SONA 2022 Promise Tracker


The Philippine education sector has long faced hurdles, which the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated. At the top of these are students’ job-readiness, access to quality education especially in remote areas, and access to learning technologies.

The Department of Education (DepEd) would need P25 billion a year in the next three to five years to recover from the setbacks students and teachers have suffered since 2020, Education Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said last December.

In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. breezed through the education sector, identifying only five general changes he wanted to implement for learners and teachers in the country. This is a task Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio took on as Education secretary.

Six months after Duterte-Carpio was named concurrently as DepEd chief, she zeroed in on several pain points that students and teachers suffer under the current state of Philippine basic education. “Filipino learners are not academically proficient,” Duterte-Carpio said in late January, when she presented DepEd’s Basic Education Report 2023.

The report underscored the need to upskill both students and teachers and to build more “calamity-proof” school buildings. The Education secretary explained that only 32%, or 104,536 out of 327,851 school buildings in the country, are in “good condition” and that over 17,000 classrooms need to be built in the wake of the damage from Typhoon Odette in December 2021.

“Oftentimes, Filipino learners experience emotional abuse and exhaustion. Some Filipino learners suffer from psychological fatigue. And being academically insecure, many of them may fail to meet the standards of the demanding and competitive world. These are caused and triggered by conditions present at home, in our communities, and even in our schools as a result of problems ingrained in our system,” explained Duterte-Carpio.

She  stressed the need to draft new curricula that are inclusive for all learners, including those with disabilities, and can improve students’ job-readiness.

However, aside from brick-and-mortar progress, the DepEd is setting its eyes on the digitization of the education sector. For this reason, the agency increased its target beneficiaries for its computerization program from 44,569 schools to 59,090 schools for 2022.

By the end of 2023, it aims for full distribution of information and communication technology packages to all target schools. Each package contains at least 46 laptops, one smart television, one wireless router, and two charging carts in Regions I, IV-B (MIMAROPA), VIII, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

Here’s how the president fared in his promises on education, as seen in strides DepEd took over the last year:

Return to face-to-face classes “with utmost consideration for the safety of students”

“In the educational sector, I believe it is time for our children to return to full face-to-face classes once again. The Department of Education, led by our highly able Vice President Sara Duterte, [applause] is now preparing for its implementation in the upcoming school year, with utmost consideration for the safety of students, as we are still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

  • The DepEd mandated public and private schools to hold face-to-face classes starting Nov. 2, 2022, citing “several studies” that point to the “undisputable fact” that in-person classes remain the best learning option for students.
  • In doing so, the agency released on Sept. 19, 2022 updated guidelines on public health and safety protocols for the academic year 2022- 2023.
  • It implemented a “no-discrimination” policy on students and faculty members, regardless of their vaccination status. All were mandated to wear face masks in enclosed spaces such as classrooms and laboratories.
  • School health and nutrition personnel shall likewise encourage teachers and non-teaching personnel to have at least three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • DepEd made masking optional for schools a day before the official start of classes following Marcos’ executive order on making masking indoors and outdoors voluntary.
Review viability of K-12 school system

“There have also been lengthy discussions on the continuation and viability of the K to 12 school system. We are giving this a careful review, and all necessary inputs and points of view are now being considered.”

  • DepEd announced on May 11 the start of its year-long review of the K-12 curriculum, through the creation of a task force to assess the implementation of the senior high school program.
  • The task force will review existing program policies and relevance of curricula to improve the employability of graduates.
  • The task force is due to submit its accomplishment report to Duterte-Carpio on May 12, 2024.
  • However, DepEd reported on July 11 that it is ready to launch the “decongested” version of the K-10 curriculum, set to ease burden on learners who previously would have to show mastery on a range of subjects in one school year.
Institute refresher courses and re-trainings for teachers

“In the longer term, we are instituting a program of refresher courses and re-trainings for our teachers so they can stay abreast of the rapid growth in technology, especially in this post-pandemic world.”

  • Duterte-Carpio said in her Basic Education Report that the  department is improving the capacity of school teachers and leaders. She reported that:
    • 226,367 teachers and school leaders underwent capacity development initiatives.
    • 15,331 educators and school leaders received graduate scholarships.
    • 17,636 teachers for kindergarten to grade 3 were trained to enhance teaching methods and skills in assessing an early learner’s reading and numeracy skills.
    • 161,700 teachers completed teaching courses, supported by the National Educators’ Academy of the Philippines, an attached agency to DepEd mandated to hone the professional development of educators.
  • In September 2022, DepEd set up a technical working group to oversee the agency’s National Education Portal. It aims to introduce new features to the portal which will allow collaboration among students, and promptly address accessibility issues and security vulnerabilities.
Get rid of of educational materials and school supplies of poor quality

“As for the ‘horror’ stories that we have heard about the poor quality of educational materials and supplies that are being given to our schools — this must end!”

  • The Teachers Dignity Coalition — an advocacy group for educators — reported in September 2022 that public school teachers received outdated and poorly-performing laptops from the DepEd.
  • In November 2022, the agency created a team to review its evaluation and procurement processes for textbooks, teaching manuals and other learning resources used in public schools. VERA Files reached out to DepEd’s Bureau of Learning Resources to comment when it plans to conclude its review. It has yet to respond to our questions.
Provide internet and electronic devices so children can participate fully in the digital community and abroad

“Children now need connectivity to the internet; they need devices to use; they need computers, educational tools [applause] so that they might participate fully in the digital community here and abroad.”

  • DepEd partnered with the National Development Company and ABC Tech Ventures, Inc. in May to provide tablets for school children. The partnership aims to limit the use of physical textbooks and merge them into one device, with parental controls to keep children from accessing inappropriate content online.
  • Preliminary data from DepEd showed that as of May 2023, at least 38,194 schools have received learning resources out of the 44,984 targeted for 2022. These resources are worksheets, self-learning modules, and devices like tablets and smartphones used for the adopted learning delivery mode in public schools.
    • Central Visayas and Central Mindanao achieved full distribution to all 6,014 target schools in the regions.
  • The CAR (4,048 beneficiaries) and Western Visayas (1,844 beneficiaries) exceeded their target number of school beneficiaries.
    • Region IV-A (CALABARZON) showed the lowest distribution rate to target schools, with only 30% or 1,071 out of 3,545 school beneficiaries reached.

Find out how Marcos Jr. fared in other sectors

Have you seen any dubious claims, photos, memes, or online posts that you want us to verify? Fill out this reader request form or send it to VERA, the truth bot on Viber.

CNN Philippines, Expert: Education woes didn’t happen overnight, Aug. 16, 2022

Asian Development Bank, Here’s How Pandemic School Closures Worsen Asia’s Educational Divide, July 7, 2022

CNN Philippines, Solon: K to 12 not producing enough job-ready graduates, April 27, 2023

Asian Journal of Distance Education, Difficulties in Remote Learning: Voices of Philippine University Students in the Wake of COVID-19 Crisis, 2020

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Situation Analysis on the Effects of And Responses to COVID-19 on the Education Sector in Southeast Asia: Sub-regional Report, October 2021

Business World Online, Fix for education setbacks during pandemic expected to cost P25B each year, Dec. 12, 2022

Business World Online, Sara to be named Education chief, May 11, 2022

CNN Philippines, Sara Duterte to become DepEd chief under Marcos admin, May 11, 2022

ABS-CBN News, Sara Duterte agreed to become education secretary: Marcos, May 11, 2022

Department of Education (DepEd) Official Facebook Page, Basic Education Report 2023, Jan. 30, 2023

Office of the Vice President of the Philippines, Basic Education Report 2023 Speech, Jan. 30, 2023

Department of Education (DepEd), Department Order No. 78, s. 2010, June 1, 2010

DepEd Region I, Regional Memorandum No. 1191, s. 2022, Oct. 17, 2022

DepEd MIMAROPA, Division Memorandum No. 000385, Oct. 17, 2022


DepEd CAR, Regional Memorandum No. 514, s. 2022, Oct. 17, 2022

On return to face-to-face classes

On review of K-12 school system viability

On instituting refresher courses

On ending poor quality of educational materials

On internet and electronic connectivity

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)