Recto to DepEd: Fix textbook procurement, delivery

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said that the Department of Education (DepEd) should “do its homework” in the delivery and procurement of textbooks and other school equipment. 

The problem, Recto said in a statement released on Saturday, August 10, was not just in the books’ errors but also in their delayed delivery. 

“Last year, of the 38.6 million target number of books, only 11.2 million were bought and delivered. This translates into a dismal 31% failing grade,” Recto said.

Recto's statement comes as the Commission on Audit (COA) found that DepEd spent P254 million for contracts to produce textbooks which were found to be erroneous. State auditors also called out that the contracts to develop the textbooks within the agency were wrong in the first place. 

Teachers also reportedly told auditors that the textbooks were "not in line with the curriculum guide," and that they have had to "resort to using supplemental resources such as books in private schools and internet." 

“Nothing cripples a school system and crushes a child’s desire to learn more than the lack of books. Books are the sources of intellectual nourishment. Schools without textbooks are like restaurants without food,” the senator added. 

He said that the agency’s material resources “must be constantly replenished,” with 22.6 million learners, 890,000 teachers and non-academic personnel as its direct constituents. 

DepEd received the highest allocation of funds at P501.12 billion in the 2019 national budget. Funds will mostly be used for repair and construction of school buildings, the hiring of teaching and non-teaching personnel, as well as developing and providing learning materials to students.  

Recto said that the agency “has no choice but to hire procurement, logistics and supply chain experts who will cut through the red tape and run a system which will ensure that books and the other contents of its annual shopping cart of education materials, equipment and facilities reach end-users on time.” 

The senator added that “a national lesson plan” is needed to fix "across-the-board failures from [gaps in] computers to classrooms to science and vocational equipment." He also told the agency to consider a “multiyear framework” to address schools’ long-term needs. – Rappler.com