“We hope that the Supreme Court will see the realities that the DepEd refuses to acknowledge, and not become a party to killing the dreams of hundreds of thousands of young Filipinos.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — “Decide now or we will see disaster this June.”
This was how united petitioners against the K to 12 program called on the Supreme Court, as they warned of massive drop-out in students when the program goes in full implementation this coming school year.
In a protest at the SC here today, Feb.22, Filipino professor David San Juan of the United Petitioners Against K to 12 lamented that the high court has yet decide on the petitions against Republic Act 1033 or the K to 12 program, which were filed almost a year ago. “They chose to prioritize Sen. Grace Poe’s citizenship than the education of the Filipino youth,” said San Juan, who is also convener of Suspend K to 12 Alliance.
There are seven petitions against President Aquino’s K to 12 program. The SC ordered a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the Revised General Education Curriculum or the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) Memorandum Order No. 20 (CMO 20) in April 2015, which revises the college curriculum as part of K to 12 implementation. The SC has not made any other ruling on the K to 12 petitions.
One of the concerns of the petitioners against K to 12 is that not all public high schools in the country will offer the additional two years of senior high school.
The Department of Education (DepEd) has said in its official statement that only 1.6 million to 2.2 million students can be accommodated in public high schools. The remaining 800,000 to one million students are expected to go to private high schools and colleges, and state and local universities and colleges.
The petitioners said that even with the government’s voucher system, a poor student from a public high school still couldn’t afford to go to a private high school. DepEd allots P18,000 to P22,000 ($378 to $462) voucher per student, but many private high schools charge more than such amount.
“DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro is so detached and so blind to the harsh reality of poverty that many Filipino families face,” said Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Emmi De Jesus, also a petitioner against the K to 12.
“We hope that the SC will see the realities that the DepEd refuses to acknowledge and not become a party to killing the dreams of hundreds of thousands of young Filipinos,” she said in a statement.
De Jesus predicts more than half of Grade 10 students currently enrolled in public high schools will have no choice but to drop out. She explains that the cost of education in private schools include several peripheral expenses, such as strict compliance to school uniforms, buying notebooks and other supplies from the school stores and materials for school projects.
Rep. Luz Ilagan also added, “We are running out of time and more than half of the families of the 1.6 million grade 10 students who can barely eke out a living feel lost and deprived.”
On college teachers’ employment
Another implication of the K to 12 program is the displacement of college professors and employees in the coming school year. Because of senior high school, colleges and universities expects zero enrollments of first year and second year college students.
The Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities of the Philippines (Cotescup) also filed a petition for a TRO on March 12, 2015. They also filed an urgent motion for TRO against K to 12 on the day of the protest.
Cotescup and Suspend K to 12 convener Professor Rene Tadle said after the SC has consolidated all petitions against K to 12, the Aquino government through the Office of the Solicitor General gingerly worked on the government response to the petitions, causing delays in the proceedings.
“In the meantime, many higher education institutions have used the opportunity to streamline their personnel by offering ‘voluntary’ separation packages,” Tadle said. He added that even as government agencies “hastily come up with ‘safety nets’ and guidelines,” parents and students are the ones “burdened with the confusion generated by the K to 12.”
In Miriam College for one, Professor Rebecca Añonuevo, College Faculty Association president of Miriam College, said the administration has been offering “early separation program.” She said that seven general education (GE) faculty members have accepted “voluntary separation package” last year.
Meanwhile, 21 more GE faculty members are also in the brink of losing their jobs because their tenure will end this May.
She added that an official of Miriam College has a filed libel case against her after expressing opposition to the administration’s offer. “My letter to the Board of Trustees which is an internal letter was used by this official of Miriam as basis for the libel case they filed against me. This only shows that they are using their power to silence us who oppose them.”
“They cannot just dismiss our tenure just like that. We will fight for our right to tenure,” Añonuevo told Bulatlat.
The protest were joined by students and members of the Unified Petitioners Against K to 12 (UPAK), Suspend K to 12 Alliance, Alyansa ng Mga Tagapagtanggol ng Wikang Filipino (Tanggol Wika), parent leaders of Manila Science High School, Parents’ Advocacy for Children’s Education (PACE) and Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), League of Filipino Students and Cotescup.