By Reynard Magtoto and Angelica De Mesa
LEGAZPI CITY, 8May2016 (BicolToday.com) – “Its either forced to enroll in private schools or drop the high school education.”
“We always say that education is a right not a privilege, and yet we still end up in unjustifiable system that pushes the youth to its limit,” said Kabataan Partylist Albay coordinator Kathrine Taopo. “Improvement in education is not felt by the majority of the youth sector.”
Education is an important weapon of the people who strive for economic emancipation, political independence, and cultural revival. Therefore, Philippines should produce Filipinos, who know the problems of the country, to understand the fundamental solution to the problem, and who resumes growth enough to work and sacrifice for the salvation of the country.
Believing youth is the hope of the nation, other sectors in the society call for the attention of the government to solve the skyrocketing problem in the education system of the country.
Right after the election on May 9, parents and students will experience the full impact of K to 12 horrors. Youth groups said they have read about pledges for improved social services from the candidates but no words what these candidates will do with the impacts of K to 12.
Youth groups challenge the next president to stand with their fight against the Tuwid na Daan’s K to 12 program that robs the youth and the country a better future. “We call on our candidates to overturn K to 12 program and heed the people’s demand to junk K to 12,” said LFS national chairperson Charisse Bañez.
“The next president of our country should carefully study the K to 12 program as it affects our entire education system,” said Bañez. “The next president should also take a look into the impacts of this education program to our country’s future”.
For neoliberalism, “The increased capital is good for business. A good business is good for the economy. A good economy is good for everyone.” Under this policy model, the control of economic factors from the public sector is being transferred to the private sector suggesting that governments must limit subsidies to social services.
The economy of the Philippines under President Benigno Simeon Aquino III focuses on job creation through foreign investment and labor export. The government used the system of education to focus on the needs of the international labor market and skills needed for overseas employment.
In essence, neoliberalism eliminates from the hands of the government’s duty to direct the course of the economy and promote the welfare of the people. Instead, social services and public property such as education are being passed into the hands of big foreign and local capitalists to monetize them.
Government’s K to 12
Under the k-12 program, Filipino students will have to go through kindergarten, six years elementary, four years of junior high school(Grade 7-10) and another 2 years in senior high school (Grade 11-12).
The 12-year program was found to be the best for studying under primary education as standards for students and professionals worldwide. Philippines is the last country in Asia and among the three countries (including Angola and Djibouti) worldwide with a 10-year pre-university cycle.
When the K-12 program was first brought up, those who opposed it raised concerns on the additional burden to parents and students.
For the majority of the poor, the additional years in schooling are additional costs, whether in private or public schools. Rather than design the system in education according to the needs of citizens and the needs of the country, K to 12 only confirmed the supply of cheap labor, semi-skilled and skilled labor, for the needs of foreign capitalists.
According to DepEd, the department is ready for the implementation of the Senior High School (SHS) in 2016 until 2017. They are now in the fifth year of implementation of the K to 12 program which Senior High School is in the last mile. All the 221 divisions of DepEd has completed the planning and already have numbers for enrollment in advance.
From 2010 to 2013, DepEd already built 66,813 classrooms. There are 33,608 classrooms completed and classrooms under construction in 2014 because there is a plan to establish a 5899 Senior High Schools across the country. DepEd issued provisional permits to 1866 private school to offer Senior High School this year.
DepEd has 128,105 new teacher items. The department has targeted two types of teachers. First, teachers for core subjects, and secondary teachers of specialized subjects per track. Earlier this year, the DepEd will take of 37,000 teachers for high schools.
Books and other materials are being done for the elementary under junior high while those for the Senior High School has been under deliberation. However the country still needs 63,232,105 books if the government can only supply 32,325,782 books.
The transition from the 10-year Basic Education program to the 12 years of the K to 12 program is critical to teachers as these professionals will also need to upgrade their skills so they will not be left behind. “K-12 program will just lead to higher unemployment rates for the teachers most especially those who teach Filipino subject”, said by Krisnah Iglesia of Act Teachers Albay.
For schools to be able to shift to the K to 12 program, administrators have to make adjustments to the movement of faculty, as well as resources according to Iglesia. “The spiraling cost of matriculation and other school fees further makes basic, secondary and tertiary education far from the grasp of the Filipino family,” she said.
DepEd said that they have always been transparent in the planning and implementation of K to 12. There have been regular consultations with various sectors since 2010, before the law was passed, during the crafting of the IRR, and during implementations. DepEd representatives have also attended various forum and conferences, including legislative inquiries, regarding K to12. The department also added that they are open to criticisms and suggestions regarding the program.
Horrors of ‘designed to privatized basic education’
At present, the country is already being plagued with the horrors of the K to 12 program including the ongoing enrollment chaos in senior high school. About 700 thousand to a million students will be forced to either enroll in private schools or drop-out of high school education according to Bañez.
Bañez stressed that K to 12 is designed to privatized basic education. She noted that it is evident in the severe scarcity of public schools offering senior high school. In the National Capital Region alone, only 2 out of 10 senior high schools are public.
“I pity the students, because they will only be forced to drop due to the lack of finances and because of this they will not be anymore be sent to school by their parents, just like what happened to me”, said Karl Anthony Canata, an out of school youth.
Karl did not finished high school due to financial incapacity. “I tried some remedies like the Alternative Learning System or ALS but still, I can compare that regular school is much better than that,” said Canata who is joining protests against K to 12.
“I dont think that this is a good idea, considering before K-12 was implemented, there are a lot of youths like me who face difficulties just to study in school especially dealing with financial needs, what more now that Senior High is not free as what I’ve heard,” said Ryan Belga, an incoming Grade 9 student.
DepEd gave out vouchers for K to 12 program enrollees to help their financial incapacity. However Bañez stressed that DepEd shows through its voucher system that education is not free for all.
The youth leader noted that not everyone is entitled for a voucher. “Even with the help of the voucher, students and parents are still forced to pay the high cost of senior high school education including matriculation fees that range from 25 thousand pesos to more than 100 thousand pesos annually and other expenses amounting to 100 thousand pesos to more than 200 thousand pesos,” she said.
Bañez noted the other effects of K to 12 include the re-designing of the curriculum to serve foreign interest by removing Philippine history in high school, attacking the Filipino language in college, and altering the curriculum in all levels.
Under the K to 12, History of the Philippines has been removed from the high school curriculum. There are Asian History instead of an in-depth study of the history of the Philippines in the seventh grade, the first grade level in high school; World History Grade 8; Economics in grade 9; and Contemporary Issues in grade 10.
According to Belga, on what they have experience now is not what they call a “quality education”. “You cannot call it quality since there is a huge lack of books, chairs, teachers and even facilities, unless they managed to improved it”, he added.
According to the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, if the government can only provide 61,500 teachers, then the country still needs 42,099 teachers. The country still lacks more than 134,400 classrooms if the government can only provide 18,169 classrooms. There are still 12,056,919 chairs needed if the government can only provide 1, 168, 608 chairs.
Protests to junk K to 12
According to Kabataan partylist, the crisis of the society is fundamentally caused by the primacy of foreign interest and power, feudal domination bondage and corrupt and fascist bureaucracy which push youths to join protests to fight for their rights.
Last April 25, youth groups protested in front of DepEd provincial office in Albay to junk the k-12 program that gives burden for the students, parents and teachers.
Tagged as Kurahaw: Konsyerto para sa Pulitika ng Pagbabago, Kaboronyogan Cultural Network hosted a concert on April 28 to call all Albayano youths to take a stand on the issues of the youth sector and particularly to end the Traditional Politicians (TRAPO) and vote for those leaders who will truly serve the masses.
They also gave a tribute song to the late Cris Hugo as a student leader and a martyr who fought for the rights of the Students. Hugo is the regional coordinator of League of Filipino Students (LFS) and the newly elected grand chancellor of Alpha Phi Omega before he was shot dead last March 19, 2006 at Washington Drive Legazpi City.
“Kabataan ang pag-asa ng Inang Bayan, we will continuously strive to fight for the rights of every Filipino most especially those who are in the youth sector,” said Jian Carlo Gomez of Kabataan Partylist National. “Kabataan partylist will lead the fight against the anti-student programs and actions made by the administration and push those programs that will benefit us all”.
Senatoriable Win Gatchalian even imposed that he will make it to the point that when he is already elected as Senator he will pass tuition fee for free in all State Universities and Colleges.
According to Gatchalian’s computation, almost 15 Billion pesos are needed to make it happen. “Titingnan lang natin ang pork barrel 220B ang nasayang, ngayon yung napunta pa lang kay Napoles ay 10B na, 5 B na lang po ang kailangan e libre na ang edukasyon,” Gatchalian said.
“The government really has money, if used in right things we can give the youth a better future”, he added.
According to Taopo, the government must stand on the masses it serves and be honest to its duties. We can not sacrifice the youth to address the personal interest of the government.[BicolToday.com]
(Angelica De Mesa is a journalism student of Bicol University who is writing for BicolToday.com as part of her internship)