Saturday, August 14, 2010

Plus 2 Years of Quality Education?

The National Book Development Board can help the Department of Education in prescribing the guidelines in preparing the minimum learning competencies and other specifications for the public school textbooks to be used for the additional 2 years of the basic education cycle announced by Pres. Noynoy Aquino and Sec. Armin Luistro, FSC.
If one additional year would mean restoring Grade 7 to elementary education, then I personally propose that the DepEd with the NBDB begin by looking at the learning competencies targeted by reputable private schools that do have Grade 7.
I do hope that the effort that the DepEd will exert to formulate the curiculum and to mobilize the resources for the additional 2 years will be at least equally matched by the effort to ensure that "every child is a reader by Grade 3" and to raise the mean percentage score of the National Achievement Test (NAT) of prospective graduates of Grade 6 to at least 75%.
As of now, many public school children beyond Grade 3 still cannot read and understand a simple paragraph. The NAT mean percentage score, which was 55% when the NAT started in 2002, has improved through the years to 66.33% in 2009, but this is still below the minimum for what can qualify for "mastery" of the targeted learning competencies which is 75%.
Without ensuring the delivery of quality education especially in the current 6 years of elementary education, the additional 2 years would likely result in the lengthening and reinforcement of mediocrity which would mean a great deal of waste of public resources and taxes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bureaucratic Reform Opportunity

With his high trust ratings, Pres. Noynoy Aquino has the political capital to pursue the streamlining and reform of the bureaucracy at least of the Executive branch of government. If he will seize the opportunity, the clear and ultimate target of bureaucratic reform should be the significant and sustainable reduction of rural and urban poverty in the short and medium terms. Thus, any reform should raise efficiency in, and free more resources for, the delivery of basic services in primary health care, disease prevention, basic education, and agricultural and entrepreneurship development.
Bureaucratic reform should preserve also the capability of the State to practice its core competencies: ensure peace and order, administer justice, set monetary policy, ensure territorial integrity and security, practice diplomacy and pursue beneficial international relations.
Outside of its core competencies and poverty-reduction programs, State activities should be tantamount to “steering” and not “rowing,” or the creation of an enabling and regulatory environment for the private sector to do the “rowing” in providing goods and services to the public especially where the private sector is more efficient in doing so.
Any bureaucratic reform should respect the right of government workers to protection against unemployment. Any reform that cannot avoid job losses should be implemented in a humane way.
In my view, these are the characteristics of agencies and units that bureaucratic reform should prioritize: (a) agencies and units that contribute little to poverty reduction, (b) units that do not belong to the core competencies of the State, (c) units that do more “rowing” than “steering,” and (d) units that do not require an act of Congress for its reform, abolition, or merger with another unit.