Mothers picket DepEd QC, protest 10K homeschoolers displaced by K to 12 program

by GABRIELA | A National Alliance of Women on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 1:17am ·

GABRIELA | A National Alliance of WomenMOTHERS in several urban poor zones in Quezon City trooped to the Quezon City Division of the Department of Education today to slam the reclassification of their children as home schoolers without prior notice as the government agency implemented the second phase of the Aquino government’s K to 12 education program.

This developed as the school year opened this June when students who were attending regular classes last year found their names listed by their schools as home schoolers, meaning they were compelled to attend classes only on Saturdays, while their classmates who are not listed still report for classes Monday through Friday.

The website of the Department of Education (DepEd) in Quezon City justified pigeonholing 10,000 students to "ease overcrowding in Batasan Hills National High School, Commonwealth High School, Holy Spirit National High School, Doña Rosario High School, North Fairview High School and Judge Feliciano Belmonte Sr. High School."

“We are extremely distressed that the Department of Education is now implementing this program without informing us parents, and this will surely result in our children not getting the minimum proper schooling, all because the Aquino goverment’s K to12 project is worsening the lack of classrooms and teachers,” said Nere Guerrero, Vice-Chairperson of GABRIELA chapter in Quezon City.

She said children of GABRIELA members who were supposed to attend Grade 7 under the discredited Kto12 project of the DepEd was sent home on opening day by the teachers of Batasan Elementary School, with instructions to come back each Saturday and study their lessons at home.

“This K to 12 is really worsening our educational system because P-Noy and DepEd secretary Armin Luistro are forcing children to attend additional two years of school, yet they refuse to hire more teachers or build more schools. Now they even ask schoolchildren to buy photocopied lessons because there are no books,” Guerrero added.

According to Joms Salvador, national deputy secretary general of GABRIELA, home schooling that is largely unsupervised and not supported with proper inputs will most likely result in children not getting even the rudiments of standard education, and this will only push children to more truancy and further expose them to risks of sex trafficking, substance abuse, and bankrupted aptitude in all life skills.

The protesting women also slammed the K to 12 program as nothing but an added burden on ordinary families who already barely manages amid worsening unemployment, hunger and poverty. “Sending a child to school costs an average of PhP 12,000 per year, which covers basic school supplies, uniforms and a a very modest school ‘baon’. The K to 12 program, which brings in unnecessary additional years of schooling to satisfy an equally pointless objective, is burning a hole in an already tattered family pocket,” said Aurorita Consuegra, chairperson of GABRIELA-Quezon City.

GABRIELA said the only solution is for the Aquino administration to stop the K to 12 program and instead use the budget to repair and build new schoolrooms, purchase books and upgrade teacher salaries. They vowed to mobilize by the thousands to protest against the K to 12 program and press their demands for increased budget for education and other social services during the State of the Nation Address that Aquino will deliver to Congress on July 23.


10000 students are forced to be home-schooled and yet, such piece of news is nowhere to be found in major newspapers and websites in the Philippines. There is a brief mention of the protest held by GABRIELA in Politics, Showbiz, Sports, Scandal, Tsismis (PSSST):
Parents' Protest shown as a small photo on page 4 of Politics, Showbiz, Sport, Scandal, Tsismis (PSSST)

The piece sits on the lower right hand corner of page 4, without the additional information on why the protest was held in the first place. The press release from GABRIELA is found only on their Facebook page. If 10000 students are suddenly forced without consultation or warning to be home-schooled here in the United States, one could only imagine the response from the public. Its coverage will not be as pathetic. Perhaps, the public is tired of hearing about problems in basic education, but the public should not be peppered with fairy tales from DepEd's K to 12 program. These are realities.

Without a proper acknowledgement of the challenges Philippine basic education faces, solutions will not be found. Without the right values and principles guiding education reform, these problems will linger and only worsen. Why is it so difficult to see that it is plain wrong to waste time, money and energy on a new program while ignoring the fact that there are basic needs that are not met? Possibly, we are guided not by the values essential for a good reform in education. What happened to "Education for All"?

One perspective that hinders us in seeing what basic education means is that of competition. We look at basic education as a vehicle for social mobility. We take basic education as earning points for the future and not as an obligation to our children. President Aquino III started his education platform with this:
We need to add two years to our basic education. Those who can afford pay for up to fourteen years of schooling before university. Thus, their children are getting into the best universities and the best jobs after graduation. I want at least 12 years for our public school children to give them an even chance at succeeding. My education team has designed a way to go from our current 10 years (6 elementary, 4 high school) to a K-12 system in five years starting SY 2011-12. Kindergarten (K) to Grade 12 is what the rest of the world gives their children.
Through the eyes of competition, one is forced to copy: "Keeping up with the Joneses". And in copying, we have surrendered our values and assume standards of fashion. One perspective we have lost is that the same basic education must be given to all. To illustrate this, Philippine basic education is already selecting from its first grade pupils who should be taught special science classes. Grade 1 entrants are given a school readiness assessment exam – composed of 45 questions with a passing grade of 36 points. And those who passed are then qualified to take another test conducted by the Education Program Supervisor in Science and if 35 pupils pass, the school will then qualify for the special science for elementary school program. Programs like these are no longer questioned. It is therefore not surprising that the other extreme, forcing thousands of students to be home-schooled, is now equally acceptable.

Finland focused on its nine-year basic education program. Finland made sure that parents need not choose between schools because all schools are of equal quality. By concentrating on nine years of basic education, Finland was able to use its limited resources decades ago. President Aquino III, in "keeping up with the Joneses", opted to add years to Philippine basic education, completely missing the true value and purpose of basic education.