Education Secretary Leonor Briones said armed conflict and climate change are two of the current challenges facing education in the country. Briones was the guest speaker at the Eminent Person Lecture Series of Silliman University (SU), Jan. 15 at the Luce Auditorium.
The government’s conflict with various groups has made it hard for DepEd to reach out to young people like those in Islamic fundamentalist groups, Briones said.
“Education is abstained here because all participants [are interested] not only in verbal but physical debate,” she added.
Another problem that could affect all professions is climate change and disaster, Briones said.
She recalled her visit to different schools in the countries where learnings have been interrupted because of natural disasters.
She narrated her visit to Lanao del Norte where a school had to move to another building because of the flood. She also mentioned her visit to Biliran, Leyte, where she saw a school building buried by a hill that had collapsed.
“I could not imagine seeing the entire book of encyclopedia, laboratory, computers, etc. buried in mud. I also went to Marawi; in Marawi we had 22 schools which cannot be utilized anymore and would probably be replaced completely,” she narrated.
Climate change is one of the reasons why DepEd had to increase the budget so that they can attempt to remedy the damage caused by natural disasters.
“It’s not winter is coming. Climate change is coming and it is here already,” Briones said.
Briones added that the culture of the country is also challenged with the changing times.
“…the various decision making have been impacted by technology and even as we wanted to catch with technology, we also think in terms of what we might lose in terms of culture in terms of value system,” she said.
During her speech, Briones also mentioned four of DepEd’s key deliverables as mandate of the department.
One is raising the quality of education. The constitution, Briones said, does not only say to provide education for learner but provide quality education.
“This is a continuing challenge for us,” she said.
Second is making education accessible to everyone. Currently DepEd has special programs for indigenous people or children of different tribes and communites and also for children coming from Muslim families.
The third challenge for DepEd according to Briones is making education relevant to the urgent needs and opportunities of all nations.
Briones emphasized the need of teaching learners how to accept change not just because of natural disasters but change because of advances in science and technology.
“We cannot ask our learners to keep on memorizing though it’s good but to be able to accept and deal with change, we have to be creative,” she added.
Moreover, Briones also shared that before President Duterte assumed office, he already advised the secretary to strengthen the preventive drug education component of curriculum.
“Not only lectures of the contents of particular drugs but of stories who have successfully made out of addiction,” she said.
The DepEd deliverable according to Briones is making education truly liberating.
“[An education] where students will be given a freedom to choose, freedom to create, freedom to question and the freedom to deal with change,” she said. (with reports from Sommer Buyante, News Editor)