requirements of the public school system due to the imposition of a new procurement policy which promotes transparency, fair competition and title uniformity.”
Early this year, the DepEd’s national textbook delivery program was cited as a “model for procurement reforms” by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an international organization that coordinates aid from donor governments and multilateral organizations to developing countries.