K-12: A Choice for Quality Private Schools-A A +A
An Independent View
Monday, August 26, 2013
REPUBLIC Act No 10533, “An Act Enhancing the Philippine Basic Education System by Strengthening its Curriculum and Increasing the Number of Years for Basic Education, Appropriating Funds Therefore and for other Purposes” aka the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 was signed by PNoy on 15 May and took effect on 8 June.
To clarify how the Act would operate in practice requires ‘Implementing Rules and Regulations’ (IRR). The IRR should be produced by 7 September (90 days from the Act taking effect).
The Act is sometimes referred to as K-12 since it imposes 13 years of ‘compulsory’ education. The compulsory element brings the Philippines into world leadership for quantity, though sadly not quality, of education.
A draft copy of the IRR dated 12 August has been issued by the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). We are pleased in principle that CHED and TESDA have been involved in producing the IRR. Hitherto, we considered that RA 10533 was the result of DepEd’s unilateral views. In fact, there is evidence cited in my article [Sun.Star Bacolod 29 May] that DepEd even sidelined Congress since RA 10533 contains major modifications of the House and Senate Bills which were agreed to by a joint meeting of the House and Senate Education Committees on 30 January. But unless the incoming 16th Congress choose to revisit Education policy, our concerns about the legislative processes of the passage of RA 10533 being short-circuited are no longer relevant.
RA 10533 contains the important provision which extends compulsory education for a further two years. From 2016, the basic education program will comprise at least one year of kindergarten education, six years of elementary education and six years of secondary education. Secondary education consists of four years of Junior High School and two years of Senior High School.
If secondary education is extended by two years, and if, at present a student can gain College entrance after a four year high school course, what is the impact on Colleges of extending the high school program to six years?
Unfortunately this vital question – vital to both Colleges and students – is not answered in the IRR. We cannot see that either CHED or TESDA has made appropriate interventions in preparing the IRR.
Colleges have recently expressed concern that they do not know whether there will be any College entrants in June 2016 or June 2017. [The years in which the High School program is extended from four years to six]. These concerns are also not properly addressed in the IRR.
The IRR contains a number of sections which provide specificity to RA 10533.
For example, Section 6.3. of the IRR states:
‘DepEd may allow private schools flexibility in adopting the program provided that they comply with the DepEd prescribed standards’.
This is compatible with the announcement by DepEd Sec Luistro on 17 February 2012 who said the K-12 will be voluntary for private schools. In a later Departmental Order, Luistro said that private schools are ‘enjoined’ to be part of the K-12 program. ‘Enjoined’ is somewhat less than ‘compulsory’. Anything less than compulsory means voluntary.
We agree with the principle that flexibility is appropriate when a private school is providing quality education. If, during the fourth year of high school, a student receiving quality education can pass a stringent College entrance examination, thereby demonstrating that he can benefit from a College course, then it seems reasonable to allow him to enter College after four years of high school.
The IRR makes further statements relating to the implementation of RA 10533. These include:
* Teacher qualifications, training and continuing professional development
* Regulations for private education institutions
*Career guidance and counseling for students
*Government Assistance for students and teachers in private education.
We sometimes see DepEd as a self-contained monolith with its own philosophy and which is impervious to the views of the outside world. The elimination of some of the crucial components of the House and Senate Bills RA 10533 is a disappointing feature of DepEd’s unwillingness to listen to our elected representatives.
The IRR does, however, recognize that Congressional contact is unavoidable.
Firstly, there is the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee created in Sec 13 of RA 10533. We hope that DepEd takes the views of this Committee seriously.
The world of educators has the bad habit of using expressions in an empty context. DepEd claims that our education system is ‘globally competitive’. Due to its poor quality, it is nothing of the kind.
House Bill 6643 gave substantive meaning to Globally Competitive. The meaning included an extensive IT curriculum, facilities, and training. These desirable components were excluded by RA 10533.
We hope that the Oversight Committee is able to persuade DepEd that we expect much greater returns from the now substantial investment in education.
Secondly as result of Sec Luistro’s meeting with Senate in December 2012, there was Senatorial concern that despite the huge increases in education spending we still have a deplorable lack of vital resources including teachers, classrooms, textbooks, seats, toilets etc. DepEd was instructed to undertake a review by the end of School Year 2014-2015 and submit a mid-term report to Congress. The lack of basic resources is unconstitutional since the Constitution mandates ‘quality’ education.
Education is perhaps the most vital component of PNoy’s governance. It is certainly the most expensive.
The education budget for 2014 is P336.8 billion, just over 15% of the total budget of P2.268 trillion.
But our investment in education is already producing returns. Our graduates are now holding vital jobs for which a good education is necessary. These graduates are contributing substantially to the Nation’s economic progress.
More importantly, the well-educated have an inner strength. Even if they lead straitened lives, they can never be truly downtrodden.
‘The first duty of a State is to see that every child born therein shall be well housed, clothed, fed and educated, till it attains years of discretion’ –Time and Tide (1867) Letter 13, John Ruskin (1819-1900)
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 26, 2013.