“President Aquino’s government abandons its responsibility to provide free education to the youth while pushing students to enroll in private schools, thus ensuring profits for private school administrators.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Progressive students and teachers’ groups protested outside the Department of Education’s national summit on K to 12 for Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs), held at the Hotel Astoria in Pasig City on Wednesday, May 6.
The groups urged parents and teachers attending the summit to join the call to stop the implementation of the new education program. They said that K to 12, which adds two more years to secondary education, not only burdens parents, but “worsens” the education system.
Charisse Bañez, national spokesperson of the League of Filipino Students (LFS), said many parents and teachers are united that K to 12’s problematic implementation is just a symptom of a disease.
“Starting from its implementation, to its ultimate objective of turning the education system into a huge factory producing semi-skilled laborers among the youth, it is clear that K to 12 is a defective program doomed to fail.”
Noemi Villas, 18, an incoming grade 10 student will be the first batch of K to 12’s grade 11 students for school year 2016-2017.
“She should be graduating next year,” said her mother, Gloria, 54, who doesn’t have a regular job.
Gloria has three other children who all have their own families, and Noemi, who is the youngest, is the only one who lives with her. They make do with her late husband’s monthly pension of P3,900 ($87) to survive every day. But aside from Noemi, Gloria also supports her grandchildren. To cope with the expenses, she accepts laundry jobs for P150 ($3.40).
“Sometimes I accept three laundry jobs a day,” she told Bulatlat.com.
An additional two years of school under the K to 12 program will be such a burden, Gloria said.
Worse, not all public schools will offer Senior High School (SHS).
Gloria slammed the DepEd’s statement that those who will not be accommodated in public schools can enroll in private schools by availing of the voucher system. She said even if the government promises to provide P22,500 ($506) per student, there are still many expenses in school, like projects.
“Tuition in private schools amount to about P25,000 ($562) up to P50,000 ($1,124). Parents will have to pay the difference. This is against our Constitution which provides that education shall be provided by the state,” said Dr. David San Juan, spokesperson of the Suspend K to 12 Alliance.
For LFS, the voucher system is meant to ensure profits for the private sector, privatizes basic education and further allows increase in tuition and other school fees.
“President Aquino’s government abandons its responsibility to provide free education to the youth while pushing students to enroll in private schools, thus ensuring profits for private school administrators,” said Bañez.
In a statement, the National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP) said “the premise and promise” of K to 12 only serves “mammoth foreign capitalists,” who will make profits out of the Filipino youth.
The government claims that the additional two years of school will make K to 12 graduates eligible for employment.
“The so-called globalization pushes the Philippines to create minions of cheap, docile and reserved laborers and semi-skilled workers out of the Filipino youth,” Bañez said.
The Technical Vocational track of the K to 12 includes Home Economics (housekeeping, caregiving, tourism promotion services). San Juan said it is designed to address the needs of other countries and foreign business entities. “This only shows us that this new program is anti-Filipino in nature.”
Sarah Elago, NUSP president, said that “K to 12 program is actually an organized scheme of exploitation, a program which is patterned after the interests of foreign industries while the Philippines is still in the hiatus of backward and illusive national industrialization.”
Jerome Adonis of Kilusang Mayo Uno said that K to 12 “will worsen the country’s educational system,” and turn the population into “a nation of contractuals.”
“Many Filipinos are jobless because only a few jobs are available in the country, not because Filipinos are not skilled enough for the available jobs,” Adonis said in a statement. He added that the program will further deny Filipinos the right to college education, which will be “an exclusive enclave of the rich.”
Elago vows that their group will intensify the campaign to junk the K to 12 program and push for an education that caters to the interests of the Filipino people.
“The K to 12 as a program is a product of minimal and undemocratic consultations with the teachers, parents and students and this will therefore only worsen the problems besetting our education system. Let us therefore unite and struggle so that the K to 12 program is suspended now,” San Juan said.
Other groups have also voiced out calls to stop the implementation of K to 12. On May 6, Magdalo partylist Reps. Ashley Acedillo and Gary Alejano and Sen. Antonio Trillanes filed a petition for a temporary restraining order with the Supreme Court for the suspension of the K to 12 program.