By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL and IGAL JADA SAN ANDRES
MANILA – If there is someone who worries about the implementation of the K to 12 program – it’s the parents. The addition of two years to basic education does not sit well with the parents especially those who work hard just to send their children to school.
According to the Department of Education (DepEd), one of the benefits of the K to 12 program is that it is affordable. However, the Alliance of the Concerned Teachers (ACT) said the additional two years in the four years of high school is an additional cost to parents.
“How can it be affordable when the DepEd added two years to the four years of high school? Of course it is an additional cost to parents. A parent does not only spend money in tuition but also in transportation, school projects and food,” said France Castro, secretary general of ACT.
The global alliance of overseas Filipinos and families Migrante
International also decried the added cost to parents who are OFWs.
Garry Martinez, chairman of Migrante said OFWs will bear the brunt of the added cost on top of the continuous increases in prices of basic commodities amid the depreciating dollar.
He added that while basic education is free, studies show that a student would still need an average of P20,000 ($476) per school year to cover transportation, food, school supplies and other school requirements. The migrant leader said OFW remittances usually cover basic needs such as food, house rentals or amortizations, utilities and other monthly expenses.
Based on the latest Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES), families prioritize spending for food and other basic necessities. “An additional two years more of education will be an added burden to OFWs. They loan money for the enrollment or they will work thrice as hard just to pay for the tuition and other fees,” Martinez said.
Meanwhile, parents whose children will be affected by the K to 12 program are not in agreement with the DepEd’s policy implementation.
“I feel like it’s only an additional burden and not everyone needs K to 12, especially when the economy is down,” said Bernadette Biag, a 41-year old mother of three with ages four, seven and nine.
“In my opinion, this is not the time for it to be implemented because the government has not given a clear explanation about it. Almost everyone is confused about what the program really is… Even the teachers and DepEd itself do not have clear answers for all the questions being asked by parents.”
“It needs to be explained well to the public first,” she added.
Isagani Pangilinan, a 46-year old father of three, also thinks the program is not beneficial. His youngest daughter is an incoming high school freshman at Pampanga Science High School.
“The curriculum was just extended,” he said. “It’s an additional expense to the government and to the people.”
His 12-year old daughter is also not keen on the program. “She is dismayed because she will have to study for a longer time,” he said.
The K to 12 program will be implemented for the incoming grade one and grade seven (first year high school) students this school year 2012-2013. Grades 11 and 12 or the senior high school (SHS) on the other hand will be implemented in school year 2016-2017.
In SHS, students will choose from different specializations such as the arts, music or technical-vocational. However, Castro said, public schools have no facilities for the said specialization. “Our public schools have no facilities to accommodate the SHS students, eventually these students will opt to enroll in private schools who offer such courses,” Castro said.
She also pointed out, “The dropout rate is already high now that basic education is still 10 years; how much more with the 12-year program?” In 2008, for every 100 pupils who enter grade one, only 66 finish grade six; for every 58 students who enroll in first year high school, only 43 graduate and only 23 enter college; of the 23 only 14 completes a college degree.
Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino also said that one of the biggest flaws of the K to 12 program is that 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 doesn’t take into account the right of each and every citizen to have access to education and other social services.”
K to 12 program to produce semi-skilled young workers
Castro also criticized the objective of K to 12 program to produce “globally competitive graduates” saying that the government only aims to produce semi-skilled workers for the labor export policy of the government.
Martinez also said the real motive behind the K to 12 education system is to further intensify labor export, this time systematically targeting the country’s young labor force.
“What the K to 12 system will do is reinforce cheap semi-skilled youth labor for the global market. The DepEd talks of a so-called ‘professionalization’ of the young labor force mainly for labor markets abroad but unfortunately continues to ignore the very causes of forced migration, namely, lack of local jobs, low wages and landlessness,” said Martinez.
He said the K to 12 system sadly undermines the youth’s very significant role in nation-building because it is geared toward providing cheap semi-skilled and unskilled youth labor to the global market instead of for domestic development.
“Young workers, mostly semi-skilled and unskilled, make up approximately 10.7 percent of the total Filipino labor migrant population. Through the K to 12, the government will further program our youth not to serve the country but to service the needs of the neoliberal global market,” said Martinez.