THE planned K-12 basic education cycle of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III is ideal but unrealistic as it will only drive more youths to drop out of school, a neophyte lawmaker said.
Representative Karlo Nograles (first district, Davao City) said the expanded education plan, which is dubbed by the Department of Education (DepEd) as K-12 representing kindergarten to 12th grade, is unrealistic under the present conditions of the existing educational facilities.
Nograles, son of former House Speaker Propero Nograles, noted that the government's public school system does not have enough classrooms, teachers and well-equipped educational facilities which are required for the effective implementation of the proposal.
"The reality on the ground is that some schools even have to divide their classes to morning and afternoon sessions to accommodate more students...We need to modernize our public school system first before we could even consider expanding the cycle of our basic education system," the younger Nograles said.
He added that with the current 10-year basic education cycle, schools even lack teachers who will provide quality education as higher salaries encourage them to pursue work abroad.
"Once we are assured that there are no longer classrooms under the trees, then we are ready to have a 12-year basic education cycle," he said.
Another lawmaker, Representative Edgardo "Sonny" Angara (lone district, Aurora) who will likely chair the Committee on Higher and Technical Education, welcomes the expanded education plan considering that the unemployment woes are caused mainly by their lack of skills and competencies even after completing secondary education.
Angara said that since many of the country's secondary school graduates can hardly afford to go to college, the government might as well equip them with better skills and competencies to improve their chances of finding gainful employment even without any college degree.
"The main reason why we have so many college drop outs is the high cost of college education and not too many Filipino parents can afford to send their children to college," Angara noted.
The education department, headed by Secretary Armin Luistro, is set to bare the details of the K-12 plan on October 5, Teachers' Day.
The country's private elementary and secondary schools also supported the 12-year basic education cycle but warned the Department of Education (DepEd) against tinkering with the basic curriculum in the process.
The Federation of Associations of Private Schools Administrators (Fapsa) also appealed to the DepEd to allow private schools one year to implement the proposed plan after the public schools.
Eleazardo Kasilag, president of Fapsa, said a 12-year basic education system, which formed part of President Aquino's 10-Point Education Reform Agenda, in the country is long overdue.
"Where there is distress, there is a call. It is due decade ago, however, Fapsa schools appeal that we be given option to implement a year later after the public schools," Kasilag said when reached for comment on the issue.
When asked for the reason for its appeal to be given additional time to implement the proposal among its member-schools, Kasilag said contrary to the popular belief that private schools are overflowing in resources, majority of their members are having a hard time making their ends meet.
He added that some of their members are buried in debts just to finance the construction of new schools and other facilities as well as paying the salaries of teachers.
"We know in our hearts that private schools have beyond what is seen. We are rich in spirit, but ragged in goods for some FAPSA schools. Funds for new building, new teachers and facilities for the additional high school year have to be loaned," he explained.
Of the 1,937 private schools in the National Capital Region (NCR), some 1,600 are members of Fapsa. Nationwide, there are 9,995 private elementary and secondary schools.
At the same time, Kasilag warned the DepEd it will lose the group's backing if the plan, called by Education Secretary Luistro as K+12 Enhanced Basic Education Program, will include another revision of the basic education curriculum.
He said their stand is for the DepEd to let the current curriculum stand as it was still new.
"Let it not be a reform of the curriculum again. The Revised Basic Education Curriculum is still in its infancy. It was thoroughly studied under seven DepEd secretaries and some of the best minds. Fapsa hopes that it is not a case of different strokes for different folks," he added.
Another group, the Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) said it would hold a dialogue with Luistro today, Thursday, at the DepEd Central Office in Pasig City to discuss the issue.
TDC national chairman Benjo Basas said they support the education reform agenda of the President but they are wary of the 12-year basic education.
Aside from Luistro, Basas said they are also prepared to hold a dialogue with the President so that they can present the issues affecting the education sector.
On Monday, Luistro said he wants "substantial" changes in the curriculum to address the problem of the low number of graduates of the basic education system who enter and finish college and gain meaningful employment. (Kathrina Alvarez/AH/Sunnex)