Wexistential Crises, Wayward Thoughts, Welcome Distractions and Willful Pursuits

DepEd Order No. 91

with 6 comments

I work for an organization that does community-based education reform programs. Currently we are operating in 164 municipalities all over the country and our programs cover nearly two million public school children.

We rely on a number of assessment tools to gauge the academic performance of pupils in our sites. We track their performance over the years to help us measure the impact of our interventions. One of these tools is the National Achievement Test (NAT), which is administered yearly by the Department of Education (DepEd).

In the school years before SY 2008-2009, DepEd’s National Educational Testing and Research Center (NETRC) annually provided us a copy of the results for the entire country. They came in nifty Excel spreadsheets like this and showed the mean percentage scores (MPS) per division per region for that particular school year. It was a relatively hassle-free transaction.

In SY 2008-2009, DepEd, in typical government fashion, decided to make a simple process unnecessarily difficult. They decided that they would no longer release the results for the entire country. They made us make separate requests for each division in which we have projects. It took them forever to process our requests. We received some of the results, we didn’t receive the others.

Then to make matters worse, this SY 2009-2010 they issued DepEd Order No. 91, s. 2009 to “regulate” the use of the NAT results.

Before a “researcher” can obtain a copy of the results, he/she must first jump through the following hoops:

  • Prove that he/she is qualified to do research work (They do not, however, specify what kind of proof they require. And anyway, what if I’m not “qualified” to do research work? What if I’m just an ordinary citizen who wants to know the levels of academic performance in different parts of the country?)
  • Present a copy of his/her approved thesis/dissertation proposal signed by my thesis adviser (But… I’m not a student and I’m not going to use the results for a thesis/dissertation. Why is there the implicit assumption that the only people who want a copy of the results are students?)
  • Submit an endorsement signed by his/her dean (What dean?)
  • Sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) stating that he/she:
    • Will not compare regions, divisions, schools and examinees without taking into consideration other variables that may have a substantial effect on the outcome of the test (Well, what if I’m not going to use the results in a study? What if I’m going to present the results in an education summit to show a particular community just how badly their kids are performing compared to the national average and to drive home the point that their situation is dire and that they need to do something about it?)
    • Will furnish a DepEd a copy of my study (Paranoid much?)
  • Pay the corresponding fee for the data requested (We didn’t have to pay for the data before. Now there’s a rate of 1 peso per pupil. I was aghast. So if we want the NAT results of 1.76 million pupils does that mean we have to pay 1.76 million pesos?!? I nearly fell out of my chair when NETRC said yes.*)

Furthermore, NETRC will only release 10% of the actual number of examinees per test per year. The 2009 NAT was taken by some 1.76 million pupils from 31,196 public and 2,386 private elementary schools nationwide. That means at most, we can only get the results for 176,000 students. Such a small percentage does not paint an accurate picture of academic performance in the country.

But that seems to be the whole point of Order No. 91. DepEd says they want to “safeguard and prevent the misuse, mishandling, misinterpretation, exploitation and manipulation” of the NAT results, but to me the subtext of that policy reads, “We don’t want to show anyone the results because they make us look bad.”

DepEd is perceived to be the least corrupt government agency and has an approval rating of 62%. I guess people don’t know just how bad things really are. How devoid the system is of professionalism, transparency and accountability. How bureaucratic and inefficient it is. How appallingly feudal the culture is, how superintendents are lords and their divisions their personal fiefdoms. How politicized appointments are and how much discretion there is over the use of funds.

One of the groups I’m involved with, the Movement for Good Governance, just held a roundtable discussion on education reform with leading experts on the topic. The results will be published in a paper that will form part of our 2010 development agenda. In the mean time, the following make for good reading on the subject:

* So apparently there are packages of sorts. The NETRC guy I was talking to said that if we want to save we can opt to pay per school instead of per student. The sample computation they gave me for one of our schools in Tondo came up to 320 pesos for two school years (SY 2008-2009 and SY 2009-2010, which are the school years we don’t have data for). That rate brings the total cost down to a less shocking amount, but it’s still prohibitive. We have programs in thousands of schools! I can understand charging a small processing fee but their rates are unreasonable. These test results are public records and should be made available without restriction. Congress needs to pass the freedom of information bill post haste.


6 Responses

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  1. Hi, I found this blog while searching for the NAT 2009 results/statistics. So why would they “regulate” the use of NAT results? Arrgh!
    Anyways, thanks for the links to the NAT2006-2007 and the Unesco Stat on Phil Ed. in scribd.com. But for some reason (probably my internet connection), I can’t view them. If it’s ok with you, can you send the spreadsheets to my email? The stats will help in one of my projects in an educational technology course – in the needs assessment part of an instructional plan.
    Thanks so much Aissa, cheers!


    February 10, 2010 at 4:46 pm

  2. Hi Aissa,

    I agree with what you said about Deped being devoid of professionalism, transparency and accountability, and people not knowing how bad things really are. But believe it or not people in DepEd also think they’re doing what’s right for the education system despite whatever misgivings they have which they may not necessarily be aware of.

    We must be careful with how we view government, I say especially Deped, as it is one of the most crucial agencies that needs transformation which can only be triggered from within. Your issue with data collection is just one of the many frustrating flaws in the system and I’m sure you’ve been to the field and have seen how worse things could be out there.

    But the point is, being in an organization that does community-based education reform programs, what’s your solution to the problems you see? And if you do have one, or several, perhaps you should also try immersing yourself in the culture first, and not just understand why education is in crisis, but really feel how real the crisis is.

    Perhaps you should try joining DepEd, and see for yourself. Sometimes it’s not enough that we “call on government” to get its act together or demand that it be “accountable” and be “efficient.” Many times it takes us being there to make reform happen.



    May 16, 2010 at 2:21 am

    • Our organization’s management and staff are very well acquainted with the inner workings of the government bureaucracy and the culture, given that many of us have served in government. Our trustees, president and CEO, COO, and various consultants have held senior cabinet positions in several administrations.

      I think our organization understands DepEd quite well, given that we work closely with DepEd at all levels, all the way from DepEd central down to individual schools. And I think we have a good understanding of the problems, as we have been quite immersed in implementing community-based programs in 255 cities and municipalities all over the country . Our programs cover nearly 2 million public school children. If you care to find out more about our organization and our programs, please visit: http://www.synergeia.org.ph/

      If you are interested in our views, in this paper we identify the key problems in the education system and highlight the major changes that need to be introduced: http://www.scribd.com/doc/29578401/MGG-Position-Paper-on-Education


      May 17, 2010 at 4:24 pm

  3. Hi Aissa,

    I am Walther Hontiveros and I am working for Ms. Anne Candelaria, the former chair of the Ateneo Center for Educational Development (ACED) who works closely with Fr. Ben Nebres, S.J., the president of the Ateneo. I think he is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Synergeia 🙂

    I was just wondering if you have the excel files of the NAT Results for the years prior to 2006-2007 (Thank you for this I really appreciate it!) since we are compiling a final report right now to assess the impact of our interventions in Payatas public schools. So getting the NAT results would really help us in our study!

    I understand what you mean (re: bureaucracy). I was doing a previous study for DAR and had to deal with getting data from PAGASA they were charging us a load of money for the annual rainfall data of all the regions! I agree this is public data and should not be sold!

    Walther Neil L. Hontiveros
    Ateneo de Manila University
    AB Economics-Honors

    Walther Hontiveros

    August 20, 2010 at 5:40 pm

  4. Very true, DepEd is using a fake facade by being one of the corrupt agencies of the government but the system is as dirty as any other gov’t agencies:(


    August 26, 2010 at 6:30 am

  5. i would agree that the department of education is on the top list among the most corrupt agency of the country.it is very much obvious how they do corruptions. “What is the use and significance of undergoing this ranking process where in fact if you will be hailed as the top 1 or be in the top list among the applicants in a certain division or district THERE IS DEFINITELY NO SPACE/POSITION FOR YOU IN THE SYSTEM (teaching). THE WORST HERE IS THAT THOSE WHO DO NOT EVEN BELONG AND PASSED SSAID RANKING WAS HIRED AND GIVEN THE TEACHING ITEM!!!!!!!WWWHHHHEEEWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    March 19, 2011 at 3:05 pm

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