The significance of Research on Education
By Dr. Lida R. Alcantara Education Program Supervisor Sorsogon Province Division THE recent presentation of the research results by Regional Education Program Supervisor (EPS) Joan Lagata entitled “Gains and Gaps of Special Education (SPED) Program in Region V” showed two important things: the significance of research in education and the status of special education in the region. I wish to discuss both briefly. First, on the significance of research, especially in education. Research is defined as the “diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover, validate or revise facts, theories, applications, etc.” Basically, its purpose is to discover things that could help us make informed decisions and actions to improve not only teaching techniques, methodologies, programs or policies but the even the entire education system. Research provides us with actionable facts and figures which would guide not only us, at the lower echelon of the organization, but up to the highest level of the hierarchy. Without research, there would hardly be concrete basis for the formulation of policies, guidelines, orders and memos that would guide us in the field down to the classroom level. Official actions and decisions must be based on concrete facts and evidences. One education dean said that without research, our education would be in danger as it would be solely based on either dogma, ideology, credo, theory, prejudice or convenience. Research is empirical. One other important thing is that research studies are not rigid. In fact, there is what is called “Iteration” or iterative process of research. It is the process of revisiting the research method, questions and data which may lead to new ideas, revisions or improvements. However, the conduct of research studies do not always guarantee actions. There had been instances wherein research results were set aside by policy and decision-makers on account of their own biases and prejudices. Others set aside study results due to the personal perceptions of those who are in position to make things happen, which would eventually impact on the system especially on situations wherein the decision-making is so centralized. One “anti-dote” to this disheartening situation is the publication or public presentation of the research results especially on multiple venues, if necessary. It would attract public attention which would compel gate-keepers to act on the matter. That is, if the decision-makers are averse, and antagonistic, to the study. But, luckily, in the case of the Department of Education-Bicol, we are so lucky to have, not only enthusiastic but overly supportive management led by Regional Director Ramon Fiel Abcede and Assistant Regional Director Tolentino Aquino. The recent study of EPS Lagata delved on the current state of the SPED program which eventually showed to us its weak and strong points. We have to thank EPS Lagata for painstakingly conducting the study despite the fact that Special Education is not really part of her tasks. Through her effort we now have a good picture of the true state of the SPED program in our region. Of the many findings presented during the public presentation, two were of utmost significance for me. One is the lack of SPED teachers and two, the very low number of SPED learners enrolled in various SPED schools in the region. First, on the insufficient number of SPED teachers. This puts the SPED program in a precarious situation owing to the fact that learners with exceptionalities have special needs thus require special skills for those handling them. As EPS Lagata pointed out during her presentation, “the basic qualifications required of SPED teachers are significant as they would be dealing with diverse exceptionalities that have specific needs”. Placing these learners under non-SPED teachers not only puts both the learners and the teachers in an unideal and stressful situation. Secondly, as a consequence of the insufficient number of SPED teachers, school administrators are adamant to admit learners with exceptionalities. In fact, as shown by the study, there is a huge difference between the numbers of elementary learners as compared to those who pursue secondary SPED. The research author attributed this to the apprehension by school administrators that special learners might flock to them if they would actively campaign for their enrolment given the fact that they do not have enough SPED teachers. This situation focuses on the basic concern of program: the need for enough SPED teacher items. And luckily, we have a benefactor and ardent supporter of education present during the public presentation in the person of Congw. Evelina Escudero (First District-Sorsogon) who committed to push for the creation of more SPED items and to discuss with DepEd Sec. Leonor Briones the study findings. With all these, we can happily look forward to a more improved SPED program implementation in the region soon, and maybe in the entire country.