“Instead of adding more years, the government should have fixed the subjects to have a better quality of education. Since this will result in additional financial burden to parents, drop-out students will eventually increase.”
By KATHRINA MANUEL and ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – A group of parents is set to file a petition to stop the implementation of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) K to 12 program at the Supreme Court.
In a forum April 12, the Parent’s Advocacy for Children’s Education (Pace) said that while they are not against the program, they want to stop its implementation because of lack of consultation with the stakeholders. They also wanted a more thorough research of the program since there are many issues raised in its rushed implementation since 2012.
The group asserted the parents’ right to be involved in the decision-making as one of the stakeholders. They lament that they are the ones who keep private schools afloat, yet the government did not consult them on the program.
Prof. Rey Vargas, a full-time professor at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) and a founding member of Pace, said parents cannot organize any meeting or discussion without approval of the administration of the school. This was why they formed Pace in 2014 to give voice to the parents and fight for their children’s right to be heard.
Arlene Llanes, 41, a single mother of two and a bank employee, said the additional two years in high school means added expenses. It also extends her wait until she sees her children graduate. Her two children are studying in a Catholic school in Manila: one will be in grade three, and the other in grade 10 this coming school year.
“The school held forums and seminars that gave us information about the K to 12 program.This program is really a burden for us, specially to mothers like me who is raising children on my own, it is really difficult,” she added.
“What is the assurance that the student after graduating in this K to 12 program will have a job, when we know that many of today’s college graduates are unemployed?” Llanes said.
“The government is not ready for the changes in the education program because of the additional subjects and facilities as well as the training of the teachers,” Llanes said.
Another single parent who asked to be identified only as “Kim RD”, 41, also decried that parents will have to shell out more money for tuition, transport and food.
“Instead of adding more years, the government should have fixed the subjects to have a better quality of education. Since this will result in additional financial burden to parents, drop-out students will eventually increase,” she said.
The DepEd claims that K to 12 graduates would be equipped with skills to be employed. But for Kim, college education is still important. “The more education my children get, the more opportunities he will get which often leads to a better future for them.”
Vargas has three children in UST: one in college, and two in high school. He said the program was not explained by the school to the parents and the administration does not even initiate any discussion on the program.
Vargas said there are additional subjects in K to 12 that burden students as he saw his children do “performance tasks or the hands-on projects.”
He said that Filipinos excelled in international education, under the former 10-year education program. He added that this program “is better than the other education programs in the world.”
Vargas said that even college teachers are affected by the K to 12 program. In UST, the university is offering a voluntarily retirement program for those who do not have or is not taking a master’s degree.
Although the retirement program gives a higher financial package to voluntary retirees, still, professors will end up unemployed or underemployed. Most college professors are also not willing to teach senior high school (SHS) level, because secondary education requires a different training from what they have.
Joyce Sicat, 14, an incoming grade nine student of Sta. Peregrina High School in Pulilan, Bulacan, said she does not like K to 12 because it prolongs the time that she will spend in the secondary level. She should be anticipating graduation in two years, but because of K to 12, her time in school is lengthened.
There are also small changes in her school, she said. Vocational subjects, such as baking pastries, are now being taught to them.
Sicat said she is planning to take up Engineering, a five-year college course. That is why she disagrees with the new program, because in two years, instead of being in freshman college, she will only be in junior high school.
Carlos Guzman, 15, an incoming grade 10 student also thinks of pursuing college education despite the K to 12 promise of employment after graduation. He would love to pursue music or fine arts.
Guzman believes that finishing a college education is still important. “It furthers your knowledge and experiences in the course you want and helps you to get a job faster because you’re more credible with a degree.”