(June 22, 2022) – Incoming Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio will face a serious challenge as she takes on her new role as head of the Department of Education (DepEd) under the next administration due to the systemic concerns hounding the education sector, a political scientist said on Tuesday.
Cleve Arguelles, a lecturer at De La Salle University, noted that Duterte-Carpio will enter an unfamiliar territory since her background as mayor of Davao City is very much different from the role she would assume as DepEd secretary.
“I think she will really have a difficult time because we are currently in the midst of an education crisis, aside from the enduring problem of the backlogs of the facilities in public schools and infrastructures. We also have a learning problem,” said Arguelles on One News’ The Chiefs.
Arguelles pointed to the poor performance of students in international tests as proof of the learning problem. The Philippines ranked dead-last in reading and second to the last in science and mathematics in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).
This prompted outgoing DepEd secretary Leonor Briones to order a review of the curriculum to address the gaps in the quality of education in the country. In its statement, DepEd said it will use the results to help form its policy moving forward.
“By participating in PISA, we will be able to establish our baseline in relation to global standards, and benchmark the effectiveness of our reforms moving forward,” said the DepEd in 2019. “DepEd recognized the urgency in addressing issues and gaps in attaining the quality of basic education in the Philippines.”
The DepEd, however, was beset with even more problems when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, shutting down schools and resorting to online classes, which exposed other issues.
Duterte-Carpio has said she will usher in a review of the K-12 program on the order of President-elect Bongbong Marcos Jr. But she added that calls to abolish the system cannot be decided in a short period as they need to make a thorough assessment.
Arguelles noted that while Duterte-Carpio has a background in local government, she also needs to brace herself for a larger bureaucracy. She previously said she’s not interested in running for a national position.
“This is really a different ball game,” said Arguelles. “She will be running a really huge department with 100% visible presence in all parts of the Philippines. So, I think that this will be a test for leadership. This will be the kind of job that will really demand full attention on her part.”
Duterte-Carpio, who initially wanted to head the Department of National Defense, said she is ready to assume the position of DepEd chief as she sets a meeting with Briones next week.
“We were actually both excited because educating our young people is very important for the progress and development of our nation,” said Duterte-Carpio last month.