New K+12 program comes under fire

New K+12 program comes under fire

Thursday, 07 October 2010 00:00
Efren L. Danao, Llanesca T. Panti and Francis Earl A. Cueto

The enhanced K+12 program came under fire on Wednesday, a day after it was unveiled by the Department of Education (DepEd), with Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd among the first to criticize it. But there were a few who also voiced their support for the proposal.

“The second-year college student today is as unemployed as the high-school graduate, not because of any lack of intelligence or skill but because our economy cannot generate enough jobs,” Sotto said in a privileged speech.

He added that the enhanced K+12 would burden parents even more. He also doubted whether the government could provide enough funds for the additional two years considering that the national budget is unable to fund the number of years in the basic education system at present.

The senator said that pre-school is a fact of life this past decade and that children have entered school much earlier than usual.

“In a way, we have had our own version already of K+12 without institutionalizing it,” Sotto noted.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro has proposed an additional two years in high school, which will be made up of four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school. He said that this is the world standard and that other countries are downgrading Filipino professionals upon learning that they had undergone only a total of 10 years of basic education.

Sotto rejected that the Philippines is being left behind because it has only 10 years of basic education. He pointed out that thousands of South Koreans come to the Philippines to learn and study English.

“Foreign students compete with our students for precious space in nursing and medicine courses,” he said.
He contended that the Philippines must educate its young the way it sees fit, not the way the world sees fit.

But Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said that the enhanced K+12 is needed for the Philippines to be globally competitive.

“We are under-rated by other countries because of our education system. It [adding two more years] is painful for others, but for the country, we have to do it. It is the future of the country. We have to find the money,” he added.

Enrile said it is a problem that parents used to 10 years of basic education do not want the proposed change.
“That is the problem. We do not want to change course even when it is necessary,” he added.

Groups criticize proposal

A group of students and parents greeted the official launch of the government’s 12-year basic education program with words of protest.

League of Filipino Students (LFS) National Chairman Terry Ridon said the enhanced K+12 program won’t work until the overall quality of education is improved.

The students said that a bigger budget should be allocated to education to fix the currrent system that is plagued by problems like lack of classrooms, laboratories and teachers.

The Kabataan party-list said that adding the two years to the curriculum will only yield “more problems.”

“The move to add two years to basic education will not answer the country’s declining quality of education, the growing number of out-of-school youth, nor will it lift the country’s employment rate,” the group said in a statement.

They added that the enhanced K-12 will not solve the high rate of unemployment, especially among the youth.

“Instead of adding years, the government must focus on measures aimed at increasing state spending on education, stopping unjust tuition and other fee increases in all levels, promoting a nationalist curriculum, upholding democratic rights of students, improving teachers’ welfare and improving science, research and technology development,” the group added.

House opposition

In the House of Representatives, Rep. Antonio Tinio of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list said that the Education department and the Aquino administration are not in a position to propose the addition of two more years to the basic education curriculum because they cannot even provide enough funding for the education sector.

Tinio, a former teacher, said that the Education department would need P149 billion in 2011 alone to address the shortage of classrooms, teachers and textbooks, and that the hiring of 10,000 teachers every year is not enough to keep up with the rapidly growing population.

“I can’t see this problem being addressed in the next few years,” he added.

The government, Tinio said, should instead come up with a solution on how to increase the number of Filipino students finishing high school, considering that only 43 out of 100 children who enter Grade 1 become high school graduates.

But for the chairman of the House Committee on Basic Education, Rep. Salvador Escudero 3rd of Sorsogon, the addition of two years to the basic curriculum is worthy of support if certain college courses will also be shortened.

He said that in other countries, veterinary medicine is only a four-year course while students of the same course in the Philippines would need seven
years to obtain their degree.

Escudero, a doctor of veterinary medicine, added that a medical student in the Philippines will have to finish the course in 13 to 14 years, which is longer compared with other countries where medical students can become doctors in seven years.

Escudero’s sentiments were shared by Rep. Rodolfo Biazon of Muntinlupa City.

“I will agree to the additional one year in high school if the reason of the DepEd is to prepare the graduating high school students to face life as if they are not going to college anymore,” Biazon said.

The Education department announced the enhanced K+12 program on Tuesday to coincide with World Teachers’ Day.

The program is broken down into six years of elementary school, four years of junior high school, and two years of senior high school. The department plans to implement the new education cycle in phases, beginning in 2012.