By ERIKA CALEJA
Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Armin Luistro is determined in pushing the K+12 (Kinder plus 12 years) program, which is also called the K-6-4-2 model. This would result in one year “Universal Kindergarten”, six years of elementary education, four years of junior high school that will be known as Grades 7 to 10, and another two years in senior high school that eventually will be called Grades 11 to 12. DepEd said the additional two years in high school intends to provide time for students to consolidate acquired academic skills and competencies.
This school year 2011-2012 DepEd will implement the “Universal Kindergarten” that refers to the 5-year old cohort who undergoes a standardized kinder curriculum. And by SY 2012-2013, the new curriculum will be offered to incoming Grade 1, as well as to incoming junior high school students, while the additional curriculum for senior high school will be offered on SY 2016-2017.
DepEd said with the K+12 program the graduates will possess competencies and skills relevant to the job market, making them prepared for higher education and thus giving them the opportunity to earn a higher wage, plus the advantage of being recognized abroad. DepEd also said that the Philippines is the only remaining country in Asia with a 10-year pre university program. However, Rep. Salvador Escudero, chairman of the Congressional Committee on basic Education and Culture “Filipinos are the most educated poorest country in the world”.
According to Secretary Armin Luistro, DepEd has a total budget of P207.3 billion for the year 2011 compare to 2010 with P175 billion. The additional budget, he said, would be allocated to the construction of at least 9,000 classrooms, seats, sanitation facilities and for the creation of 10,000 teacher items. The Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture Chairman Sen. Edgardo Angara said, “There is a dramatic dismal state in the country so this is an urgent action (in education).” He also added that the country is in the midst of an economic and political crisis but has been able to put efforts on education, through DepEd’s program K+12.
“If we were to fix education, we would be able to fix the long term problems of the Philippines,” DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro said.
But according to League of Filipino Students (LFS) chairman Terry Ridon, the budget of the government for the year 2011 is insufficient to sustain a “full blown” program such as K+12. He added that the additional two years in high school and the mandatory “Universal Kindergarten” is not the answer if Pres. Aquino is truly interested in fixing the education system. He also said that there is a big gap that the government must fill in order to achieve significant changes in the education system. aAside from lack of funds, there are also a lack of facilities and infrastructures in basic public education, and that increasing it further to two more years with no ample amount of budget is not enough.
K+12 = reinforcing LEP
The pursuit of the 12-year education program has received both praise and criticisms from different sectors. Several legislators, including Senators Edgardo Angara and Juan Ponce Enrile, as well as Representatives Salvador Escudero III, and Juan Edgardo Angara have supported the addition of two more years. On the other hand, other organizations including Kabataan party-list and League of Filipino Students expressed concerns about the two-year increase in basic education.
“We are against the program of the Aquino government because the mere purpose of K+12 is to create a generation of educated youth who are immediately deployable for labor export,” LFS Chairman Terry Ridon said.
Ridon also stressed that K+12 program of DepEd is not yet needed in the system of education in the country. Instead, he said, there is a need to train students to become experts to serve our own economy and not to work abroad. He added that DepEd should concentrate on creating infrastructures while maintaining and developing the current 10-year program.
He said that if the program can truly help a lot of students to get a job and will eventually produce employment for a nationalized industry in our own country, then it is alright but he said that, “It is clear that this is being done, this is being designed precisely to develop immediately employable youth locally and not to become underpaid workers in a foreign land.”
“The plan for K+12 is not to provide higher education opportunities to the youth, but merely to create an army of semi-skilled labor for immediate employment abroad,” Ridon added.
Quality or quantity
Ridon also stressed that, it is the quality and not the quantity of education that matters right now. He said all parents want to give their children an education, but not all parents are agreeable to the additional two years in high school education especially those from the marginalized sectors.
“Previous generations do not undergo the plus two in basic education, but they are completely fine in terms of employment,” Ridon added.
He also added that the government should focus its attention in addressing the current dismal state of basic education and try not to embark on an experiment that can be easily solved within 10-years time.