THE Department of Education (DepEd) said the cost of adding two more years to the current 10-year education cycle may be lower than the P100 billion as previously claimed by some sectors.

"That amount is based on just a particular assumption and not on a study. What I want to do is to review the actual cost of a 12-year education cycle," Education Secretary Armin Luistro said.

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Luistro said the details of the cost involve and other related issues of the controversial program will be known in October when the department discloses the initial draft of the plan dubbed K+12 to extend the basic education cycle to 12 years.

"We will include this in the review. The question here is it is really P100 billion to add two more years?" the DepEd chief added.

Aside from the 12-year education cycle, the K+12 program will also involve the "enhancement" of the current curriculum by weeding our "unneeded" subjects and adding relevant ones such as tech-voc courses.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said last week that the two-year extension will be free in public schools, adding it is more an investment because it will prepare students for employment even if they forgo college.

He also asked parents not to pass judgment on the extension plan until October 5, during Luistro's presentation of the details of the extension proposal.

Earlier, former DepEd Undersecretary Juan Miguel Luz said the government may have to shell out P100 billion for the program to fund the construction of additional classrooms, textbooks, chairs and the hiring and salaries of teachers.

Several teachers group including the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and the Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) have opposed the plan and reiterated their stand that the government should addressed first the shortages in the basic education sector rather than adding two more years to it.

Instead of allocating additional funding for the K+12 program, the groups called on the government to allocate at least 4 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to education adding that the present rate of 2.7 percent is a measly sum considering the influx of enrollees every year.

This year, the DepEd was only allocated P172 billion, two billion pesos lower than last year's P174 billion. Originally, the department requested P190 billion to resolve the gap in classrooms, textbooks and teachers.

Luistro said they would be asking for a P380 billion funding for 2011.

But the country's largest private school organization, the Federation of Association of Private Schools and Administrators (Fapsa) supported the DepEd plan to add two more years to the basic education cycle but warned the department not to tinker with the Revised Basic Education Curriculum. (AH/Sunnex)