On 04 January 2009, The Philippine Star came out with a story titled, “CHED to review defective textbooks” and an editorial called “A Long Overdue Review”. It was stated…
in the news story that, “Sectors earlier pointed out a number of textbooks riddled with factual and grammatical errors, criticizing the National Book Development Board (NBDB), the government agency supposed to ensure the quality of textbooks used in the public schools,” while the editorial cited the NBDB for reviewing books brought to it by publishers.

However, it must be clarified that the National Book Development Board (NBDB) is not a regulatory agency and is not empowered by law to have regulatory powers over public school textbooks. This is made clear under Rule VII, Sec. 2 of Republic Act 8047 or the Book Publishing Industry Act, which states: “The DECS (DepEd) shall ensure the quality of instructional materials to be adopted in the public schools.”

But even if this is so, in the interest of uplifting the standards of the book publishing industry, the NBDB has set up mechanisms to address the issue of erroneous textbooks in the private sector. They are as follows:

1. The New Rule on the Cancellation of Registration of Publishers that Produce Poor Quality Textbooks

In 2005, the NBDB came up with the New Rule on the Cancellation of Registration of Publishers that Produce Poor Quality Textbooks. Under this mechanism, a sworn complaint filed with the NBDB by a teacher, parent, student or concerned citizen that alleges at least ten (10) erroneous items in the complained book, allows the agency to initiate evaluation proceedings over a publisher’s book, even without their consent. If the book is found to be of poor quality, and the publisher is unable to refute the findings, the NBDB’s Board of Governors can come out with a resolution recommending that the publisher stop selling the book. If the publisher refuses to correct the book, he is asked to pay the fine of P100,000.00, and/or the publisher is de-listed from the NBDB’s list of registrants.

2. Textbook Review Service

Another mechanism is the NBDB’s Textbook Review Service where publishers may voluntarily submit their works for evaluation by a team of experts from a Center of Excellence. The evaluation is again submitted to the NBDB Governing Board, which, depending on the evaluation, resolves to either recommend that the publisher stop selling the book, or institute the changes recommended by the evaluators. Under this program, we have completed the evaluation of 27 textbooks.

3. Quality Seal Awards

Initiated in 2007, the NBDB solicited nominations from schools and publishers asking them to nominate the best books in Mathematics for grade school and high school. We started with Mathematics initially because of budget and personnel constraints. However, for the search for the best textbooks for 2008, we have expanded it to include English textbooks. Because of this effort, we were able to evaluate a total of nineteen (19) Mathematics textbooks used in private schools. These books were judged on the basis of content and physical features.

It must be pointed out that all the books submitted have been evaluated, the results given to the publishers, whether they were declared winners or not. The same will be done for the English textbooks submitted to us.

For the year 2007, the NBDB Quality Seal was awarded to “Advanced Algebra, Trigonometry and Statistics” by Phoenix Publishing House Inc., “Growing Up with Math 5” by FNB Educational Inc., “Intermediate Algebra” by JC Palabay Enterprises Inc., “Realistic Math Worktext 3” by Sibs Publishing House Inc., and “XP Advanced Algebra, Trigonometry & Statistics” by Vibal Publishing House. They were primarily recognized for the excellence of their content.

4. Inclusion of Content Development in the Investments Priority Plan (“IPP”)

In 2008, the NBDB was able to include as a priority investment area the printing, publication and content development of books and textbooks. This means that incentives may now be awarded to those publishers who prioritize the improvement of the quality of their outputs, such as investing in research and development of textbooks. We hope that the end result of this effort is to be able to provide the public with quality books at low costs.

5. Training and Development Programs

We are also constantly conducting training and development programs for potential and current textbook writers to better equip them in their quest to produce better textbooks. We have conducted such programs with the Manila Archdiocesan and Parochial School Association – member schools in 2004, with the participation of 275 teachers.

In 2007, with the Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP), the NBDB held a two-day seminar on developing quality instructional materials.

In a conference held in Cebu with the University of San Carlos, titled “Publishing 101 Academic Seminar,” with more than one hundred participants, the NBDB thoroughly discussed the process of coming out with quality manuscripts for both academic journals and books with various stakeholders in higher educational institutions in the Visayas, particularly Cebu.

Furthermore, we have included in our Booklatan sa Bayan a seminar for the development of textbooks and the importance of research and development for those partner institutions who have specifically asked for this module. Thus, we have also conducted this in Bicol University (Legaspi City), Central Philippine University (Iloilo City), Western Visayas College of Science and Technology (Iloilo City), Philippine College of Aeronautics and Aviation (Pasay City), and De La Salle – Lipa City, with over a hundred participants benefitting from the textbook writing training.

Of course, there are no easy solutions to the problem of error-filled textbooks. The NBDB has always maintained that private schools and the industry must exercise self-regulation and exact the highest standards in their purchase and production of textbooks. Private schools, ideally, should have an adequate screening system that carefully evaluates the books they ask parents to purchase for their children. If the schools themselves evaluate these books before prescribing them to parents, then the publishers will be forced to produce textbooks of better quality knowing that there will be no market for substandard books. Perhaps, with pressure exerted by government, parents, and teachers, both schools and publishers will adhere to the high standards Filipino children deserve.

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