A viral video clip from the reality show Pinoy Big Brother has demonstrated the decline in the quality of education in the Philippines.
In the video, teen contestants were asked, among other questions, for the popular collective name of the priests who were executed during the Spanish rule: Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos and Jacinto Zamora, who were executed by garrote on charges of subversion arising from the 1872 Cavite mutiny. The “housemates” struggled with the answer, going with “MaJo” before settling for “MaJoHa” as their final answer. The correct answer is “GomBurZa.”
When asked for her reaction on the viral video, Education Secretary Leonor Briones shrugged it off, saying the current administration should not be blamed for the supposed learning crisis exposed by the teenagers’ lack of knowledge of basic historical facts.
Briones, who has been head of the DepEd for six years, said they only “faithfully” implemented the curriculum that was passed on to them, noting that the problems of the education sector also emanated from previous administrations.
The viral video clip has sparked calls for the government to bring back history classes to high school programs in the country. These were removed during the Aquino administration through DepEd Order 20 issued in 2014, which removed Philippine History from the core curriculum of instruction of Araling Panlipunan in the junior high school and senior high school.
In 2021, several groups, including Vice President Leni Robredo, had called on government to declare a “learning crisis” in the country following a World Bank report on poor learning results among Filipino students.
Education advocates have said that the pandemic highlighted the gaps in the Philippine education system. This has been evident in some erroneous learning modules distributed to public school students during the pandemic.
The “MaJoHA” video can be described as embarrassing or amusing but the cavalier reaction of the DepEd head to it is certainly not funny. If the Secretary of Education is not alarmed by the poor performance of Filipino students in a reality show quiz, what will it take before the DepEd takes its responsibility seriously and acts accordingly to ensure better stewardship of the millions of young Filipinos minds that go through the country’s schools every year?*