CEGP: K-12 will intensify educational crisis

“K-12 is not only a non-solution to the urgent needs in basic education, but an additional inconvenience and will magnify the already existing problems of an education system that serves foreign interests while it neglects to address the interests of the Filipino people,” said Marc Lino Abila, CEGP National Deputy Secretary General.

On May 15, 2013, Aquino signed RA 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, into law, without prior notice to the general public still reeling from the May 2013 elections, in time for the opening of classes in June. ”The signing of K-12 into law was done in spite of the loud and widespread opposition among youth groups, researchers, and other stakeholders against the institutionalization of the new education system,” Abila explained.

“The College Editors Guild of the Philippines, the oldest and broadest alliance of tertiary student publications in the country and in Asia, stands united in condemning the Aquino administration’s push for the implementation of K-12 as imprudent and aggravating to the country’s educational crisis,” Abila said.

“This underhanded move is similar to how the administration ordered schools to implement initial steps of the K-12 program at the open of classes last June 2012, even while it had no legal basis,” Abila explained.

“The Department of Education (DepEd) insists on shifting to the new education system on the grounds of providing skills for employment and readiness for higher education to high school graduates through the addition of two extra years to secondary education,” Abila said. “Kindergarten will also be made mandatory as a prerequisite to entering Grade 1.”

“Consequently, there will be a complete overhaul of the basic education curriculum as it moves from a 10-year cycle to a 12-year education cycle and as it accommodates technical-vocational tracks,” Abila continued. “These measures do nothing to address the most basic crisis in education, but worsen it.”

DepEd data shows the following shortages in public schools for the incoming school year: 47,584 teachers; 19,579 classrooms; 60 million textbooks; 2.5 million chairs; and 80,937 schools without water and sanitation facilities.

“In answer to the lack of public schools, the Aquino administration encourages the transfer of students from public schools to private schools, even as 1,144 private basic education schools were permitted to increase tuition fees this school year, further adding to the burdens of parents sending their children to school,” Abila elaborates. “These policies are a straightforward show of the state abandoning its duty to provide free quality basic education for all.”

“Dropout rates are at an all-time high as 68% of elementary graduates do not go on to high school, while 75% of high school graduates do not enter college,” Abila said. “In the last two years, 15% of elementary-level children are out of school, while 39% of high school-level youth are not enrolled.”

“Tertiary education, in turn, becomes even less accessible and will rise to the hard-to-reach elitism of colleges and universities in foreign countries such as in the US,” Abila stressed. “More Filipino youth will be absorbed to the technical-vocational labor force already widely wanting for jobs, worsening unemployment rates, contrary to the administration’s tout of the K-12 system as equipping high school graduates with employable skills.”

This, plus Aquino’s emphasis on K-12 to make graduates more globally competitive, only serves to push our labor force overseas in the wake of the lack of jobs within the country. “Instead of training intellectuals and professionals for national industrialization, the vast majority will be composed of low-skill, low-wage high school graduates that will be turned over abroad to serve the needs of foreign companies, reinforcing neoliberal education under the Aquino administration,” Abila explained.

Alongside the obstacles that K-12 poses, the tuition fee increases in 354 out of 1110 private and public higher education institutions (HEIs) have just been hastily and unconstitutionally approved by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), with an average of 10% tuition and other fees increases and with the highest at a 50% increase. On top of reducing fully subsidized tertiary institutions to four by 2016 under the administration’s Roadmap to Higher Education Reform (RPHER).

“With this, the Aquino administration proves itself thorough in putting the right to education further away from the reach of the masses,” Abila ended. ###

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