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Senator opposes proposed DepEd K-12 program

October 6, 2010 8:07pm

“More schools, not more years in school."

This was how Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto explained on Wednesday why he opposed the proposal of the Department of Education (DepEd) to amend the law on the country’s basic education to increase the number of school years to 12 from the present 10-year program.

"I oppose the addition of two years to basic education. There is no clear benefit to adding two years to basic education," Sotto said in a privilege speech at the Senate on Wednesday.

He added that the national budget can't even provide sufficient funds to maintain the present number of years of basic education, but now the DepEd wants to add more to it.

"Adding two years to basic education will further increase our budget deficit. We need quality education, not quantity of years in education. We need more schools, not more years in school," he said.

Sotto's statement came a day after the DepEd presented the 12-year "Enhanced Kindergarten-Grade 12 (K+12)" basic education program that the government hopes to implement by school year 2012-2013.

The K+12 model adds two years to the current education model in the Philippines, which the DepEd says is the only Asian country still implementing a 10-year basic education program.

Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro said that the proposal will make high school graduates employable, making tertiary education unnecessary to get a job.

Sotto however said that the high unemployment rate among Filipinos today is not due to lack of intelligence or skill, but because of the economy's failure to generate the same number of jobs as the number of job seekers that increase yearly.

He likewise said that the proposal will only become a burden to parents, some of whom he said can't even afford to pay for their children's education under the present 10-year basic education program.

"More years in school translate to more expenses for two years more," he said.

Sotto also said that the Philippine education basically has a 12-year education program because of our two-year pre-school program, which he said did not have to be institutionalized.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, for his part, said he agrees with the proposal because the country needs to increase its competitiveness at the international level.

"We are underrated by other countries, our educational system. It is painful for others, but for the country, we have to do it. We will have to find funding. It is the future of the country," he said.

Sotto, however, said the K+12 model was just borne out of a "perception" that we are not as good as others. "We are again in self-flagellation mode of our educational system," he said.

"If the world standard does not suit our situation and culture, then let the world educate its young the way they see fit, and let us educate our young the way we see fit," he added.

To implement the program, the DepEd has to work with Congress to amend the existing law, Batas Pambansa 232 or the "Education Act of 1982," which states that the basic formal education is a 10-year program.

Senate education committee head Senator Edgardo Angara had earlier said that they have created technical working groups (TWG) to study the proposal and call for a wider consultation regarding the matter.

Parents, teachers worried

Parents and teachers from both private and public schools in the country, meanwhile, expressed concern over the DepEd’s plan to add two more years to the Philippine educational system.

I think hindi important dito ang number of years (I think the number of years is not important here), but the quality of education and the quality of teachers," parent Igo Sogcuya said in an interview aired over GMA News’ “24 Oras" on Wednesday night.

Another parent, Seth Buenamente, said she does not think extending the number of years in school would have increase graduates’ chances for employment.

Kapag ang bata naman may abilidad sa trabaho, kahit high school graduate, natatanggap naman," she said in a separate television interview. (So long as the kids have the ability to do the work, even if mere high school graduates, they get hired.)

Teacher Freddy Viernes of the Concepcion Integrated School in Marikina City meanwhile expressed concern that DepEd’s proposal might add more problems to both teachers and students in public schools all over the country.

Federation of Private Schools and Administrators (FAPSA) president Eliazar Kasilag, for his part, said that the proposal might trigger private school students’ “exodus" to public schools.

“This will be another thing we fear will happen again… but we would like to take a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude because we believe that debates and consultations will take a while," he said. —With Andreo C. Calonzo/JV, GMANews.TV
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