K-12 is bold yet untimely, PNOY should address education sector’s immediate needs

6 10 2010

K-12 is bold yet untimely, PNOY should address education sector’s immediate needs

PNoy’s pronouncements have repeatedly reflected the reforms needed in the education sector.  One of these pronouncements is the proposal to extend the basic education level to 12 years from the original 10 years.  In fact, the dubbed K-12 is reportedly set to be implemented by next year as announced by DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro during the National Multi-sectoral Policy Conference on Human Development.

The Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, a national group of student councils, student organizations, political parties and student leaders, deem the K-12 proposal as bold, noble even, yet untimely.  We urge the PNoy administration, together with the call of numerous teachers, parents and students, to rethink the proposal and answer the immediate needs of the education sector before undertaking the very bold, yet highly consequential, K-12 proposal.

Alleviate Filipinos from poverty. The proposal, which will adversely affect families who are already having a hard time making ends meet on top of sending their children to school, must effectively be in tandem with sound economic policies and effective and encompassing livelihood programs for the poor.  In recent years, self-rated hunger and self-rated poverty have been in their all-time high.  AusAid research reveals that 26.7 million Filipinos live below poverty line and 44% of Filipinos earn less than two dollars or 80 pesos a day.  The implementation of the K-12 in the deadline given by Luistro will undoubtedly effect to an increase in drop-outs due to poverty with the 10-year basic education only producing 5 graduates for every 10 students.

Address brain drain. Extending basic education without addressing the mediocrity prevalent among public school teachers because of the current exodus of the best and the brightest will result to a mere extension of mediocrity.  Before undertaking the K-12, the PNoy administration must first give more reasons for our teachers to stay within the country. This entails giving them more benefits and better career mobilization.

Improve and increase facilities. In some areas, it is not unusual for classes to be held under shades of trees due to the lack of classrooms.  Amidst calls for higher education subsidy for state schools, the proposed budget of the Department of Budget and Management for 2010 proportions only a meager 235 billion pesos to education compared to the nearly 800 billion pesos for foreign and domestic debt servicing, according to the Freedom from Debt Coalition.  It is apparent that budget apportioned for education does not meet the required baseline needed to sustain the growing number of enrollees per year, with classroom shortage amounting to more than 40 billion pesos in prospective costs.

Increase education subsidy and budget. Before the K-12 implementation, we ask the PNoy Administration to repeal the Automatic Appropriations Act which drains the country’s budget for debt servicing compromising the delivery of basic services such as health and education.  PNoy has the mandate to prioritize basic welfare services that should be reflected in the budget. This is heavily blockaded because of the Automatic Appropriations Act.  The Philippines also has the lowest government spending on education compared to our Asian neighbors at 13% (Malaysia: 22.1%, Thailand: 21.4%). The Philippine government also has to comply with UNESCO’s standard rating of 6% GNP devoted to the delivery of education.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.  Although the K-12 proposal can arguably be called noble and ultimately necessary, the government has to face and take the necessary and immediate steps in addressing other factors that cause the crises in education unless it wants to step into the abyss with 80 million lives at stake.

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