QUEZON City, May 17, 2012—Department of Education’s (DepEd) K-12 program won’t solve the existing problems in the basic public education system in the country such as shortages in rooms, educational materials, and other facilities and equipment; underfunding; the orientation of the education system itself; and access.
This was the opinion of Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond de Vega Palatino as DepEd seems to be too “pre-occupied” by producing “quality” graduates through the help of K+12 program.
“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 [Benigno] 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,” said Palatino.
Citing DepEd’s own statistics, the country’s public elementary and high school still lacked some 50,921 classrooms, 74,178 in teachers, 123,196 toilets, 62.4 million in textbooks and about 1.3 million in classroom chairs.
Unfortunately, said Palatino, while the government boasts that education is first on its priority list, the truth speaks otherwise.
“The entire allocation for education is still pegged at levels insufficient to ensure that every child is able to enjoy his or her right to education. While Unesco [United Nations’ Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization] estimates that 6 percent of the GDP should be set aside for education, but DepEd only received 2.2 percent of the GDP this year,” he said.
“Moreover, our 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,” he added.
The youth solon also pointed out the major flaw of the K to 12 program: 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.
“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 fails to account the right of each and every citizen to have access to education and other social services,” Palatino said.
Nevertheless, the government should also address the issues of the State-run higher educational institutions (HEIs) that suffer much of the budget cut this year and is expected to suffer more, with the 2013 General Appropriation Act is now being prepared by the Department of Budget and Management as early as now.
“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,” said the lawmaker. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]