[On Aug. 2, 2010, GMANews reported that Pres. Benigno Aquino III named four new undersecretaries for the Department of Education (DepEd). The new appointees are Undersecretary Yolanda Quijano for Programs and Projects, Undersecretary Alberto Muyot for Legal and Legislative Affairs, Undersecretary Rizalino Rivera for Regional Operations, and Undersecretary Francisco Varela for Finance and Administration.]
The only familiar name is Dr. Yoly Quijano. I know her to be a sensible and low profile (not into grandstanding) leader. She has been with us in promoting mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTBMLE) and was a major implementor of the Lingua Franca Project. I hope that during her stint as Undersecretary, she can push strongly for the Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda (BESRA), financed by a US$200 million loan from the World Bank in 2006, as BESRA’s implementation had been stalled since 2005 because of lack of push from former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration.
A Google search of the other DepEd appointees showed that they are from the private sector, mostly products of Jesuit-run universities. They will be working with a boss–DepEd Sec. Armin Luistro–who virtually spent all his schooling life at De La Salle University (DLSU). They are new to the basic education sector and will need sometime to know the intricacies of basic education, as a bureaucracy, a sector and a discipline with its own history and worldviews. I am pretty sure that their children have been educated in the private school system. It will take some time before they would see and understand the culture within our public school system. I hope they will try their best to immerse in the system so that they will earn their right to lead and not be treated as perpetual outsiders.
They will take their seats during a time of massive hemorrhaging of our workforce. Flights are canceled because 25 PAL pilots have left the country and more are poised to leave. There was misforcasting of weather because our experienced meteorologists are gone. Not too long ago we read of hospitals closing down due to lack of doctors. And so on. I wonder how corporatist neo-liberal minded leaders would address this concern. It would be interesting to see what kind of market oriented solutions they will craft together to address a problem caused by the same worldview that they subscribe to.
Their presence in DepEd would reinforce the managerialist orientation of our education system. It has its advantages since it tends to promote efficiency, accountability and bottom line kind of thinking. However such orientation when pushed to the extreme tends to be pro-globalist, prescriptive (according to global/western standards) and sees learners more as labor inputs. It does not place much value on strengthening cultural identities and local knowledge, contextualization of education to local realities and the formation of critical-minded citizens. These concerns are marginalized in a pro-market corporatist educational system.
My only hope is the fact that PNoy’s new DepEd undersecretaries most likely come from a business group that in the past advocated for transformative solutions, like MTBMLE and school-community partnerships. I wish them all the best.