/ 4 June 2023

SENATOR Sherwin Gatchalian urges the Department of Education to explore pre-selection of textbooks to speed up procurement process.

“Let’s not reinvent the wheel. Private schools have been doing pre-selection of books for years and if it’s been working for them, why can’t public schools do the same?” Gatchalian said while imploring the DepEd and the Government Procurement Policy Board.

During the meeting of the 2nd Congressional Commission on Education, Doris Ferrer, PEAC Executive Director and EDCOM 2 Advisory Council member, highlighted the fact that textbooks and learning materials do not reach public schools on time due to the low quality of manuscripts submitted by suppliers, high cost of materials, suppliers’ failure to meet the deadline in printing and delivery, and limited participating bidders.

DepEd Bureau of Learning Resources Director Ariz Cawilan noted several challenges hound the textbook development process in public schools.

These include the need for a more efficient procurement process for production and delivery strategy, failure of bidding due to limited qualified suppliers, failure to meet technical requirements, and low participation of prospective bidders, and late deliveries due to fortuitous events and uncontrollable market forces as to the availability of supply, as well as geographical challenges that make the delivery to the target recipients difficult.

He also said as DepEd is set to begin the rollout of the revised K to 10 curriculum in SY 2024-2025, a call for Grades 1, 4, and 7 textbooks will be issued while the Senior High School Curriculum is being reviewed.

Gatchalian, on the other hand, posed the question of whether the government can just choose from a set of already-published books to alleviate the delays in manuscript revision.

“‘Yung manuscript development, which is the basis for publishing, doon pa lang tayo nade-delay na eh. Can we just choose from a set of existing books already? Instead of developing the manuscript, why don’t we just evaluate existing books?” Gatchalian said.

“The task of EDCOM is to have that aspiration to give one book per learner. We will not solve it if we do the same thing again: develop a manuscript, print it on our own, deliver it all the way to the last school in the country – after 10 years, that’s only when we’re going to see the real problem,” Gatchalian said.

“If we’re just going to do the original procurement process again, even if hopefully we can shorten it to 180, 120 days, it will still be the same problem,” he added.