MANILA, Philippines—The Aquino administration’s basic education reform initiative, which requires additional school years, is closer to becoming permanent after the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading the bill that would institutionalize the Kto12 program.
But the bill did not pass without dire warnings from its opponents in the House, who doubted the capability of the Department of Education, saddled with an inadequate budget and problems with facilities, to provide resources for the additional years of schooling would entail.
The House, mustering a quorum after a week plagued with absenteeism, voted 198-8 to approve the measure on Monday night.
Under the K to 12 program, students would have to take kindergarten classes before entering elementary, and would get an additional two years of senior high school. They could also get a technical-vocational education or be trained in the arts, sports, or music. This is intended to make high school graduates employable.
The Aquino administration began implementing the program this year even without an implementing law. The senior high school classes would begin in 2016.
Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan said that while she was not arguing with the objective of improving quality education, she could not completely support the curriculum’s focus on responding to the needs of the labor market. Ilagan said such focus would have nothing to do with educating the young and imparting scientific knowledge so they could help in industrializing the economy but would have everything to do with simply servicing the needs of foreign investors.
She also said the DepEd’s budget would not be enough even for education facilities and other needs.
“The program is doomed to fail because the department itself is not ready to implement this,” she said, adding that it would be an added burden to parents.
Davao Oriental Rep. Thelma Almario also raised concerns over whether the current educational system could handle all the demands of the K to 12 program.
Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino insisted that the government pilot-test the “ambitious” K to 12 system before institutionalizing it. He also said the DepEd”s ill preparedness would affect the learning process of students.
“We are passing a bill concerned with the formative years of our children without waiting for a conclusive evaluation of the curriculum and its effects,” he said in a separate statement.