February 23, 2007 at 9:32 PM #48587
This is alarming, mistakes of this kind should not be left un-noticed/unchecked.I wonder what the DEP ED’s honchos do about this concern.
GET REALErrors in textbooks used by private schools
By Solita Collas-MonsodInquirerLast updated 01:35am (Mla time) 02/24/2007
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, a saying goes. This apparently aptly applies to the case of primary and secondary level textbooks for private schools.
How did I come to this conclusion? Here is the story: Sigrid S. Rodolfo (Ph.D. Chemistry, Purdue University), head of the Luzon Technical Institute in San Antonio, Zambales, was in the National Bookstore branch in Cubao, Quezon City, searching for a suitable textbook for first year science. She came upon “General Science I,” published by St. Augustine Publications (2005), with Magdalena C. Jauco and Rolando L. Caiquet listed as authors. (They also apparently co-authored a textbook for chemistry.)
The book had some attractive features, among which was the indicated range of topics. That it had large print was also helpful. Dr. Rodolfo almost ordered 200 copies, but she brought home only one copy for closer examination. And that’s where she discovered “gross errors,” especially in chemistry which is her field of expertise. She turned it over to her physics teacher, who also found errors in his subject.
In her letter to me, Dr. Rodolfo lists some general deficiencies as well as specific errors. Among the general deficiencies are — no credentials cited for the authors (I googled them. I found no items for a Magdalena Jauco, but a Rolando Caiquet is cited as an instructor in the University of Santo Tomas College of Education); no index to help locate specific topics (which to me is a major defect); misspellings and faulty grammar; misleading or mystifying discussions because the basic terms used are unexplained; and the notes on prominent scientists are not related to the chapter topics.
Then she goes on to specific technical errors (and the pages where they are located) — which include an erroneous diagram on the classification of matter; another diagram which is confusing due to the omission of a key word; yet another diagram which is not only incomplete, but commits the gross error of confusing atoms and molecules, etc., etc.
Not one to just sit back and moan, Dr. Rodolfo went to see the president of St. Augustine Publications, armed with her copy of the book with all the errors marked; as well as a formal letter “written in the interest of improving our science education in the country. We hope you share the same concern, to better control the quality of the textbooks that bear the name of your company.” Dr. Rodolfo obviously does not mince her words. Unfortunately, the object of her visit was “out,” but his secretary went over the errors with her, and received her letter.
Dr. Rodolfo then asked for my help to “arouse attention from the bigwigs who have the power to do something.” And help her I must. One can do no less for someone who could have taken the easy way out, but chose the more difficult one. Dr. Rodolfo didn’t have to go through all that reading, marking, writing and calling (me, for one) — all she had to do was just look for another textbook. But she is concerned for the young students who will be assigned that textbook and will absorb those errors. She knows that if we want to teach good Math, Science and English, we cannot afford to ignore the textbooks.
Note, dear reader, the publication date of the “General Science I” textbook: 2005. That’s long after Antonio Calipjo Go blew the whistle on the errors in children’s textbooks; and certainly long after all kinds of promises were made by all and sundry to ensure the quality of textbooks. I remember, for example, that 18 professors of UP, experts in their fields, were called on by the Department of Education to look for errors in textbooks so that they could be corrected, at least by way of “teachers’ notes.”
First thing I did was to call the Department of Education, only to be told by Daisy Santos of the Instructional Materials Council Secretariat, division of Evaluation and Training, that while the education department might “set the standards” for the writing of textbooks, it had no actual authority, no sanctioning power, over textbooks written for, or chosen by, private schools.
This, thanks it seems to Republic Act 8047 (1995), the Book Publishing Industry Development Act. I am told (this is second hand — I haven’t researched the issue) that until then, the Department of Education had power of approval over all textbooks. But there was a clamor to “deregulate” the textbook publishing industry, at least for private schools. The reason? Because the private schools thought the textbook standards applied by the Department of Education were too low. Good intentions.
Thus, private schools now choose their own textbooks. If there are complaints from parents, the education department’s power is limited to calling the attention of the publishers, using moral suasion — unlike the real power it has over public school textbooks, which now must go through a panel of experts/evaluators for approval.
By the way, I am told that there are now many more complaints regarding private than public school textbooks. Ironic.
Can anything be done about this? Well, the National Book Development Board (NBDB) has a “Quality Seal” program in which it offers to evaluate textbooks for private schools. But it is voluntary — and has few takers. So private school students may be condemned to a hell of textbook errors, the road to which is paved by good intentions.
It is cold comfort to be told that there are textbook errors all over the world. The point is that, given the poor quality of education here, we cannot afford these avoidable mistakes.
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