"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

DepEd's K to 12, What Must Be Done

We begin by highlighting a set of photos (with their respective captions) taken recently at Santa Monica Elementary School (which is less than a kilometer away from the Book Bridge) by Cynthia Sumagaysay DelRosario.  The Book Bridge is a community library (located in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines) that aims to give an opportunity for children and others to learn how to read, to empower them, and to enrich their lives.

Lack of classrooms has always been a major problem. (Cynthia Sumagaysay- DelRosario)


This lone bookshelf, containing very old and dilapidated books, is supposed to serve the 2,000 plus students of Santa Monica Elementary School.  (Cynthia Sumagaysay- DelRosario)

Some ongoing construction to add more rooms, yet despite that, the number of students every year grows faster than the number of available rooms for them.  (Cynthia Sumagaysay- DelRosario)   
Room under construction.. (Cynthia Sumagaysay- DelRosario
This room was intended for the library, but due to the lack of rooms and the growing number of students every year (the school has 2,000+ enrolled students this year), the library took a back seat (can you spot the lone shelf on the wall?). (Cynthia Sumagaysay- DelRosario)

The class now occupying the space intended for the library. (Cynthia Sumagaysay- DelRosario)

Excited students on their second day of school... (Cynthia Sumagaysay- DelRosario)

The following set of photos are from Barangay Quinale in Paete, Laguna.  These photos were taken and provided by the vice mayor, Rojilyn Q. Bagabaldo.

The Barangay Hall of Quinale, Paete, Laguna


For the past ten years, the Sangguniang Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan have been providing aid (school supplies) to more than 200 students in the area
The school supplies include a bag, notebooks, crayons, etc.
Barangay Quinale OIC Josie with members of the Sangguniang Kabataan of Quinale


These photos speak for themselves. DepEd has claimed that shortages are confined to schools within the National Capital Region. This is simply not true. There are news coming from as far as Abra and Ilocos saying that volunteers have been utilized to answer shortages in teachers last year and this coming school year and some of these volunteers have not even received their honoraria for the past year that they have served.


In the meantime, DepEd is stretching its resources to implement its K to 12 curriculum. Photo downloaded from http://guroako.blogspot.com/2012/04/training-of-traners-day-0.html
This year, the Philippine Congress passed a bill that adds kindergarten to the years of basic education. This addition, in terms of resources required, should be viewed as an increase of about 16% for elementary schooling. (that is, 16% increase in the number of teachers, classrooms, toilets, etc.). The math is actually very simple. Kindergarten adds one year to a six-year elementary school. Yet, DepEd gained only a 15% increase in its budget. Inflation and the migration of students from private to public schools because of hard economic times plus the perrenial shortages clearly warrant a higher increase in the budget. Late enrollment is not an acceptable excuse since it is DepEd's responsibility to gauge correctly what the current needs of Philippine basic education are. Not addressing these shortages while spending resources on K to 12 (teacher training, production and reproduction of materials) is equivalent to ignoring the needs of the current students.

Community involvement as seen in Quinale and as illustrated by the Book Bridge helps greatly. The shortages could be met more satisfactorily if DepEd prioritizes and accepts the reality of "First things first". While individuals and non government organizations are doing as much as they could to help Philippine basic education, DepEd should not be wasting its limited and much-needed resources on a new curriculum that will fail without addressing the shortages first.

Kindergarten is here so DepEd must focus on this new year in elementary schooling. The other items should wait simply because there are not enough funds to do all things at once. One week of teacher training does not address the problems Philippine teachers are facing. Teachers are at the heart of education and their needs must be met first. One of the things one of my colleagues here at Georgetown could not understand is how DepEd is able to push this K to 12 curriculum without consultation. Reforms in education that will work can only come from the teachers, teachers who have the time and resources to reflect and contemplate on their teaching. Innovation in teaching comes with a commitment, which I do not doubt Philippine teachers have. These teachers have been working for so long for a very low salary. It is evident that these teachers chose to teach not because of financial rewards, but because of a genuine commitment to the education of the young. What is necessary is to equip these teachers with what they need so that they could do a better job. And it must begin with just compensation.

Education reforms, the one that worked in Finland, took a great deal of time. This appears to be necessary for a reform to succeed. The Philippines cannot afford to launch one reform after another, as it has done in the past thirty years, each one being very ambitious and very big in scope. The two characteristics, resourcefulness and conservatism, are very important. Finland succeeded by first planting the seeds required for a ground-to-top transformation of its educational system. Finland focused first on its teachers, equipping them with what they need to succeed. Finland's society first recognized not just in words, but clearly in action, the importance of the teaching profession.

To characterize opposition to DepEd's K to 12 as mere "resistance to change" is grossly misleading. Those who oppose DepEd's K to 12 are equally committed to improving the quality of basic education in the Philippines.

The Philippines may not be able to answer the 6% GDP (This is the true international standard that the Philippine must aspire to achieve, not the number of years of education) required for funding basic education. This is acceptable in the current economic situation. What seems to be unreasonable is for DepEd to spend on things other than addressing these shortages first. I end this article with a press release from the Alliance of Concerned Teachers:

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Press Release
TEACHERS SAY: PRESIDENT AQUINO’S K-12 program, A Legacy of Deceptions
by Act Phils on Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 6:08am ·

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said it is normal for any plan of reform to be met with resistance. “However, we need to overcome this resistance in order to put our education system at par with international standards to ensure that our graduate will have the necessary skills and qualifications,” she said.

“How can our students gain skills when even the kindergarten program and the rest of our education system are already bursting with problems?” Ms. France Castro, Secretary-general of Alliance of Concerned Teachers said.

The photos and videos from all over the country highlighted the shortages in basic inputs in our educational system. School administrators and teachers were also disoriented on how to go about the K-12 because of half-baked trainings done last summer.

”President Aquino and the Department of Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro, what more proof do you need to stop implementing Phase 2 of K-12? Stubborn students like President Aquino and his minions need special assessment sessions with teachers. We think that we must call on their masters too to stop deceiving the Filipino youth and the people in general," Ms. France Castro lamented.

Instead of listening well and investigating properly the situation on the ground, PNoy and his minions are fixated to implement K-12. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda admitted that at present, there is a shortage of 50,000 classrooms “but we cannot wait for the classrooms to be built before we implement the K to12 program”.

“This is sheer madness because they consciously are putting at risk our children’s future aptitude for learning inside overcrowded classrooms, in the corridors, in tents, makeshift rooms under the stairways among others,” Ms France Castro commented.

“A noble intention to improve the quality of education requires a thorough assessment and planning thereof. Our education system as it is now is not ready for the K to12 education program. An ill-conceived plan and program such as President Aquino’s K to12 education program must be aborted,” Ms. France Castro ended.

References: Mr. Benjie Valbuena, Vice-Chairperson, Cellphone No. 09182399222; 09162294515
                         Ms. France Castro, Secretary General, Cellphone No. 09178502124
Media Liaison – Zenie Lao, Cellphone No. 0919819890; 09174998608

NO TO K-TO-12 – Officers and members of the Manila Public School Teachers Association, Inc. (MPSTA) are making an appeal to the government to stop the implementation of the K-to-12 Reformed Basic Education Program that started Monday during a press conference at the MPSTA Building in Manila last Sunday, emphasizing that several problems must be addressed first before its implementation. (Richard V. ViƱas)

2 comments:

  1. Great coverage!

    There’s a telling question/answer under the F.A.Q. section of the Department of Budget and Management website, to wit:

    What basis law governs the use of government funds?

    The following provision of the Philippines Constitution sets the basic rule for the use of government funds: “Art. VI, Sec. 29. No money shall be paid by the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law.” The aforequoted provision of the Constitution also establishes the need for all government entities to undergo the budgeting process to secure funds for use in carrying out their mandated functions, programs and activities.

    I really am not sure if DepEd Order No. 13, s. 2012 violates the above-mentioned Constitutional provision by allocating “funds from the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Textbook Funds and subsequent years until FY 2015 for the provision of the centrally procured learning activity packages (LAPs), modules, and other instructional materials (OIMs) to support the initial implementation of the K to 12 Curriculum.”

    Since the K to 12 Basic Education Program does not as yet come under the category of “mandated functions, programs and activities”, it may be ineligible for funding even as the items in this case are textbook-related. However, as happens, DepEd believes otherwise, hence DepEd’s directive to fund learning activity packages (LAPs), modules, and other instructional materials (OIMs) to support the initial implementation of the K to 12 Curriculum with funds from the Fiscal Year (FY) Textbook Funds.

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    1. Thanks, Joe, for adding a link on your blog to this site

      http://mlephil.wordpress.com/

      I could only deal with the educational part of the issue, but you are raising an important point (unfortunately, I do not know the answer to your concern).

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