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Thousands of professors expected to lose jobs with K-12 implementation

More than 85,000 faculty members may lose their jobs starting 2016 when the mandatory implementation of two more years of high school commences, the group Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities projected.

“Ang sinasabi nga namin, wala talagang mag-eenroll sa first year college (in 2016), dahil 'yung fourth year (high school) mag-e-enroll na sila sa Grade 11. Pagdating ng 2017-2018, wala ring enrollment sa first year (college) at wala ring enrollment sa second year,” said Professor Rene Tadle, internal vice president of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Faculty Union in a forum aired on GMA News TV's “State of the Nation” Thursday.

Under the enhanced basic education program of the Department of Education—called K to 12 or Kindergarten plus Grades 1-12—a student will be required to undergo kindergarten, six years of elementary, four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school.

The implementation of universal kindergarten began in school year 2011-2012, followed by a new curriculum for Grade 7 in school year 2012-2013.

School year 2016-2017 will mark the nationwide implementation of the Grade 11 curriculum, to be followed by the Grade 12 curriculum in school year 2017-2018.

Tadle said that based on their estimates, universities and colleges will lose 500,000 freshman college enrollees and more than 300,000 sophomore college enrollees once the implementation of the senior high school program starts in 2016.

‘Early separation’

Flordeliza Abanto, a full-time professor at St. Scholastica's College in Manila, said that as early as now, the school has already announced a mandatory early separation program for its professors in anticipation of the marked decline in enrollment in 2016.

“Ako po ay nasa professional course. Majors po 'yung tinuturuan namin, hindi ho general education. E pati po kami ay mare-retrench. Walang maiiwan na full-time faculty teacher sa isang kolehiyong ito. Kami pong lahat matatanggal,” Abanto said.

Another member of the group, Dr. David Michael San Juan of De La Salle University (DLSU), said they may challenge the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) as well as the law institutionalizing the K-12 program before the Supreme Court.

“Tingnan natin 'yung possibility na 'pag lumabas 'yung implementing rules at 'yung text ng buong batas ay mag-file na tayo ng kaso sa Korte Suprema,” San Juan said.

Republic Act 10533, which institutionalizes the K-12 program, was enacted on May 15, 2013.

GMA News was still trying to reach SSC, UST and DLSU for comment as of posting time.

Meanwhile, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Labor Relations Officer Benjo Benavidez, a lawyer, said no company is allowed to lay off employees in lieu of anticipatory loss as it would be in violation of Article 283 of the Labor Code.

“Nag-set po ang Supreme Court of the Philippines na kung ang loss ay isang haka-haka lamang o pangmatagalan pa, ito po ay hindi puwedeng gawing rason para po magtanggal ng isang empleyado,” Benavidez said.

He encouraged employees of colleges and univesities who would be laid off because of the K-12 implementation to report their cases to DOLE.

Benavidez also said that DOLE will soon release guidelines to colleges and universities regarding the implementation of the K-12 program.

Retrenchment just an option

But according to the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines legal counsel Ada Abad, implementation of the K-12 program will not automatically mean faculty members will be laid off.

Abad told a summit on K-12 in 2013 that member schools with elementary and high school levels can tap qualified college and university professors to teach general education subjects in Grades 11 and 12.

Instructors who are not qualified or do not want to teach in Grades 11 and 12 may also be given the option to do research or administrative work for the two years that there will be no first year and second year enrollees.

They may also go on a sabbatical or leave for two years or go on temporary "floating" status.

Abad said retrenchment, redundancy, or early retirement are also options. She said, however, that these options will likely be more expensive for the schools and will have to be done according to labor laws. — Elizabeth Marcelo/JDS/KG, GMA News
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