Schoolbooks from hell

Mon, 04/09/2007 - 00:00

reprinted from South China Morning Post, October 28 2004

There were 15 Roman emperors in all of history. Jews are often discriminated against because of their traditions, such as killing Germans, and fish breathe through lungs. These are just a few examples of the fascinating assertions in Philippine school textbooks - things you have probably never heard before, and for good reason: they are terribly, stupidly wrong.

Exactly how wrong was recently exposed by Antonio Calipjo Go, a private-school official so incensed by errors in government-approved textbooks that he took out a newspaper advert pointing them out. Far from being shamed, some of the authors retorted that Mr Go had "fabricated" the errors or quoted "out of context". Frankly, it is hard to spot the context in the statement, made in one book for high schools, that the Great Wall of China is 272km long. Or that a sitar is a musical instrument whose strings are made of teakwood. According to one book, Asians are among the poorest people in the world because they do not believe in Jesus.

Textbook publishing is a lucrative business, with contracts running into the hundreds of millions of pesos. The Philippine Centre for Investigative Journalism has reported that the industry is mired in corruption, with publishers paying off education department officials to get books approved. In this kickback environment, nobody cares what gets printed.

As a result, schoolchildren come home full of "facts" that will only ever be useful in a Quiz Show From Hell. According to one 400-page history book, Jews are the most fortunate people in the world. And the (Catholic Counter-Reformation) Council of Trent created an index of banned books, one of which was the Bible. Also, Asians are among the poorest people in the world because they do not believe in Jesus.

The Department of Education, which initially derided Mr Go, has now admitted there might be at least "one major error" in one textbook. But it refuses to recall 1.14 million copies of the 316-page book which Mr Go cited that has 431 mistakes.

And officials say they are at a loss about how to punish the textbook writers - apparently there is no law against poisoning students' minds. The publishers themselves have kept quiet. One did say that as far as it was concerned, the government had bought the books, and that was that.

Nobody actually seems to care what sort of imbeciles the schools using these textbooks are producing. Four years ago, one book was identified as being so full of errors that the publisher burned 1 million pesos (HK$138,00) worth of the edition. Before it did so, it was approached by one senator who asked if she could have the copies to donate to schools.

Clearly, there is a long and bitter struggle ahead in Mr Go's crusade, which, as every student here knows, is a holy war waged by Buddhists.



Submitted by Trisha (not verified) on
mr. alan robles, before you let your publisher published this tidbits of yours, you should have done your research very carefully. Because all the errors Go was "exposing" in his "crusade" are all OUT OF CONTEXT. As part of the so-called powerful media, you should also be a responsible media. You should also look into what does Go gets from exposing these things in the media. For all you know people are just enriching themselves.

Submitted by alan on
Out of context? Really? That's wonderful Trisha, perhaps you can inform all of us. Pray tell, just what is &quot;out of context&quot; in saying there were only 15 Roman emperors in history, or that a sitar is an instrument whose strings are made out of wood. Perhaps the correct context is that these are textbooks for loony tune students?<br />I'd take your advice to do &quot;research very carefully&quot; except for two things:<br />1. I DID do my research carefully<br />2. You haven't done any research at all. Have you even read the PCIJ report on the massive corruption involved in textbook contracts? Have you been following the news reports? Or are you just pulling all of your so-called &quot;information&quot; out of some magic hole?<br />I beg to be corrected. But with facts please.

Submitted by nadia (not verified) on
there should be a law imprisoning publishers and authors of these text books. Sales of these kinds of books are not limited to public schools. Small private schools, in their bid to earn more, buy &quot;Reject&quot; school books (full of factual, typo errors) and sell them to their students at a huge mark up, often times informing parents that these never heard of publishing houses are in fact printing textbooks much more informative than those of the leading publishing houses.

Submitted by trisha (not verified) on
my dear allan, if you indeed made a research for this article then, your research is not enough. have you seen the books yourself? have you consulted a REAL expert of the field? kain ka pa ng maraming bigas.

Submitted by alan on
DarlingTrasha I wonder what passes for "research" in the planet you live in? Maybe the planet where you are one of those making a lot of money from defective textbooks? Anyway you're always free to share what you know, which is assuming you really know something. Baka naman isa ka sa nakinabang, baka isa ka doon sa laos na manunulat ng pekeng textbook? Siguro marami kang nakain na bigas

Submitted by Giancarlo Dizon (not verified) on
These articles are few of the reasons Mr. Go continues his crusade against Philippine's defective textbook. If not for such pledges of faith, he would have given up a long time ago. I am thanking Mr. Alan Robles in Mr. Go's behalf.<br />PS: this trisha person is one of the many factors that impedes patriotic civilians such as Mr. Go and yourself. I'm afraid she may be one of the many products of such defective textbooks she so fervently upholds. i pity her.

Submitted by zantha (not verified) on
Ms. Trisha, before you start hurling accusations at anyone, please check what you have written for correct grammar:<br />correction: &quot;mr. alan robles, before you let your publisher PUBLISH (not published) THESE (not this) tidbits of yours, you should DO (not have done) your research very carefully.&quot;<br />correction: As part of the so-called powerful media, you should also be a responsible MEMBER OF THE MEDIA (not media). <br />correction: You should also look into what does Go GET (not gets) from exposing these things in the media. <br />People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. I daresay that your poor grammar is the result of poorly constructed textbooks which taught you erroneous rules. Thus, in your writing, you have a lot of grammatical errors.<br />I laud the efforts of Mr. Go in attempting to improve our school textbooks. Please enlighten me, Ms. Trisha, how does one enrich himself by doing the thankless job of seeking to improve our educational materials?<br />I also laud the efforts of Mr. Alan Robles in writing such an article, to put pressure on the Department of Education to improve our educational materials and system.

Submitted by China (not verified) on
Ha ha. Imagine the stupidity of a nation willing to allow its children to grow up ignorant just for the sake of money. Antonio Calipjo Go is a true hero. Come to China sir, we will make you welcome in our schools.

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