PNoy signs law institutionalizing K to 12 program
(UPDATED 12:30 p.m.) - President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday signed a law that will add two more years to basic education in the Philippines.
Aquino signed Republic Act 10533 seeking to institutionalize the government's "K to 12 program," which was already introduced by the Department of Education (DepEd) to schools all over the country last school year.
In his speech after the signing, the President said the K to 12 Law makes sure that Filipino youth will have a "bright future" even beyond his term.
"Walang duda: ang K to 12 Act ay bunga ng ating patuloy na pagsisikap na itulak ang makabuluhan at positibong reporma hindi lang sa sistemang pang-edukasyon sa ating bansa, kundi maging sa lahat ng sektor ng ating lipunan. Ito’y tagumpay na sumasalamin sa ating nagkakaisang hangarin na mamuhunan sa pinakamahalaga nating yaman—ang mamamayang Pilipino," he said.
The newly signed law will restructure basic education in the country by requiring Filipino students to undergo one year in Kindergarten, six years in primary school, four years in junior high school and two years in senior high school.
The legislation also provides for a mother-tongue, multi-lingual approach to instruction to facilitate the early learning process of students.
Teachers will be required to use a region’s mother tongue as medium of instruction from Grades 1 to 3.
Present during the signing were House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Education chief Bro. Armin Luistro, and senators and House members who authored the legislation.
Some groups, such as the progressive youth group Anakbayan, however expressed concerns on the signing of the K to 12, saying the additional two years in basic education may just worsen the country's educational woes.
Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan national chairperson, said the newly signed law will bring additional burden to parents and students who do not have funds for school expenses, which may further lead to higher drop-out rates.
“The K-12, unlike what Aquino is promising, is not a solution to education and employment woes. Instead, it will further worsen and deepen the problems,” Crisostomo said in a statement.
He likewise said that the K to 12 program will also mean the government's "abandonment of tertiary education," since students who finish the program may already choose to work instead of going to college.
“The K-12 aims to create cheaper, more ‘exploitable’ labor. The program is to make sure more ‘semi-skilled’ youths enter the labor force as early as 18 years old, which will make the unemployment problem worse,” he said.
Lower costs for parents
Luistro, for his part, said the K to 12 program will not bring additional costs to Filipino parents and students, since the government will fund public schools for the two more years in basic education.
"Baka makatipid pa nga sila. Kung sila ay nag-aaral sa public schools, sa halip na sila ay maglaan ng pang-tuition sa kolehiyong pribado, pwede nilang ipagpatuloy ang kanilang pag-aaral sa public schools for 2 more years. Dahil nalagdaan na ng Pangulo, pwede na maglaan ang gobyerno ng budget sa public schools para sa grades 11 and 12," Luistro said in a separate interview after the signing.
He added that his agency is currently coordinating with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to discuss the possibility of shortening college education in the country once the K to 12 program goes on full implementation in 2016.
Luistro also said that the K to 12 program will not discourage students from pursuing tertiary education.
"'Yung nakita natin sa ibang bansa, ang mangyayari pagkagraduate nila ng grade 12, una, sila ay college ready. Pangalawa, they will be 18 years old. Ito ay kritikal kasi pwede na sila magtrabaho legally," he said.
"Kung gugustuhin nila, puwede sila magtrabaho part-time at mag aral ng kolehiyo part-time. Marami sa ating mga graduate sa high school, gusto nila magkolehiyo pero wala silang resources. Pwede sila maging working students. Palagay ko mas marami sa ating mga kababayan ang makakatapos ng kolehiyo," he added.