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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Who Killed PCER?

It was one of the things that Erap Estrada did right during his short-lived presidential stint: Executive Order No. 46 - Establishing the Presidential Commission on Educational Reform (PCER) whose main points are used by PNoy's K+12 initiative, namely:

1. Establishment of a One-Year Pre-Baccalaureate System

"Decreasing NCEE (now NSAT) scores, deteriorating mathematical ability and low achievement/scholastic levels, on the whole, have been attributed to inadequate schooling at the basic education level. The ten-year pre-college preparation has appeared to be inadequate either for higher education or work. To address this problem, one of the recommendations of PCER is to propose a bridging year between high school and college." - No. 4 in PCER's nine (9) doable reform proposals

2. Expanding the Options for Medium of Instruction in Grade I through the Use of the Regional Lingua Franca or the Vernacular

"Pushing for vernacular use in the primary grades, at least, in Grade I, seems the practical thing to do. UNESCO's stand in favor of the use of Mother Tongue instruction is worth mentioning. UNESCO Regional Director for Asia Victor OrdoƱez (1998) has stated that "it is part of our [UNESCO's] task to protect and celebrate the diversity … between cultures and not homogenize it to the point that we lose our individual identities." UNESCO has been known to be a staunch supporter of the idea of developing functional literacy through the vernacular." - No. 7 in PCER's nine (9) doable reform proposals

A friend was part of the team under the Office of the President (Erap) who worked on this project. I remember her always staying late at the office trying in vain to beat the deadline. I used to wait for her to finish work at their DECS office in Ortigas, Pasig on a work week, and even accompanied her there some Saturdays for additional work. Man, she was a slave!

One day, I was bored waiting and out of nowhere I blurted out, "Why don't we put your PCER report on a website? It will be accessible to everyone and people can critique and give their feedback." Her eyes lit up (It was early 2000, you know.), and said she loves the idea. But after a split second, she changed tone and said their office didn't have a budget for it. And I go, "Who said you'd need a budget for it? I can put it together for you using for free. Ask Sec. Ordonez if he agrees." At the time I was crazy putting together this personal journal which I started in 1999. These days, we call it blog. My friend jumped off her seat, clapped her hands, and hugged me... Corny...No, she didn't hug me. :P

The following week, we received the go signal. And my friend started sending me confidential files, including reports, Erap's electronic signature, logos, etc. And I was like What the hell did I put myself into?! All these without me signing any confidentiality contract. I was not even part of their payroll! Heck, I was only an accidental volunteer. But things changed hence. Now, whenever I came to their office they would feed me siopao or puto. My friend would always introduce me to everyone as their web developer.

The website was crude - Tripod was crude in 2000 and free with nary a pop ad - but after everything had been put in place, PCER became the most informative government website at that time.

As a token of appreciation, my friend got me an official invitation to the Malacanang during the launch of the PCER report, with Erap Estrada presenting it to the press and stakeholders. My name was also included in the PCER book acknowledging me as the website's developer which I found embarrassing.

Fastforward to 2011, I checked on the PCER website and to my amazement, the site was still active!

This morning, I Googled it, and what did I find? This message:

"410- Website No Longer Exists
The page you've requested is from a banned site and has been permanently removed.
Please remove all references to this page."

The site had been used and acknowledged as a reference by researchers on educational reforms including a paper published by a UNESCO Bangkok report in 2009. The last time I checked its Guestbook, there were hundreds of positive feedback which came in years after Erap was ousted. Read: During the time of Gloria.

Who killed it? The website I created before it is still alive at Tripod.

Someone played smart, and decided to limit and police the cyberspace.

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