IT'S amusing that two years after the Enhanced Basic Education Act (Republic Act 10533) was passed, some sectors are asking the Supreme Court to postpone its implementation. RA 10533 props up the K to 12 program of the administration of President Noynoy Aquino. K to 12 increases the current 10-year pre-university cycle to 12 years by introducing two years of senior high school. It makes kindergarten education compulsory.
It’s not that the protesters lived in a vacuum after the law was signed in May 2013 and until recently. Note that before RA 10533 was passed, the Department of Education (DepEd) had started implementing the program. In the timetable posted in the DepEd website (www.deped.gov.ph), universal kindergarten education was introduced in SY 2011-2012 while the enhanced curriculum for grades 1 to 7 was introduced in SY 2012-2013.
Protesters also had all the time in the world to go to court after the law was passed. So why the sudden uproar one year before the May 2016 elections? To be fair, the program has long been criticized, which is not surprising because paradigm shifts always encounters resistance. But it doesn’t seem like coincidence that the protests have been re-energized with the entry of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who is running for a higher post, into the picture.
Last year, DepEd finished laying down the curriculum for senior high school. This year, the fifth year of the K to 12 implementation, DepEd is girding for the introduction of senior high school in SY 2016-2017. Plans have been finalized, classrooms have been built, teachers are being hired. Those five years would be wasted if the SC postpones indefinitely the program’s implementation or strikes the law down.
I understand where the protesters are coming from. Most of the arguments they are currently presenting I also thought of when Education Secretary Armin Luistro announced the conceptualization of the program years ago.
For one, my two sons will be affected by the lengthening of the pre-university cycle. I too am worried if I could meet the cost of educating these kids until they graduate in college. But when I saw the advantages, I thought I could not do anything much but close my eyes and bite my lip. It’s a sacrifice I have to endure.
I agree that with only 10 years of basic education we have produced Filipinos so competent in their fields of endeavor they are being hired by the millions abroad. But in the current globalized setup, the current curriculum is no longer enough. We have to further raise the level of schooling in the country. The 10-year cycle is going the way of the dodo. Aside from the Philippines, only Angola and Djibouti practice it.
Consider, too, how the senior high school curriculum is designed. Since the cost of education has continued to rise, more and more high school graduates are no longer able to enroll in college. Senior high school is not just an extension of junior high school; rather, it prepares the enrollees either for future employment or for college education. Senior high school is like being in the early stages of college—and it is generally for free.
And should we implement the K to 12 program only after we have solved the inadequacies in the the current educational setup?
That question reminds me of the time years ago when I told a friend I would start courting a girl only when we will no longer be busy with our organizing work. His answer? “Kanus-a diay ta wa ma-busy, bay?
So my question is this: Since when have the inadequacies in our educational system been resolved? If we wait for that, abtan ta’g siyam-siyam.