The plan to add two years to the basic education cycle, banner program of the Aquino administration, will surely be met by opposition from different student groups, parents, teachers and educators. The push for the implementation of the program despite widespread protests against it exposes Aquino’s stubborn governance framework.
Not a few have spoken out against this plan. It should be remembered that this program was already proposed in 2004 as the “Bridge Program” under the Arroyo administration and was junked. The plan was withdrawn after it was met with protests by students, parents, teachers and educators.
Proponents of course, now try to deny this fact by claiming that Arroyo then withdrew the plan mainly because of political considerations. But they are only trying to fool themselves as this spin won’t be enough to erase the fact that this fantasy project of theirs has already been rejected by the broad public.
Burden to poor families
The administration’s plan is a plain insult to poor parents and students who are trying hard to make ends meet. As it is, families can barely afford to get their kids through 10 years of education. Aquino is being insensitive to the plight of majority of the Filipino people, and we may need to remind the president that unlike him, not everyone is born landlords or business tycoons.
We are aware that while there is no tuition fees being paid in public schools, there are fees and expenses that parents have to shoulder to get students through school. Last year, the government allotted only P2,502 a year, or P6.85 per student per day for education. More than P30,000-P35,000 is needed for school fees, fare and food expenses per year. Poor parents are not able to afford this as proven by the rising drop-out rates.
During the past years, only 4 out of 10 students entering the school cycle manages to finish high school, and only one will be able to get a degree. More than 8 million Filipino school aged youth are out-of-school because of hardships.
The additional two years will mean additional burden to the poor families and will lead to more students dropping-out and more young Filipinos being deprived of their right to education.
It is amazing how the proponents of this program could stand firm on their twisted analysis that adding years to the current education system will solve the problem of quality.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that no matter how many years they add to education, as long as classroom to student ratio remains 1:70, as long as there are no textbooks or they are riddled with errors, as long as teachers are underpaid, and facilities remain dilapidated, no improvement in quality can be expected.
The budget for DepEd proposed this year will not be enough to address the shortages in facilities and stop the deteriorating condition of our schools. The government aims to acquire only 18,000 new classrooms out of the 152,000 needed, 10,000 new teachers out of 103,599 shortage, and only 32 million new textbooks out of 95 million shortage.
Cheap labor for foreign business
The K12 proponents try to further amuse the public by promising that the 12 year cycle will make the youth “employable” and that this will enable the young people get jobs. This is a ridiculous claim as the more than 500,000 college graduates annually do not manage to get jobs. There are no jobs not because there is a lack of “employable” young people but because there is no clear plan for national development which will lead to sustainable job generation.
The statements, however, expose what the real intention of the government for this project. The program is primarily designed to serve foreign needs for cheap “semiskilled” labor. The K12 project is a being pushed by foreign banks and companies for them to be able to profit by further exploiting our people.
The proponents do not deny the fact that this is in fact a foreign-recommended plan. Miguel Luz, one of the main advocates of the program, is consulting for and working for the World Bank projects in the Philippines.
Is it “matuwid” to model Filipino education system after foreign needs? Isn’t education supposed to be for the people and for national development?
Education for the people
The Aquino government should abandon the plan to add two more years to the education cycle. The plan will deny the right to education to more young Filipinos, worsen the already horrible state of education in the country and will further strengthen the colonial charter of our education system.
Instead, he should start to heed proposals to genuinely address the problems of the education sector by filling the gaps in classroom and facilites, fullfilling his promise to increase state subsidy for education to six percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), stopping unjust tuition and other fee increases, increasing teachers’ wages and pushing for a nationalist-oriented curriculum and education system.
Students, parents and educators must unite and fight to junk the K12 proposal and must fight for education programs and an education system that is truly accessible to all Filipinos and relevant to the nation’s needs for genuine progress and development.
Article for blogwatch.