Textbook Count to help solve book shortage

The Department of Education (DepEd) has strengthened its partnership with the private sector to achieve its goal of solving the textbook shortage problem this year.

DepEd’s Instructional Materials Council Secretariat, the Ateneo School of Government’s G-Watch and other civil society groups launched this month the 2011 Textbook Count, a two-pronged approach in monitoring the delivery of textbooks to recipient public schools, consisting of the National Textbook Delivery Program and Textbook Walk Program.

The joint public and private initiative is expected to ensure the transparent and orderly delivery of quality books to public schools most in need.

Initiated in 2003 with seven private sector partners, the DepEd-Ateneo monitoring movement has become a consortium of more than 40 organizations.

It has been cited by the World Bank as one of the best practices in seeking government transparency and accountability.

“Our goal here is 100 percent delivery in exact quantities of textbooks and teachers’ manuals to the recipient schools within the agreed delivery period,” said Education Secretary Armin Luistro.

Luistro said earlier that his department hoped to fill completely by the end of the year shortages in textbooks and desks in some 45,000 public schools across the country.

He said delivery was under way to fill the backlog in textbooks in five core subjects: mathematics, science, English, Filipino and Araling Panlipunan (social studies).

DepEd needed 100 million “useable volumes” of books in a given year to provide all core subject textbooks to each public school student, Luistro said.

As books were transported to their destination schools, the public-private monitoring effort hoped to “deliver quality books to public schools in the remotest barangays on time and make sure these are used by the pupils,” he added.

Textbook Count would ensure the timely delivery of “the right quality and quantity” of books to rightful recipients. Textbook Walk, on the other hand, would gather volunteers from the private sector to assist in the actual delivery of textbooks and other instructional materials to the right destination.

“If we want to improve the quality of education, if we want transparency and accountability, this is a good chance for all education stakeholders to share their time, effort and resources so that issues concerning textbooks are addressed in a systematic and comprehensive manner,” Luistro explained.

DepEd is also working with G-Watch in a separate public-private sector effort to monitor the construction of quality classrooms in school districts with the worst classroom shortages.

Meanwhile, DepEd has opened some 100 more science schools nationwide, doubling the number of institutions catering to students with an aptitude for mathematics and science.

Luistro said the opening of the additional special science elementary schools (SSES) was in line with President Aquino’s 10-point education agenda.

He said the 100 new SSES consisted of Special Education (Sped) Centers with programs for the gifted and the talented, and selected regular schools that passed the SSES screening procedures.

“We support the vision of the president to strengthen science education because a strong foundation in the sciences is one of the building blocks of a progressive economy,” Luistro said in a statement.

He said DepEd opened 57 SSES in 2007 and 57 more in 2009 “to train more scientists to support national development.”

The SSES program provided longer instruction time in science, said DepEd. In Grades 1-3, science classes lasted 70 minutes while in Grades 4-6, they lasted 80 minutes. Science instruction in regular elementary classes took just an hour.

“SSES provides enriched curriculum for mathematics and science where gifted and talented learners are provided a venue and exposure to develop their aptitude and skills,” DepEd said.

Classrooms are provided science laboratories, learning resources on information and communications technology and complete textbooks and supplementary materials in science, math and English.

Teachers get specialized training in science and math instruction.

“We also provide our students in the special science program academic and co-curricular opportunities to reach their full potential… they join science camps, investigatory projects, academic competitions, as well as network with other science-oriented schools both locally and within the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region,” Luistro said.

He said the first SSES class would graduate in school year 2012-2013.

This article was first published in http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/60987/textbook-count-to-help-solve-book-shortage.