“The K12 aims to produce cheaper, more ‘exploitable’ labor. The program is meant to ensure more ‘semi-skilled’ youths enter the labor force as early as 18 years old, which will make the unemployment problem worse.” – Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The law mandating 12 years of basic education has finally signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III on Wednesday, May 15. This despite reports of lack of modules and trainings for teachers as well as lack of classrooms, chairs, books and also teachers.
The RA 10533 or Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 also known as K-to-12 Act formalizes the additional two years to the previous 10-year basic education curriculum. It also mandates five year old children to enter Kindergarten before enrolling to grade one. The inclusion of kindergarten, grades one and seven was already implemented in the past school year even without a law.
The Department of Education has said it is currently preparing for the full implementation of K to 12 in 2016. In school year 2012-2013, the curriculums for grades one and seven were rolled out. By June of this year (school year 2013-2014), the curriculum for grades two and eight will be introduced.
Meanwhile, different groups have opposed the government’s implementation of the K to 12 since the beginning.
The College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) said the implementation of the law is a burden to students, teachers and parents with the additional two years of basic education.
The Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) fears that the number of school drop outs would increase.
“Mothers and parents could barely afford to send their children to school. And this is not just about making sure that no fees are collected this is also about parents needing to scrounge for their children’s food and transportation expenses. To add two more years in the basic education is not the solution. Many parents are already having difficulties sending their children to school,” said GWP Representative Emmi De Jesus adding that out of 100 children who enter grade one, only 14 finish grade six.
The Kabataan Partylist said the additional two years is two years of torture for the youth. The group estimated that families would have to shell out an additional P12,000 ($300) per year, on the average, in school fees, school requirements, allowances among others.
The youth group also pointed out the problems that surfaced when the K to 12 curriculum was initially implemented. “During the initial implementation of the K to 12, schools, teachers and parents were made to rush into new teaching modules which were untested and, due to the time, ineffective. Many youths were forced into home-school arrangements because of school shortages that have not even been addressed. Aquino is too concerned with his flagship program even at the expense of the youth’s future,” said Kabataan Partylist president Terry Ridon.
“And it is not just the students and the parents who are unable to accommodate two more years of education, our budget, school infrastructure and manpower also fall terribly short of what the K to 12 demands. In its initial implementation we have encountered problems of teachers having to work several more hours than what is required without the proper training, curriculum or orientation,” said Rep. Luz Ilagan.
The Gabriela solon also added that the government has failed to address the annual shortages in teachers, classrooms and textbooks. “The annual budget is already glaringly insufficient as it is. We fear that the K to 12 makes a bad situation worse. It is like prescribing the wrong pill.”
Rep. Raymond Palatino of Kabataan Partylist meanwhile explained “Aquino is signing a law concerned with the formative years of our children without waiting for a conclusive evaluation of the curriculum and its effects. I am a father of two children who will be affected by this program. And I am bothered, as a legislator and as a parent, that my children – our children – will face an educational system prescribed by world financial institutions to reorient the education system towards serving labor-export policies.”
In a statement, Anakbayan said the K to 12 program aims to produce semi-skilled workers to work abroad, an indicator that the Aquino government could not provide enough jobs for Filipinos in the Philippines. “The K to 12 program also serves the need of foreign countries, such as the US, for cheap labor from the third world thereby exploiting our laborers abroad,” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairman of Anakbayan.
“The K12 aims to produce cheaper, more ‘exploitable’ labor. The program is meant to ensure more ‘semi-skilled’ youths enter the labor force as early as 18 years old, which will make the unemployment problem worse. The net effect will be lower wages for workers,” he said adding that ultimately, this is an attack on labor and wages.
“Capitalists won’t give sufficient salaries to non-degree holder workers like what they are already doing right now. Hence, Filipino workers will be more exploited for being paid less than what they deserve,” said Andrew Zarate, spokesperson of Anakbayan-NCR.
Various youth groups are organizing protest actions this enrollment against Aquino’s K to 12 program. Kabataan Partylist also vowed to continue the campaign against the K to 12 program this school year.
The group further said that, “the government failed to address the shortages in school facilities and teachers yet they pushed for K to 12. Aquino’s option to go with a faster process to address the unemployment problem while abandoning education is no different from the 2013 fraudulent elections: fast, deceptive and unreliable.”