Department of Education

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The Department of Education (DepEd; Filipino: Kagawaran ng Edukasyon) is the executive department of the Philippine government tasked with ensuring access to, promoting equity in, and improving the quality of basic education.[1] It is the main government agency responsible for managing and governing the system of basic education in the Philippines. It is the primary maker of Philippine education policy and responsible for the Philippine primary and secondary school systems. Its headquarters are at the DepEd Complex in Meralco Avenue, Pasig.

The department is led by the secretary of education, who is nominated by the president of the Philippines and confirmed by the Commission on Appointments. Being in the executive branch of the government, the secretary is a member of the cabinet. The current secretary of education is Leonor Briones.


Spanish Period

During the early Spanish colonial period, education in the Philippines was religion-oriented and accessible mostly to the elite. Access to education by Filipinos eventually became broader through the enactment of the Educational Decree of 1863, which saw the establishment of at least one primary school for boys and girls in each town under the responsibility of the municipal government, and the establishment of a normal school for male teachers under the supervision of the Jesuits. Primary instruction was free and secular, and Spanish was a compulsory subject. This decree also provided for the establishment of the Superior Commission of Primary Instruction, the seminal agency that would later on become the Department of Education.

By 1898, when the Spanish colonial rule ended after the United States took over and, simultaneously, Emilio Aguinaldo's First Philippine Republic was established, the schools maintained by Spain for more than three centuries were closed temporarily. They were reopened on August 29, 1898 by the Secretary of the Interior of the revolutionary government. The Malolos Constitution, under Article 23, established a system of free and compulsory elementary education. However, when the Philippine-American War broke out in 1899, this first sovereign education system was interrupted and ultimately dismantled.

American Period

In 1900, the Schurman Commission recommended the establishment of a secularized and free public school system during the first decade of American rule in the country. The Taft Commission, as instructed by President Wiliam McKinley, enforced free primary instruction, which trained the people on the duties of citizenship. Chaplains and non-commissioned officers worked as teachers and used English as the medium of instruction.

The Taft Commission, by virtue of Act No. 74, established a highly centralized public school system in January 1901. The act also created the Department of Public Instruction, headed by a general superintendent. The implementation of this act led to an immense shortage of teachers, so the Philippine Commission authorized the superintendent of public instruction to enlist 500 teachers from the United States to the Philippines. They would later be popularly known as the Thomasites.

In 1908, the Philippine Legislature approved Act No. 1870, which instituted the University of the Philippines.

The Organic Act of 1916 reorganized the Department of Public Instruction, with a secretary henceforth heading the agency. This act also mandated the Filipinization of department secretaries except the secretary of public instruction.

World War II saw another reorganization of the department, through the Japanese's Military Order No. 2 in February 1942. This plit the department into the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Public Instruction. Under the Japanese, the teaching of Tagalog, Philippine history, and character education was prioritized. Virtues such as love for work and the dignity of labor were also given emphasis.

In October 1944, months after President Manuel L. Quezon's death, the department was renamed Department of Public Instruction and Information, with Carlos P. Romulo as its head. When the Commonwealth government resumed in February 1945, the department’s name was changed to Department of Instruction.

In 1947, by virtue of Executive Order No. 94 by Pres. Manuel Roxas, the department was reorganized as the Department of Education. During this period, the regulation and supervision of public and private schools were within the purview of the Bureau of Public and Private Schools.

Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS)

Upon the start of Martial Law in September 1972, the department became the Department of Education and Culture. It was subsequently renamed Ministry of Education and Culture in June 1978 by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 1397 following the shift to a parliamentary system of government. Thirteen regional offices were created and major organizational changes were implemented in the educational system during this reorganization.

The Education Act of 1982 created the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, which eventually became the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) in 1987 via Executive Order No. 117 by President Corazon C. Aquino.

The structure of DECS as embodied in EO 117 practically remained unchanged until 1994, when the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) was established  to supervise tertiary degree programs, and on August 25, 1994, when the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) was established to supervise non-degree technical-vocational programs. The trifocal education system refocused the department's mandate to basic education which covers elementary, secondary and non-formal education, including culture and sports. CHED is responsible for tertiary education, while TESDA now administers the post-secondary, middle-level manpower training and development.


With the passing of the Governance of Basic Education Act in August 2001, the DECS was renamed Department of Education (DepEd). The act also redefined the role of field offices, which include regional offices, division offices, district offices, and schools.

The act removed the administration of cultural and sports activities from the department. The National Historical Institute, Records Management and Archives Office, and the National Library are now administratively attached to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). All previous functions, programs, and activities related to sports competition were moved to the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC). In addition, the Bureau of Physical Education and School Sports was abolished.

List of Secretaries of Education

# Name Term Began Term Ended President Period
Under Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo, supervision on schools and basic education was put under the Department of the Interior. First Republic
The Department of Public Instruction was established in January 1901 upon the recommendation of the Taft Commission,with Dr. Fred Atkinson as the first General Superintendent. In 1916, the post was renamed as the Secretary of Public Instruction.The position was held by Americans until the proclamation of the Philippine Commonwealth. Insular Government(American occupation)
Secretaries of Public Instruction Manuel Quezon Commonwealth
1 Sergio Osmeña November 15, 1935 April 18, 1939
2 Jorge Bocobo April 19, 1939 January 22, 1941
Secretary of Public Instruction, Health, and Public Welfare Commonwealth

(in exile)

3 Sergio Osmeña December 24, 1941 August 1, 1944
Secretary of Public Instruction and Information Sergio Osmeña
4 Carlos P. Romulo October 1944 February 1945
Commissioner of Education, Health and Public Welfare N/A Japanese occupation
Claro M. Recto 1942 October 1943
Minister of Education José P. Laurel Second Republic
Camilo Osías October 1943 February 1945
Secretaries of Instruction Sergio Osmeña Commonwealth


5 Maximo Kalaw February 27, 1945 May 4, 1945
6 Jose Reyes May 5, 1945 January 3, 1946
7 Francisco Benitez January 3, 1946 May 27, 1946
8 Manuel Gallego May 28, 1946 July 4, 1946 Manuel A. Roxas
July 4, 1946 October 1947 Third Republic
Secretaries of Education
* Manuel Gallego October 1947 April 17, 1948
April 17, 1948 September 20, 1948 Elpidio Quirino
9 Prudencio Langcauon September 1948 September 13, 1950
10 Pablo Lorenzo September 14, 1950 April 3, 1951
11 Teodoro Evangelista May 18, 1951 September 30, 1951
12 Cecilio Putong April 18, 1952 December 30, 1953
December 30, 1953 January 13, 1954 Ramon Magsaysay
13 Pastor Endencia January 13, 1954 June 30, 1954
14 Gregorio Hernandez, Jr. July 1, 1954 March 28, 1957
15 Martin Aguilar, Jr. March 29, 1957 September 2, 1957 Carlos P. Garcia
16 Manuel Lim September 3, 1957 November 17, 1957
17 Daniel Salcedo November 18, 1957 May 31, 1959
18 Jose E. Romero June 1, 1959 December 30, 1961
December 30, 1961 September 4, 1962 Diosdado Macapagal
19 Jose Tuason September 5, 1962 December 30, 1962
20 Alejandro Roces December 30, 1962 September 7, 1965
21 Carlos P. Romulo December 30, 1965 December 16, 1967 Ferdinand Marcos
Onofre Corpuz (acting) December 17, 1967 April 20, 1971
22 Juan Manuel April 21, 1971 September 23, 1972
Secretary of Education and Culture
* Juan Manuel September 24, 1972 June 1978
Ministers of Education and Culture
* Juan Manuel June 1978 June 1979
23 Onofre Corpuz July 1979 February 1981
February 1981 September 10, 1982 Fourth Republic
Ministers of Education, Culture and Sports
* Onofre Corpuz September 11, 1982 January 1984
24 Jaime C. Laya January 1984 February 1986
Secretaries of Education, Culture and Sports Corazon C. Aquino Fifth Republic
25 Lourdes Quisumbing February 1986 December 1989
26 Isidro Cariño January 3, 1990 June 30, 1992
27 Armand Fabella July 1, 1992 July 6, 1994 Fidel V. Ramos
28 Ricardo Gloria July 7, 1994 December 1997
29 Erlinda Pefianco February 2, 1998 June 30, 1998
30 Bro. Andrew Gonzalez, FSC, Ph.D. July 1, 1998 January 22, 2001 Joseph Ejercito Estrada
31 Raul Roco January 22, 2001 August 10, 2001 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Secretaries of Education
* Raul S. Roco August 11, 2001 August 2002
32 Edilberto de Jesus September 2002 August 2004
33 Florencio Abad September 24, 2004 July 8, 2005
Ramon Bacani (OIC) July 8, 2005 August 30, 2005
Fe A. Hidalgo (OIC) August 31, 2005 October 3, 2006
34 Jesli A. Lapus October 4, 2006 March 15, 2010
35 Mona D. Valisno March 15, 2010 June 30, 2010
36 Bro. Armin A. Luistro, FSC June 30, 2010 June 30, 2016 Benigno S. Aquino III
37 Leonor Magtolis Briones June 30, 2016 Incumbent Rodrigo Roa Duterte

Organizational structure

At present, the Department is headed by the Secretary of Education, with the following undersecretaries and assistant secretaries:

  • Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction
  • Undersecretary for Administration
  • Undersecretary for Planning Service and Field Operations
  • Undersecretary for Finance
  • Undersecretary for Legislative Affairs, External Partnerships and School Sports
  • Undersecretary for Legal Affairs
  • Undersecretary for Field Operations, Employee Welfare, Personnel and DEACO
  • Undersecretary/Chief of Staff
  • Assistant Secretary for Curriculum and Instruction
  • Assistant Secretary for Finance-BPM and Procurement
  • Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs
  • Assistant Secretary for Alternative Learning System

Under the Office of the Secretary are the following offices and services:

  • Teacher Education Council
  • Literacy Coordinating Council
  • Internal Audit Service

A director is assigned to each of the 17 regions of the Philippines; the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (Bangsamoro) (BARRM) is governed by a regional minister. A division superintendent is assigned to each of the school divisions defined by the department.

Bureaus and services

DepEd is composed of 18 bureaus and services:[2]

  • Administrative Service (AS)
  • Bureau of Curriculum Development (BCD)
  • Bureau of Education Assessment (BEA)
  • Bureau of Human Resources and Organizational Development (BHROD)
  • Bureau of Learning Delivery (BLD)
  • Bureau of Learning Resources (BLR)
  • Bureau of Learner Support Service (BLSS)
  • Bureau of Secondary Education (BSE)
  • Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS)
  • External Partnerships Service (EPS)
  • Finance Service (FS)
  • Information and Communications Technology Service (ICTS)
  • Legal Service (LS)
  • National Educators' Academy of the Philippines (NEAP)
  • Planning Service (PS)
  • Procurement Service (PROCS)
  • Project Management Service (PMS)
  • Public Affairs Service (PAS)

Attached agencies

The following agencies, councils and schools are attached to DepEd for policy and program coordination:

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is now attached to the Office of the President, while the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is now attached to the Department of Trade and Industry.