Wenceslao: Let K to 12 flourish

PRESUMPTIVE president Rodrigo Duterte is doing what other newly elected presidents in the past did not do, which is to talk and talk to the media even before he could take his oath of office on June 30. Part of the blame, however, should be on reporters who have hounded him in Davao City since he topped the polls. Apparently, Duterte likes to talk, but the problem is reporters ask even the most inane questions and dutifully report the answers.

One positive thing about it is that, even this early, the incoming president is already showing us what kind of a leader he would be and is fleshing out his policies and stance on myriad of issues. Sometimes, though, the substance of his talk clashes. To quote a saying in Cebuano, which we attributed to the Chinese-Filipino, “Daghan sulti, daghan sayop; way sulti, way sayop.”

But there is one issue that he admitted he still has to subject to deeper scrutiny before he could come out with his stand, and this is about the controversial K to 12 program of the administration of President Noynoy Aquino. It adds two years to the current 10 years basic education cycle in the Philippines. Some of his supporters are already pressuring him to stop the program’s implementation but I hope he won’t be pressured to do so.

A case against the K to 12 program is pending before the Supreme Court. Despite this, the Department of Education (DepEd) is not slowing down on its implementation, the first phase of which started in school year 2012-2013 yet. For the incoming school year 2016-2017, which starts next month, the first batch of junior high school graduates (Grade 10 under K to 12)), will already enter the first year of senior high school, or Grade 11.

This means that the entry to first year college of this year’s high school graduates (Grade 10) has already been postponed. Even private colleges and universities, which should have been the first ones to complain, understand the situation and thus, instead of launching protest actions, quietly transformed their schools into senior high school-ready enclaves.

I understand the concern of some parents because I have a son who will be in Grade 9 this school year. Instead of graduating in 2018 and then proceeding to college, he will go through two years of senior high school before that. But this is not about me but for the good of the country’s education system. I accepted this years ago when Augustinian Recollect nuns that run the Immaculate Heart of Mary Academy gave parents an orientation on the K to 12 program.

Most of the K to 12 critics see the two years senior high school as an additional burden to parents who are capable of sending their children to college. But I say this is a matter of viewing a glass filled with water: some may see it as half-full while others may see it as half-empty. What I mean is that parents capable of sending their children to college are not the only participants in our education system. What about the majority who could not send their kids to college?

The two years of senior high school, which is generally free, is equivalent to two years of college or vocational education, and it prepares the children for employment or work, if they don’t want to proceed to college or their parents do not have the money to pay for their tuition. That is why I see the K to 12 as a program tilting towards parents with meager means, and they are the majority.

Of course, there is no assurance that the quality of education offered in senior high schools is good, but that can be addressed later on.

I therefore hope that the Duterte administration would allow the new education setup to flower instead of nipping it in the bud.

(khanwens@gmail.com/twitter: @khanwens)
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