K-12 is vital investment to country’s future – Angara

December 19, 2012 11:15 pm 

By Jelly Musico

MANILA, Dec. 19 – Sen. Edgardo Angara has described the K-12 basic education program as vital investment to the future of the country, reiterating the need for curriculum reform that would produce world-class graduates.

"We should consider this measure a vital investment to the future of this country, boosting the competitiveness of our youth and putting us up to par with our fast-growing neighbors in Asia," Angara said Wednesday, a day after the Senate passed on second reading Senate Bill 3286, also known as the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2012.

Angara, chairman of the Senate committee on education, arts and culture, said two additional years would help the country's graduates be more globally competitive since most countries have a 12-year curriculum.

”In fact, the Philippines is one of only three countries left in the world with less than 12 years in the primary and secondary tiers of education,” he said.

Under this bill, the Dept. of Education in coordination with the Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority along with other relevant stakeholders are tasked with designing the new extended curriculum that will ensure college- and work-readiness.

Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano has introduced three amendments that would assure the students as well as parents of the quality education that the proposed measure aims to achieve in the future.

“We are for the program, but we also believe that still not enough resources have been put into this to ensure its success which is why I proposed three major amendments,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano expressed concerns regarding the funding requirement of the program and the added financial burden to poor families which could result in higher drop-out rates owing to the additional two years in senior high school.

“I am not against K-12 per se. I see the wisdom behind it. I just want to make sure that we are ready to implement it in a way that will not further add burden to the poor,” he said.

Cayetano introduced amendments that would create a joint oversight committee to oversee, monitor and evaluate the implementation of the program.

He also wanted the Dept. of Education to conduct a mandatory review and submit a midterm report to Congress on the status and progress of the implementation of the K to 12 Program vis-a-vis the reported shortages on teachers, classrooms, textbooks, chairs, toilets, etc.“Shortages in classrooms, computers, books, laboratories, etc., in schools are said to be finally resolved and should be sustained, otherwise the proposed system will only prove to be an additional financial burden on parents and will result in an increase in the number of drop-outs of students,” he said.

He pointed out that in 2010, the country had a shortage of 148,827 teachers, 66,800 classrooms, 135,847 toilets, 2.5 million seats, and 60 million books.

At present, only 29,261 of teaching positions have been filled, only 23,646 classrooms have been built, only 29,243 toilets have been provided, only 1.3 million seats have been produced, and only 52.7 million books have been delivered.

Cayetano said a mandatory review and the option for Congress to recalibrate the program will give not only the DepEd but also lawmakers the flexibility to make sure that everyone is ready – CHED, TESDA , teachers, schools, etc. – to implement such a monumental program.

The minority leader also asked for a commitment from the DepEd to deliver the health benefits to teachers as provided in the Magna Carta for Teachers.

Lastly, the minority leader inserted Section 17 asking DepEd to endeavor to increase the per capita spending on education towards the immediate attainment of international benchmarks.

Cayetano stressed the importance of producing employable graduates through quality education rather than simply by the increased number of years spent in school.

“Quality education requires qualified and motivated teachers, modern training and research facilities, and strongly motivated students,” he said.

Cayetano reiterated his support for the Aquino government’s thrust in education and acknowledged that the 20% increase in the budget for DepEd was unprecedented. (PNA)

HBC/JFM

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