DepEd order trumps republic act-A A +A
An Independent View
Sunday, July 22, 2012
NO doubt PNoy’s Sona, to be delivered today, will sing the praises of his Executive Branch and its alleged achievements. In particular, DepEd Secretary Luistro will be singled out for his “visionary” contribution to our education system. There will be empty words about K-12 making the Filipino “globally competitive.” Many Filipinos are already globally competitive due to their own initiative, hard work and intelligence. Our education system has nothing to do with it.
PNoy’s budget for 2011 and 2012 received a relatively smooth passage through Congress. We believe the proposed 2013 budget will encounter obstacles. The controversial item is education which seeks an allocation of P292.7 billion, a 23% increase over this year’s P238.8 billion. This is to enable DepEd to hire more teachers, build more classrooms and fund the K-12 program. Nobody disputes the need for more teachers and more classrooms. The sticking point is the K-12 program.
The existing education system of six years elementary and four years high school is specified in the Republic Act of 1982. For an Act to be superseded, it requires another Act. It is quite wrong of DepEd to negate a Republic Act by a mere Departmental Order.
The Department of Education is improperly trying to implement K-12 without necessary Congressional approval. It is doing this via DepEd Order No.31, published in April 2012, which makes Grade 7, the first year of a six year high school course, compulsory in public schools for SY2012-2013. Private schools are enjoined to do the same.
It is unclear how the private schools are reacting to DepEd’s invitation. The lack of clarity is partly due to the K-12 “debate” neglecting the interactions between secondary and tertiary education, particularly for academic courses. Many private schools offer Primary, Secondary and Tertiary education. A four year secondary course provides the necessary education for admission to a four year tertiary course. We do not anticipate that these private schools will see the need to have a six-year secondary education as embodied in DepEd’s K-12 philosophy. Fee payers are not likely to support a ten-year activity which has no advantage over the current eight-year program.
We are disappointed that CHED head Dr. Patricia Licuanan has not been articulate on the relationship between K-12 and higher education. Perhaps, understandably, she wants to keep her job!
Seventeen months ago, Senator Ralph Recto filed his Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2011 as Senate Bill No.2713. It has received polite but inconsequential consideration ever since. His bill has never been passed. Firstly, it was referred to the Committees on Education, Arts and Culture; Ways and Means and Finance. Later, joint committee meetings/hearings have been conducted—the most recent was 5 June 2012. The Bill is an interesting variant of K-12 in that it also proposes a 13-year basic education program but with two years kindergarten, seven years of grade school and four years of high school. The 13-year K-12 program consists of one year kindergarten, six years of elementary school and six years of high school.
Senator Recto’s proposed measure states: “more learning years would be added in the pre-school level to ensure that pupils are better prepared to begin their formal education rather than forcing students to prolong their stay in high school by enrolling in the fifth year. The additional years in basic education shall be implemented by phase with the Kindergarten to be implemented in SY 2012-2013, while the additional Grade 7 will start in SY2015-2016.”
Clearly, as far as the Department of Education is concerned, Senator Recto’s proposals have been sidelined by DepEd’s premature attempt to implement K-12. We shall see whether Congress will allow this. Speaking in Bacolod recently, Senator Trillanes spoke of his concern at being treated as a rubber stamp by DepEd with regard to education policy. We share the concern of Senator Trillanes.
A characteristic of a fully developed democracy is that when any government instrumentality claims an authority over the populace, it accepts a corresponding responsibility to meet clearly defined standards.
Hence, the passing of RA 10157 in January 2012, the effect of which is to make a one year Kindergarten education compulsory, should impose on DepEd the need for the specification of, and adherence to, unambiguous measures of performance. We are not aware that DepEd sees the situation in these terms. Kindergarten education in 2012-2013 is the same loosely structured operation as it was in SY2011-2012, despite the fact that it is now compulsory. The Philippines has a long way to go before it is a proper democracy where those in authority understand the need to accept corresponding responsibility.
Interestingly, Senator Recto’s unimplemented SB2713, specified an allocation of P40 billion to the Kindergarten sector for each of the first three years. RA10157 focused on the compulsory aspects of Kindergarten without recognizing the need to make improvements. The use of voluntary and semi-voluntary staff in Kindergarten is not compatible with a compulsory activity. All Kindergarten staff should be formally trained and properly paid.
The fundamental issue is that DepEd is, beyond its range of authority, trying to change an inadequately resourced 10-year program to an even more inadequately resourced 13-year program at a stroke.
What is the point of having an elected legislative branch of government, if its constitutionally enshrined powers are usurped by unelected civil servants from the executive branch?
“Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”
—H G Wells: The Outline of History (1920)
But what happens when education is a catastrophe?
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 23, 2012.