AN ALLIANCE of education reformers expressed full support to the plan of the Department of Education (DepEd) to add two more years to the current 10-year basic education cycle.

“Quality education for all is indeed about filling the gaps as well as correcting what is wrong with the system. It is not about one over the other,” a statement of Education Nation said.

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The group also lauded President Benigno Aquino III’s inclusion of key policy issues for the country’s education system, saying: "His statements on education send a clear signal that it shall be his government’s priority.”

Among the member of the Education Nation is DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro.

Aside from the 12-year education cycle, Luistro also said the DepEd would ask for a bigger allocation in 2011 amounting to at least P380 billion or more than double this year’s P172 billion budget.

This, he said would enable the department to address the gaps, especially in classroom shortage where the latest estimate showed 200,000 more classrooms are needed to accommodate the influx of students in the public sector.

But the 12-year education cycle is facing opposition even from teachers group such as the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) who said that the DepEd should prioritize the resolution of the problems in the basic educations sector instead of additional years.

Even the Presidential Task Force on Education (PTFE), a multi-sectoral body created by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said that the new system cannot be considered as high priority.

PTFE chairman Bienvenido Nebres said that adding two more years to schooling may result to more children unable to complete schooling.

Instead, Nebres recommended that the government instead add extra years to “select college courses” whose graduates would be required abroad to have 15 to 16 years of education.

But Luistro defended the move saying that adding two more years plus reviewing the current curriculum and resolving the shortages could be addressed at the same time.

Aside from Luistro, those who signed the Education Nation manifesto of support were former DepEd Secretary Edilberto De Jesus, former Makati Business Club Executive Director Guillermo Luz, Saturnino Belen of the Bato Balani Foundation Incorporated, Msgr. Gerardo Santos of the Catholic Education Association of the Philippines, Dr. Caridad Labe of the Cebu-based Coalition for Better Education.

Former DepEd secretary Fe Hidalgo Edicio Dela Torre of the Education Network Philippines, Maria Lim Ayuyao of the Foundation for Worldwide People Power, Mario Deriquito of League of Corporate Foundations, Aniceto Sobrepena of Metrobank Foundation Incorporated, Mario Taguiwalo of National Institute for Policy Studies, among others. (AH/Sunnex)