This is the first time we are actually quite grateful the government has been remiss in its duty of providing textbooks for every public school student. If it had done its job well, millions of children will grow up believing the Chinese people are fond of opium or that we have a coconut-shaped planet.
Indeed we have entered the Information Age where knowledge takes precedence over possession of other forms of capital. In a lifetime, a person can absorb tons of data that reading an error-filled textbook today can easily be corrected in the future.
But this is wishful thinking for a country where functional literacy is low, drop-out rate in schools is high and access to computers is limited mainly in urban areas.
For those of us who went to public schools, a textbook is the single most important learning tool inside the classroom. Teachers have to be very convincing if he/she wants the children to believe in his/her lecture that is contrary to what is written in the textbook.
Radio and television are for entertainment, computers are for games and internet, but the textbook is a sacred material for children. Its role is to dispense relevant information about our world. It is highly valued that students share their textbooks with their younger friends, relatives and neighbors.
Very few or no student will ever question the accuracy of the contents of school textbooks. The questioning will start in college. Too late for those who dropped out of school and pity the children who inherited the books.
Reviewing all learning materials in schools is the least the Department of Education can do. It should also punish textbook reviewers, force the publisher to reprint amended copies and overhaul its screening process for future learning resources. We propose that DepEd request scholars from reputable universities to write elementary and high school textbooks.
The textbook fiasco partly answers the question why many of our students are poor in math and science.
Before we label our students as unfit for high school instruction, can we at least guarantee that they are provided with accurate learning materials?