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K-12 woes: 42 percent didn’t enroll

DepEd sees parents’ opposition as reason students shunned senior high

K to 12

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) said parents opposed to the K-12 basic education reform program could be the reason only 58 percent of students in Central Luzon entering senior high school have enrolled.

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The agency has extended the period of enrollment in Grade 11 classes until June 30.

At least 2.2 million elementary and high school students in the region are expected to return to school on June 13.

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In a Tuesday briefing, Malcolm Garma, DepEd Central Luzon director, said the low enrollment could also be attributed to rumors that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte would stop the K-12 program.

Opponents of the K-12 expanded basic education law (Republic Act No. 10533) have claimed that the additional two years in high school would entail additional financial burden to parents.

“I am appealing to parents to believe in the K-12 program,” Garma said.

He dispelled rumors about the program’s demise, saying incoming Education Secretary Leonor Briones had assured its continuation.

The K-12 program, now in its fifth year of implementation, covers 13 years of basic education, divided into kindergarten to Grade 3, Grades 4 to 6, Grades 7 to 10 (junior high school) and Grades 11 and 12 (senior high school). The first batch of Grade 11 starts this school year 2016-2017.

The DepEd in Central Luzon has hired 3,888 teachers for Grades 11 and 12.

As of June 6, at least 57,637 students in public schools and 24,850 students in private schools (or a total of 142,631) had enrolled in Grade 11, according to Wendell Cabrera, DepEd senior high school main official in the region.

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But more of them preferred to prepare for college degrees than acquire work skills to make them eligible for employment after high school.

Of the 82,487 students who have enrolled, 45.87 percent prefer the academic track, which offers subjects in accountancy and business management, general academics, the humanities and social sciences, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

DepEd said 33.27 percent of them are taking technical-vocational and livelihood courses, which offer subjects in home economics, agriculture and fishery, industrial arts, and information and communications technology (ICT).

In the Science City of Muñoz in Nueva Ecija province, majority of 1,750 students enrolled in academic courses and only 25 percent opted for vocational and arts and design courses, said Dr. Joven La Rosa, program supervisor of the city schools division.

A PROTESTER holds a poster expressing many students’ sentiments on the K-12 program at a recent rally against additional high school years in front of the Department of Education office in Pasig City.  GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

A PROTESTER holds a poster expressing many students’ sentiments on the K-12 program at a recent rally against additional high school years in front of the Department of Education office in Pasig City. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

“We met the students and parents of the incoming senior high school students and explained everything,” La Rosa said. But “most students opted” to take courses leading to college, he said.

He said teachers underscored the fact that many companies have expressed willingness to hire senior high school graduates who pass accreditation tests given by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).

In Pangasinan province, almost half of students enrolled in vocational courses, said Maria Celia Junio-Fernandez, superintendent of Pangasinan schools division 1.

As of June 3, 3,915 students enrolled in technical-vocational-livelihood courses while 4,011 students enrolled in academic courses.

“Perhaps they are aware of the relevance and the need for people with immediately employable skills. They can be holders of national certificates upon completing the courses so they can find jobs or start business at a young age,” said Fernandez.

She also said many of the students may not afford college. Tonette Orejas and Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon, and Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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