Bohol Third District Representative Alexie Tutor has filed a bill at the House of Representatives that would institutionalize measures aimed at ridding school textbooks of errors after the Commission on Audit’s (COA) unraveling of an alleged anomaly within the Department of Education (DepEd) which involved the production and distribution of error-riddled textbooks.
House Bill 5308, or the proposed “Educational Textbooks Accuracy and Veracity Act,” which was filed Tuesday seeks to amend RA 8047, otherwise known as the Book Publishing Industry Development Act, to mandate the DepEd to verify factual accuracy of textbooks and manuscripts and to make necessary corrections prior to publishing.
Corrections however would not cover editorial style of the content.
Tutor noted that the measure would give authority to the DepEd to make necessary reviews and corrections on school textbooks.
The neophyte congresswoman’s proposal came after the COA in August this year found out that DepEd reading materials worth over P254 million were filled with errors.
Tutor claimed that while COA directed the DepEd to conduct evaluations and take measures in “rectifying these mistakes,” the latter does not have the authority to specifically make corrections.
“RA 8047 does not specify nor specifically provide or give authority to DepEd to correct errors. Moreover, RA 8047 does not have provisions with regard to textbook errors, how to deal with those errors, as well as identifying or penalizing those responsible or accountable,” she said.
The measure also seeks to empower the National Book Development Board (NBDB) to develop rules and regulations on textbook publishing including administrative penalties and procedures on the review of textbooks and correction of factual errors.
Meanwhile, the DepEd supposedly has a three-step review process to check the quality of the books.
The COA reported that the errors were seen in the learning materials “despite undergoing the three-step review process of the [DepEd].”
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the committee on basic education, also earlier questioned why the textbooks still contained errors even with the supposed implementation of the procedure.
DepEd, then known as DECS or the Department of Education, Sports and Culture, was previously tasked to publish books in the country but Tutor said that this was only until the enactment of RA 8047, otherwise known as the Book Publishing Industry Development Act.
“Upon the enactment of Republic Act 8047, that function was eventually removed from DECS and was relegated to the private sector to encourage their participation and promote the development of the book publishing industry,” Tutor said.
In the same House Bill, Tutor also pushed for the inclusion of two new mandates for the NBDB.
The provision within the proposed measure directs the establishment of a public library in each city and municipality across the country through the NBDB. Each library should have a public-accessible Wi-Fi with a speed of at least 100 mbps.
It also mandates the agency to conduct annual book fairs in the 100 most populous cities and municipalities of the country to promote reading and improve learning competencies.
The initiatives will be part of a National Public Library Development Program “to be implemented in phases over a period of seven fiscal years.” (R. Tutas)