Romulo urges DepEd: Admit PH not yet ready for K-12
Months away from the anticipated implementation of the Senior High School (SHS) program, Representative Roman Romulo urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to admit that the Philippines is not yet ready for the upgraded basic education curriculum.
Romulo, who is vying for a seat in the senate under presidential frontrunner Grace Poe’s Partido Galing at Puso, said that he “agrees with the concept of K-12, but I think we are not ready to implement K-12.”
The Supreme Court on Tuesday has denied multiple petitions seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the implementation of Republic Act 10533 or Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2012.
This means that the landmark education reform program of the Aquino administration, which adds two more years of basic education, will be carried out, unless a final decision is handed down before June.
READ: SC dismisses bid to stop implementation of K-12 law
Romulo, who chairs the House committee on higher education, said he preferred that the program implementation be postponed.
“[A]ko I prefer that DepEd admits that it is not ready. That it will not be able to provide quality education. So maybe after one or two years then they can implement it, anyway the law is already there,” Romulo said in a roundtable discussion with Inquirer editors and reporters last week.
“Pero at the end of the day, kung hindi talaga ready, magiging pabigat lamang eh (if it’s really not ready, it will just become a burden),” he added.
With the lack of classrooms and facilities, Romulo said DepEd cannot admit the 1.3 to 1.4 million junior high school graduates into the senior high school program even with the voucher.
“Mayroong mga probinsiya, munisipyo na kulang ang classrooms. Mayroong mga provinsiya, munisipyo sapat ang dami ng classrooms pero hindi naman sapat ang mga equipment and facilities required for [quality education]. Mayroong mga provinces that will start implementing the voucher system dahil kulang nga ang mga classroom,”
(There are provinces and municipalities where classrooms are lacking. There are provinces and municipalities with enough classrooms, but have insufficient equipment for delivering quality education. There are provinces that will start implementing the voucher system because of the lack of classrooms.)
The voucher system subsidizes a student’s attendance to private schools that are accredited by the government.
“If you will note po kung ano yung voucher system (what the voucher system is), it’s an amount to be given to a student who will transfer to a public high school to a private high school. Ang amount niyan (that amount) ranges from P18,000 to P22,550. ‘Yung P22,500 that is the maximum for Metro Manila ‘yan. Pero that is per year (But that is annually). Per semester, ‘yun (that is) effectively P11,000 or P12,000,” he explained.
“Ang tanong nga (The question is), ‘Have we checked the private high schools that will benefit from this voucher system if they can accommodate the number of transferees? That they can ensure na meron pa ring (that there would still be) quality education?” he added.
‘1.1 million to bite the bullet’
If the high court will uphold the K-12 law, an estimated 1.1 million students will be forced to proceed to newly opened senior high schools instead of seeking higher education in colleges and universities.
Romulo, who passed five education laws including the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST), said the government must consider the burden that the “unprepared” implementation of the program will cause the families to incur.
He emphasized that about “1 million to 1.1 million students and their families who will be carrying the burden.”
READ: K-12: Who loses, who profits
“If you take a look at the numbers, karamihan nasa (most students are in) public high schools. And there’s reason kung bakit sila nandoon (why they’re there). Masyadong mahal ang private high schools (Enrolling in private schools is costly). They can’t afford. And we all know kahit nasa (even if you’re in a ) public high school ka, hindi ibig sabihin completely libre na lahat (it doesn’t mean that everything is free). Ang sagot lang naman ng gobyerno [tuition] (The government only shoulders the tuition),” he said.
“Sa akin ang daling sabihin talaga. Tama naman iyon, may birthpains talaga. Pero for 1 to 1.1 million students in public high schools, sila yung mag ba-bite ng bullet, hindi naman tayo. So are we sure they will be able to afford two more years na wala namang value na na-add talagang na add dahil hindi naman talaga handa ang programa,” he added.
(For me, it’s really easier said than done. That’s right, there will be birthpains. But for the 1 to 1.1 million students in public schools, they are the ones to bite the bullet, not us. So are we sure they will be able to afford two more years without any true added value because of the program’s lack of readiness?)
But despite these findings, he admitted that stopping the program is difficult, noting that the education department has already produced graduates through its pilot implementation schools across the country.
READ: Trillanes to ask Aquino successor to stop K-12
DepEd hailed the denial of TRO against the K-12 program which “allows DepEd and our stakeholders to focus on the urgent remaining tasks for the opening of Grade 11 by June this year.”
“We appeal to the SC petitioners and those who may still have concerns on the program to work with us even more closely so we can address the any remaining challenges,” Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro said in a statement.
But Romulo vowed to continue pointing out that DepEd is not ready for the program.
“If we do not point out the shortcomings now, they will proceed with what they have. That is why we need to be critical para gumagawa din sila ng mga hakbang para ma-improve ‘yung system na ginagawa nila ngayon (so that they will take steps to improve their existing system),” he said.
“If we don’t point out these problems, it will just be swept under the rug and ‘bahala na’ na ang mangyari (they may just let things take their own course). That is not how we proceed especially with our education system.” CDG
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