The realm of tertiary education in the country is plagued with an unprecedented problem that threatens the very foundation of academic excellence and intellectual growth. It stems from a systemic failure long before students set foot on college campuses–from the elementary and high school classrooms, under the shadow of that controversial policy: “No one left behind.” While the intention behind this policy might have been noble, its implementation gave birth to a generation of students who are ill-equipped for the rigors of higher education.

It’s an alarming reality that many students entering tertiary institutions in the Philippines lack fundamental literacy and comprehension skills. This deficiency is not a result of their shortcomings but rather a flawed educational approach that prioritizes quantity over quality. DepEd’s “no one left behind” mantra, while aiming to promote inclusivity, has inadvertently set students up for failure by advancing them through the ranks regardless of their academic readiness.

As these inadequately prepared students enter tertiary education, they grapple with coursework and materials beyond their comprehension. Professors are left to pick up the pieces, attempting to bridge the chasm between what students should know and what they understand. The burden falls not only on educators but also on the integrity of the entire tertiary education system, which is forced to adapt to accommodate the deficiencies inherited from earlier stages of schooling.

Moreover, the repercussions of DepEd’s policy extend far beyond the confines of academia. In a knowledge-based economy where competitiveness is paramount, a workforce lacking in foundational skills poses a significant threat to national progress and development. The inability to read, comprehend, and analyze critically hampers innovation, stifles productivity, and perpetuates a cycle of mediocrity that undermines the country’s potential for growth.

In essence, DepEd’s “no one left behind” policy, while well-intentioned, has become a hindrance to the very educational advancement it seeks to promote. By neglecting to address the root causes of academic underperformance and instead opting for a superficial solution of mass promotion, the education system has failed both its students and the nation at large. If left unaddressed, this crisis will continue to reverberate through generations, perpetuating a cycle of educational inadequacy and hindering the country’s ability to compete on a global scale.

To mitigate this crisis, urgent reforms are needed at both the policy and implementation levels. DepEd must reassess its approach to student advancement, prioritizing quality education over arbitrary metrics of inclusivity. Additionally, investment in teacher training and support is needed to ensure that educators have the tools and resources necessary to address the diverse needs of their students effectively. Furthermore, collaboration between DepEd and tertiary institutions is essential to bridge the gap between secondary and higher education. This includes the development of remedial programs and support structures to help incoming students acquire the skills they need to succeed academically.

The future of tertiary education in the Philippines hinges on the ability of policymakers, educators, and stakeholders to confront the realities of academic underpreparedness head-on. By dismantling the flawed paradigm of “no one left behind” and embracing a more effective approach to educational advancement, the Philippines can pave the way for a brighter and more prosperous future for generations to come.