“The plan for K+12 is not to provide higher education opportunities to the youth, but merely to create an army of semi-skilled labor for immediate employment abroad. It’s being designed to develop immediately employable youth locally for them to become underpaid, or worse, abused workers in a foreign land.” — Atty. Leah Librado-Yap, Davao City First District Councilor
By ALEX D. LOPEZ
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Youth and lawmakers who have been rallying against the K+12 program of the Aquino administration lamented on Monday the House of Representatives’ move of approving it for the third and final reading with 198-8 votes.
“The railroaded passage of K-12 only shows that the lawmakers who voted for it did not take enough care over how it will affect the Filipinos especially parents and students,” said Neil Brene Lopez, coordinator of Kabataan Partylist in Southern Mindanao.
House Bill 6643 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2012 seeks to institutionalize a new curriculum in education which adds two more years to the country’s current 10-year basic education. However, even before it was approved and legislated, the Aquino government already implemented the program this school year.
Only eight lawmakers registered their opposition to the bill, namely: Representatives Teddy Casiño and Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna, Emi de Jesus and Luz Ilagan of Gabriela, Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis, Antonio Tinio of ACT-Teacher, Raymond Palatino of Kabataan and Thelma Almario of Davao Oriental.
Palatino, in a statement posted on his group’s website, said the country’s education crisis would further escalate with the passage of the bill.
“The additional years in basic education would translate to additional burdens to thousands of Filipino families in the coming years,” he said.
While recognizing the need to reform the basic education curriculum in the country, Palatino pointed out that “legislating a bill that adds two years without the proper preparations is a turn for the worse.” He said, such is “is tantamount to two more years of torture.”
Sponsors of the bill, according to Palatino, failed to answer several key issues including the budgetary requirements, inadequate preparation of teachers, and the lack of proper facilities to implement the program.
Even Davao Oriental Representative Thelma Almario, in a television interview, raised howl on the education sector’s capacity in implementing the program including the availability of required resources. She said, the government should observe “extreme caution” in implementing the K+12.
At least six percent of any country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is recommended to be allocated in education by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the International Commission on Education.
But the Philippine’s GDP allotment for its education sector only ranges from 2.5 to 3 percent compared to Brunei’s 9.1 percent, Malaysia’s 8.1 percent and Thailand’s 5.2 percent.
“Our national budget is insufficient to sustain a ‘full blown’ program such as K+12 and the additional two years in high school. These are not the answers if (President) Aquino is truly interested in fixing the education system,” said First District Councilor Leah Librado Yap.
Labor export policy
Meanwhile, Palatino debunked the claim that adding two more years to education will improve the quality of basic education and improve the employment statistics of the country.
“We lack the figures, we lack data,” he said, adding that, “employment is not wholly a function dependent on the number of years of schooling.”
Librado-Yap, who also heads Davao City Council’s Committee on Education, cited the WorldBank study which said that the country has the largest number of unemployed youth in the East Asia and in the Pacific region.
“Almost 45 percent of the Filipino jobless youth are either college level or graduates,” she said.
Young Filipino workers are said to be “twice as likely” to be unemployed than those in older age groups as they figure in the annual average of at least 300,000 new graduates that add up to the labor force.
“The plan for K+12 is not to provide higher education opportunities to the youth, but merely to create an army of semi-skilled labor for immediate employment abroad,” she said adding that, “it’s being designed to develop immediately employable youth locally for them to become underpaid, or worse, abused workers in a foreign land.”
The local lawmaker said that K+12 equates to reinforcing the country’s labor export policy.
“The (Aquino) government continues to follow prescriptions from its foreign creditors to systematically reduce support for education,” Librado-Yap said. She added that the government is doing this to “reduce the government’s budget deficit while ensuring continued debt servicing.”
Debt servicing eats about 50 percent of the government’s annual budget.
Under the K+12, Kindergarten becomes mandatory for all five-year olds in public schools. There will still be six years in elementary school and four years in regular or junior high school while there will be an additional two years of senior high school where students will be given various career tracks. (Alex D. Lopez/davaotoday.com)