DepEd urged to go ‘back to basics’ in K to 12 implementation
‘Basic problems of PH educ system to imperil educ reforms’
Kabataan Party-list Representative Raymond “Mong” Palatino today expressed apprehensions on the capability of the K to 12 reform program to improve basic education in the country given that the basic problems of shortages, underfunding, orientation, and access that continue to hound our education system remain unaddressed and wanting of genuine, long-term solutions.
As the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture started deliberating on proposed implementing laws of the K to 12 program, Palatino reminded education officials “not to get too carried away and too preoccupied with the grandiose and ambitious plans of the program while relegating to the sidelines the most basic and essential concerns that continue to beset our teachers, students and other concerned sectors, problems that have actually contributed to the sorry state of education we have today.”
“The K to 12 program envisions to produce graduates with ’21st century skills’ but clearly, we are far from having 21st century facilities essential in achieving suitable learning conditions. The Aquino government has yet to present a convincing program to remedy the existing shortages in the education sector . How can basic education qualitatively function amid these dire shortages? Students cannot properly learn if, in the first place, there are no sufficient classrooms to study in, chairs to seat on, teachers to learn from, and textbooks to read,” Palatino said.
Latest figures from DepEd show the country still needs an additional 50,921 classrooms, 74,178 in teachers, 123,196 toilets, 62.4 million in textbooks and about 1.3 million in classroom chairs.
Despite government declarations that it is giving the education sector the highest priority in its budget, Palatino said the entire allocation for education is stilled pegged at levels insufficient to ensure that every child is able to enjoy his or her right to education. While Unesco estimates that 6 percent of the GDP should be set aside for education, the youth legislator deplores that DepEd only received 2.2 percent of the GDP for the current year.
Furthermore, Palatino said that the teachers, arguably the most important key components in the implementation of the K to 12 program, will not be able to fulfill the demands of the new program if they continue to be plagued by the same old problems such as low pay, delays in release of salaries, lack of benefits, shouldering of classroom operational expenses, and poor working conditions.
Most importantly, the youth solon said “one of the biggest flaws of the K to 12 program is that it is anchored on improving the competencies of in-school youth without addressing the problem of the growing number of out-of-school youths in the country who equally deserve to be in school.” He said: “Perhaps Aquino and his education officials should ask themselves if the K to 12 program will be able to send millions of out-of-school youths to school? Any education reform of the government is doomed to fail if it doesn’t take into account the right of each and every citizen to have access to education and other social services.”
Meanwhile, as the Department of Budget and Management consolidates and prepares the 2013 budget proposal, which will be presented to Congress after President Benigno Aquino III’s state of the nation address on July 23, Palatino enjoined the budget department to consider augmenting the subsidy of state universities and colleges as many of these public higher educational institutions are expected to play a key role in the implementation of K to 12, specifically the provision of the Senior High School program.
“For many years, our SUCs have been receiving not funds but scraps from the national government. Operational budgets yearly receive drastic cuts, while no single amount is earmarked for the construction of new buildings and the improvement of facilities. Now that SUCs are going to play a crucial role in the government’s flagship educational program, perhaps the government can now heed the longstanding demand of various sectors for greater state subsidy to higher education,” Palatino ended. #