THE Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) supports the move to improve the education system of the country.

CBCP Public Affairs Committee chairman Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez said they will support any calls to upgrade the education system, including the 12-year basic education if this will help improve the education system.

"This is a good thing to consider because we are sure that the purpose of this is to improve our educational system," he said.

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However, the Caloocan prelate said a study should be first conducted since it involves different aspects.

"First, would this additional two years really contribute in improving the quality of education that is provided here in the Philippines? Second, since this is going to affect a lot of people there's also a need to look at the repercussion or impact of this on their livelihood," Iniguez added.

He said if the government is dead-serious on the idea, then it should priority to it and releases its funding.

"If the government really wants this and they are convinced that this would contribute a substantial improvement of the education of the citizen, they can provide money for that," he said.

The Department of Education (DepEd) is looking to implement its plan for the 12-year primary and secondary education program.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro said the program, seven years for the elementary level and five years in the secondary level, also meant that irrelevant subjects currently taught in schools would be removed while new subjects would be incorporated.

He said they would try to address the perennial problems of increasing rate of student dropouts, backlogs, textbooks, and classrooms in two years time.

CAT abolition mulled

Meanwhile, a youth lawmaker has called for an end of the Citizens Advancement Training (CAT), formerly the Citizens Army Training (CAT), among secondary school students.

House Bill 2356 filed by Kabataan Party-list Representative Raymond Palatino proposed for the establishment of a Social Action Program (SAP) instead of the CAT.

"The CAT should be abolished on grounds that minors should not be subjected to compulsory military trainings," Palatino said.

The CAT was established through the National Defense Act created by then President Manuel L. Quezon wherein students, starting at the age of 10, are required to take courses in 'preparatory military training'.

HB 2356's explanatory note states that "the CAT should be abolished and replaced by a program that is more focused on addressing the needs of the times."

Further, the bill stresses that "what the nation needs today is not an army of men trained in the ways of the military but an army of volunteers and advocates ready to serve and uphold the needs of communities and the nation as a whole."

"This bill intends to strengthen community service-oriented programs which will engage the youth to address problems of the society while performing their duty as responsible members of the community," said Palatino.

Palatino said it is through the creation of a Social Action Program for high school students that the government can "foster among the youth a genuine sense of patriotism and nationalism and selfless service to others as enshrined in the Constitution."

Components of the SAP include Literacy Training Service, Community Welfare Training Service, Community Immersion Program and Disaster Preparedness and Ecological Service Program. (FP/AH/Sunnex)