September 21, 2022

Sara Duterte could have ‘a very difficult time’ at DepEd, analyst says

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President-elect Sara Duterte may struggle to lead the Department of Education (DepEd) as she faces an education crisis and bureaucracy at the Philippines’ largest government department, said an analyst.

Duterte, the mayor of Davao City, is expected to be named chief education officer, replacing DepEd secretary Leonor Briones.

“I think she’s really going to go through a very difficult time because we’re in the midst of an education crisis right now. Apart from the continuing problem and backlogs in public school facilities, we also have a learning problem,” said said political scientist Cleve Arguelles. , who teaches at De La Salle University, said in an interview with “The Chiefs” on Tuesday night.

He explained that Duterte will also have to deal with the problem of students performing poorly in math, science and reading comprehension.

A World Bank report released last year showed Filipino students ranked at the bottom of multilateral bank learning assessments related to math, science and reading, noting that the problem was accompanied by bullying and health problems such as malnutrition.

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For Arguelles, managing a big department such as the DepEd is a “different ball game” compared to being general manager of Davao City.

“The DepEd is also really a huge bureaucracy and she will be the override for the post of Mayor of Davao City… She will be running a really huge department with a 100% visible presence in all parts of the Philippines so I think it will be a test of his leadership,” he said.

Briones, in a report to the Appointments Commission in 2017, called the DepEd “the biggest bureaucracy in the Philippine government.” At the time, the department had 763,538 authorized plantilla positions, including 674,613 teaching positions.

His former spokesperson Liloan, Cebu Mayor Christina Frasco, said last month that Duterte was qualified to lead the department, citing his “extensive leadership experience and deep knowledge of the challenges facing schools, students and parents, having served as president of the local school board. for many years”.

“Beyond theoretical ideas about managing the education sector…Vice President-elect Sara will certainly bring to DepEd the real-world performance and solution-focused leadership needed to improve the quality of education in our country,” Frasco added.

The DepEd historically receives the highest budget from Congress.

Briones welcomed Duterte’s announcement as the new head of DepEd on May 11, two days after the 2022 election, and said she was confident “DepEd will be in good hands and look forward to continuity.”

Briones said separately in a statement released this week that they look forward to assisting the new vice president in the transition, which will include the transfer of priority education programs and policies, such as the Education Development Plan. Baseline 2030 – the country’s first long-term plan. basic education project.

The Education Department expects all schools to hold face-to-face lessons next school year, which is due to start at the end of August. More than 32,700 public schools and 1,063 private schools have already started in-person classes, according to figures shared last week.

The education sector was disrupted at the start of the pandemic, which forced teachers and students to switch to remote learning due to health protocols. The abrupt shift to distance learning has been met with challenges including uneven internet and lack of funds for gadgets.