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### A Critical View on Reforming the Education System

Rescuing the education system from the deep challenges it faces will require the implementation of supportive legislation for educational transformations, organizational restructuring, and increased financial backing. As highlighted in the EDCOM II analysis, the success of these endeavors hinges on addressing the persistent issue of misaligned assumptions, goals, and expectations.

Examples of this misalignment include inconsistencies in regulatory compliance and a lack of coordination among departments within the same institution. These discrepancies are not only visible within individual organizations but also extend across different agencies, between service providers and beneficiaries, and in the interaction between the private and public sectors. While a detailed examination of the cases outlined in the EDCOM II report is pending, the correlations it identifies resonate with current challenges.

For instance, the Department of Education (DepEd) is considering seeking support from the World Bank to establish a rationale and suitable approach for improving teachers’ compensation. This proposed compensation package aims to include increased take-home pay, extended health benefits, a contingency fund, and additional remuneration for extra workload and overtime.

While this proposal has its merits, it should not unduly burden taxpayers, as cautioned. EDCOM II expressed concerns about DepEd’s projected expenses for hiring entry-level statisticians exceeding prevailing market rates, emphasizing the importance of external oversight to prevent such miscalculations.

A comprehensive study should explore the dynamics of the education market and assess the performance of educational service providers. Currently, DepEd teachers receive higher salaries than their private sector counterparts. This raises the question: are taxpayers receiving adequate returns on their investments, ensuring efficient resource utilization? Does DepEd truly require a starting salary of P50,000 per month, nearly double the existing rate, to attract skilled educators?

While financial incentives can enhance job performance, indiscriminate salary increases may inflate costs without a corresponding improvement in effectiveness. If certain private schools deliver equivalent or superior quality education despite challenges, transferring students from overcrowded public institutions to these schools could boost overall educational standards.

In response to a concern raised by EDCOM II, DepEd aims to enhance educational effectiveness by relieving teachers of non-teaching responsibilities such as administrative tasks, event management, and data reporting. However, these duties and associated compensations often contradict the guidelines in the 1966 Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, as previously noted by EDCOM I in 1994. The proposed solution involves hiring temporary staff outside the regular workforce, funded through the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) budget. While permissible, this approach presents challenges.

Relying on non-permanent, contractual personnel for recurring non-academic tasks, funded through MOOE, may lead to bureaucratic expansion. These temporary recruits may seek permanent positions, potentially straining DepEd’s budget and administrative framework.

Moreover, the shift towards online education endorsed by DepEd is expected to increase utility costs, which currently consume a significant portion of the MOOE, limiting resources for other educational needs. Using non-regular staff for ancillary functions may not provide a sustainable solution, potentially worsening financial strains and administrative complexities.

The insights from the EDCOM II assessment underscore the need for a thorough review and targeted implementation of reforms in the education sector. By prioritizing classroom instruction effectiveness and evaluating the relevance of additional tasks, DepEd can streamline its operations and improve educational outcomes. Assessing the effectiveness of assessment tests, aligning them with learning objectives, and reducing redundant administrative burdens are crucial steps towards creating a conducive learning environment.

In conclusion, the EDCOM II report offers a valuable roadmap for implementing significant educational reforms. Its recommendations require careful consideration and diligent execution to drive the education system towards greater efficiency and effectiveness.