'Genuine' consultation on K+12 education program sought

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

A TEACHERS group urged the Department of Education (DepEd) Sunday to conduct more "genuine" public consultation on the government's plan to add two more years to the current 10-year basic education cycle.

Emmalyn Policarpio, spokesperson of the 30,000-strong Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) said the DepEd should not rest on the results of their February to March consultation in the country's 17 regions, which Education Secretary Armin Luistro showed an overwhelming majority in favor of the K+12 program.

"There should be wider and genuine public consultation, especially with the parents, students and teachers who will be directly affected by the program. We believe that the DepEd has good intentions in pushing for this initiative, however we would not agree that this ambitious program will work in the kind of situation we have in our public school," Policarpio said.


Last week, Luistro said 77 percent or 1,274 of the 1,417 participants (seven out of 10) in the forum/discussions about the government's plan to add two more years to the current 10-year basic education cycle have pledged their support to the program.

Luistro said the program gained the most support from Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Davao, Soccsksargen, and Caraga. The program garnered 100 percent support in these regions.

Ninety-eight percent of the respondents in Sosscksargen supported the program, 88 percent in the Cordillera Administrative Region, 73 percent in Central Luzon, 83 percent in Western Visayas, 72 percent in Northern Mindanao, 71 percent in the National Capital Region, 69 percent in Cagayan Valley, and 68 percent in Ilocos.

No survey numbers were immediately available for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Despite the majority support, Luistro said the department would continue its discussions and forums to reach out to all stakeholders even those opposed to the program, adding they are even set to conduct province-wide, municipal and school consultations.

The DepEd chief admitted that a massive information campaign is needed to enable the stakeholders -- parents, students and the public at large -- to understand the program.

He said most of the queries the department has received concerned mainly about the added financial burden, as well as the shortages in classrooms, teachers, textbooks and other school facilities.

The department said initial estimates placed the cost of two more years of basic schooling at P43.671 billion (classrooms, chairs, water and sanitation), while annual recurring costs (teachers, textbooks and maintenance and operating expenses) is at P16.792 billion.

In unveiling the program, Luistro said universal kindergarten will be offered starting school year 2011-2012. By school year 2012-2013, the new curriculum will be offered to incoming Grade 1, as well as to incoming junior high school students.

Luistro said a full 12 years of basic schooling will eventually be required for enrolment into college (incoming freshmen) by school year 2018-2019.

These, Policarpio said, are the things that DepEd should first focus into, adding that two more years in basic education will not solve the problem brought by the perennial lack of classrooms, textbooks, and teachers.

"We are not convinced that this program will succeed. The DepEd should first persuade the legislature and the President to allocate more funds in education sector. The backlog on resource shortages should be addressed first before we talk about this ambitious program," she said.

Earlier, former Commission on Higher Education chair Dr. Emmanuel Angeles also voiced doubt about the K+12 program, saying it is an "ill-conceived" plan and would siphon much-needed resources away from pressing educational problems.

Instead of the K+12, Angeles batted for the adoption of a "pre-university" program, which he said would satisfy requirements for a 15-year education cycle while costing less than half of the estimated cost of adding two more years to the current education cycle since facilities (schools and other infrastructures) are already in place along with a qualified faculty.

Under the pre-university scheme, students after the completion of 10-year basic education (six years primary and four years secondary education), may opt to go to technical schools, or take a two-year pre-university program before finally pursuing the three years specialization courses.

Likewise, graduating high school students who planned to enter college shall take up Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) similar to the one being implemented in other countries, such as the United States and the European Union.

The results of the SAT exam will determine if the student has the aptitude to pursue college education or attend technical-vocational school. (AH/Sunnex)

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