Wake Up, Philippines!

Inhaling flattery

Posted in Books, DECS, Education by Erineus on February 11, 2009

“A little flattery hurts no one,” Adlai Stevenson often said. But he’d tack on a caution: “Don’t inhale.”

Did anybody inhale after Education Secretary Jesli Lapus ladled out a left-handed compliment for those battling error-studded textbooks?

Lapus complimented former academic supervisor Antonio Calipjo Go for waging an uphill campaign against flawed books, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported. [Read story] But did Lapus have a choice? His department ordered schools to ban defective books that Go had pinpointed. Reluctant publishers trotted out correction pamphlets, but these are often ignored.

“Some people pay a compliment as if they expected a receipt.” And Lapus’ receipt? Why didn’t Go sit down with publishers? he suggested. After all his critique, “Burn after reading,” included “lines of ungrammatical poetry taken out of context”?

Go’s new review, “Lengua estopido,” however, ferreted out additional mistakes in both grammar and fact in the “English for You and Me” language textbook for Grade 6.

“Heidi’s family went on a vacation to the province of Paoay,” the book says. Paoay is an Ilocos Norte town, not a province. The country’s best-known “earthquake baroque church” is located there. Construction of St. Agustine started in 1694. The church, completed in 1710, is included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

“The Tausugs, who live in Jolo, are described as warlike people but most are friendly, peaceful and hospitable,” the book claims. “They are completely attired only when they sport weapons around their waists. They believe in black magic, sorcery, voodoo and love potions. The Koran, their Bible, forbids the eating of dead meat.”

Go’s previous review nailed samples of splintered grammar. “Make some magic for me!” the book reads. “‘Abracadabra, Sssh! Boom!’ Bobby shouted. He ran to his uncle. ‘Looked here, Uncle,’ he said. His uncle looked like an invisible man.”

There are one-liners that double up the reader: “The engine of the tractor is sleeping.” “Turtles squirm independently.” “A ferryman worked hard as transport chief of the rafts.”

The new critique turns up more of the same: “Many can be learned from reading books.” “He resembles the knight in a shining armor.” “Under the bed lay the robbers, as quiet as a mice.” “A smile is something that you give it away.”

But what about “ungrammatical poetry taken out of context” that had Lapus all steamed up?

“Love one another and let them express / For life is short and leads to an end / So feel the touch and moving caress / And may God be the divine witness.” “She lives in a place that is drowned in mystery.”

Wait, there’s more: “I got a butterfly with flower-designed wings.” “He lifted his soul because of loneliness.” “The grass seems to wink at me.” “Even the birds laughed at him!”

“I am aghast at the education secretary’s defense of errors in ‘English For You and Me’ as poetry,” e-mailed Dr. Jaime Ong of De La Salle University. Ong, who has a PhD from Stanford, adds: “Good heavens, I teach poetry — Shakespeare, in fact — and ‘the engine of the tractor is sleeping’ is not poetry, or verse. It’s a strained and graceless metaphor… I, therefore, welcome [Viewpoint’s] support for Antonio Calipjo Go.”

From Dammam, capital of Saudi Arabia’s eastern province, Fred Roda e-mailed. Here’s a quick translation of his message in classic Tagalog:

“I read, on Inquirer’s net page, your column, ‘Nitpicker? Or gadfly?’ I followed news accounts of Go and his advocacy regarding textbook anomalies. Errors in grammar and facts, plain misinformation at ano pang ek-ek in these textbooks can be traced to corruption in producing these books.

“But what do journalists in TV, print and radio want to convey with stories like these? Is it to reach citizens, like us, about unsavory things happening? Is it to inform those influential personalities about unacceptable practices in public as well as private schools?

“How many more Acsa Ramirezes, Jun Lozadas and Major Marcelinos must be made to suffer? There are too many to count now. Add to that, journalists who have lost their lives because they wrote the truth.

“Will journalists, like you, write articles for citizens, like me, so we’re filled with fury over what is happening at home? Or will Filipinos like you and me become ‘nitpickers or gadflies’ to foster reform?”

“Even those who aren’t being criticized can tire of the constant stream of complaints,” the British Broadcasting Corp.’s feature on “The Gadfly” warns. “Sometimes, they wish the gadfly will accept life as it is, and just get on… But one thing that keeps the gadfly on his task is the knowledge he is right. And the world would be a much better place if everyone else realized it.”

Antonio Calipjo Go and others painfully learned that being a gadfly is not for the faint of heart. “They must pick a cause they’re passionate about,” the BBC feature stresses. “Be content with small victories in the beginning. And work up from there… They will have to swim against the current … [But] they can take heart from all the gadflies who have gone before. Know that you’re part of a proud tradition.”

Must our school kids settle for what Lapus’ glib defense of “ungrammatical poetry”: “Stop, look, listen! / A car is roaring, too.”

Meanwhile, don’t inhale.

By Juan Mercado
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:59:00 02/12/2009

Guidelines on students’ drug tests out

Posted in Dangerous Drug Board, Dangerous Drugs, Education, Schools, Students by Erineus on February 3, 2009

MANILA, Philippines — The Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) has released “clarificatory guidelines” on random drug tests to “allay public apprehension and clear alleged human rights violations” over tests the government will conduct in schools across the country, DDB chairman Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said on Monday.

The tests, originally scheduled to begin Monday, have been postponed to Wednesday.

In a statement, Sotto stressed that random drug testing is “preventive rather than punitive” in nature and are aimed at preventing illegal drug use among students and rehabilitating those found to be drug users.

The DDB guidelines lay down the objectives of the drug testing and how this will be conducted, as well as the different ways students found to be drug users will be treated.

“Random drug testing for students is considered by the government as entirely a ‘health’ issue and aims to provide services, to those who will be tested positive for dangerous drug/ use that will help the student stop further use and abuse of the substance,” the guidelines said.

“The drug testing program and results of testing shall guarantee the personal privacy and dignity of the students and shall not be used in any criminal proceedings,” the document added.

Sotto emphasized that the results of the drug tests will be confidential.

Also, he said, a “first time positive confirmatory drug test result shall not be a ground for expulsion or any disciplinary action against the student.”

But for drug dependents, “the school may impose the appropriate sanctions against the student as provided for in the school’s Student Handbook and the Manual of Regulations for Private Schools,” and allow re-enrollment after rehabilitation, Sotto said.

Students who test positive will be required to undergo three months of counseling, in coordinating with parents, by a Department of Health-accredited facility.

The government expects to conduct random drug tests in all 8,455 secondary and 1,726 tertiary schools nationwide.

Vocational school students and tertiary level faculty members will also undergo the random tests.

Results of random tests in 2007 showed that 39 students, or 0.5 percent of those tested, were positive for illegal drug use.

SAYS ANGARA: DepEd system is cause of bad books

Posted in DepEd, Education by Erineus on February 3, 2009

MANILA, Philippines—An “incestuous” setup within the Department of Education’s book review system is one of the reasons for the perennial problem of error-filled textbooks in the school system, Sen. Edgardo Angara said Monday.

Angara said that up to now the government had yet to implement a provision in a 1995 law, Republic Act No. 8047 or the Book Publishing Industry Development Act, which removes from DepEd’s Instructional Material Corporation (IMC) the power to commission and review books to be used in schools.

The law transfers these powers to the National Book Development Board. But 14 years later, this provision has yet to be implemented.

“We want to take away the exclusive monopoly of the IMC, which is a martial law creation, so we decided the National Book [Development] Board will take charge of commissioning textbooks as well as vetting and reviewing those that go into the school system,” Angara said.

“The reason is I thought the commission and the review of textbooks should be separate from the customer, the customer being the education department. If both are undertaken in-house, it smacks of an incestuous relationship,” he said.

Angara said the provision had not been implemented because of the strong lobby by the book publishing industry.

“There is a lobby, not in a pejorative sense, but there is a pressure group that tries to market textbooks and instruction materials. This is a huge market,” he said.

“It’s really atrocious. We’re robbing our youth. [If the review] is done by an outside independent agency, like the National Book Development Board, then you will get an independent appraisal of the textbooks. Then you can encourage competition among writers of textbooks,” Angara said.

He said the IMC is in charge of selecting the writers of English, Math and Social Science textbooks.

“They designate the writer and the examiner—the one who will review and edit. It smacks of lutong macaw (a charade),” Angara said.

By Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:22:00 02/03/2009

Tagged with: , ,

Lessons for employee development

Posted in Education, Employment, Formation, Training by Erineus on February 2, 2009

MEMORIZING the lyrics of a new song, figuring out how to make new software work, driving a car and acquiring a new skill—any of these activities involves the process of learning.

The ability to learn is one of humankind’s most important qualities that differentiate us from lower forms of being. It allows us to adapt to changing surroundings and find solutions to increasingly complex problems. What and how we learn determine who or what we will become.

Differing learning styles

How do people learn?

A study was conducted by the Ateneo Center for Organization Research and Development to determine what is the Filipino adults’ learning style and whether there is a difference in learning styles in terms of age, status and gender. The survey was administered to 223 students and 277 employees and professionals.
The results of the study reveal that learning style varies according to one’s age and gender. It shows that the younger respondents are more reflective-observers, who prefer self-study, while older respondents are more of active learners and experimenters.

Working respondents opt to learn with computers and group interaction while students are more comfortable with learning by reading and listening to lectures.

In terms of gender, males prefer self-study, and females prefer coaching.

The findings of this study affirm the importance of knowing what learning styles are most applicable to certain groups. This knowledge would help in the design and development of interventions and would make trainers more efficient and effective.

This also implies the need for trainers to be well versed on the profile of their potential trainees so they can adjust the training methods to their learning styles.

Empowering learners

The reality is, however, that it may be impossible to tailor fit all programs to meet the variety of styles of all learners. Thus, using a good mix of approaches may ensure that learners respond to the development intervention.

The results also suggest the importance of skills in process observation and analysis and flexibility for trainers.

Being able to read your audience and determining whether they are involved in the learning process and being flexible in approaches and designs are vital to success as a trainer.

The findings also strongly point to the need to go beyond training as a means for development. Clearly, while classroom training is still preferred by many, others prefer self-paced or more informal methods such as coaching.

This suggests the need to explore nontraining interventions such as readings, coaching, project assignments, etc.

Beyond this, perhaps it is time that we begin empowering the learners to take more responsibility for their own development. Assisting learners to assess their own strengths and competencies as well as mapping out their development plan may, in the end, be the true embodiment of being sensitive to learner’s needs and styles. After all, the true determinants of what learning approaches will work best are the learners themselves.

By Edna P. Franco
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:44:00 02/01/2009