Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano introduced several amendments to Senate Bill 3286 or the K to12 program to assure all stakeholders in the education sector that the government will seek to ensure that benefits from the program will be realized.
One such amendment is a whole new section –Section 16 – that directs the Department of Education (DepEd) to conduct a mandatory review and submit a midterm report to Congress on the status and progress of the implementation of the K to 12 Program vis-a-vis the reported shortages on teachers, classrooms, textbooks, chairs, toilets, etc.
The evaluation and status report expected after two school years ending in 2015 will include the status of the backlogs and shortages in classrooms, number of trained and competent teachers, provision of water and sanitation facilities, and other educational requirements like books, furniture, etc.
Cayetano said the shortages must be checked before fully implementing the K to 12 program to ensure that students get a solid foundation for a quality education.
A congressional review by both chambers, he said, is the guarantee to the nation that everything will be done to assure parents, particularly the poor, that their investments in their children’s education under the new system will pay off and reap rewards from the enhanced curriculum.
“This means shortages in classrooms, computers, books, laboratories, etc., in schools must be resolved otherwise the proposed system will only prove to be an additional financial burden on parents and will result in an increase in the number of drop-outs of students,” he said.
“In 2010, the country had a shortage of 148,827 teachers, 66,800 classrooms, 135,847 toilets, 2.5 million seats, and 60 million books. At present, only 29,261 of teaching positions have been filled, only 23,646 classrooms have been built, only 29,243 toilets have been provided, only 1.3 million seats have been produced, and only 52.7 million books have been delivered,” he added.
Section 16 also mandates DepEd to include in the midterm report the essential key metrics of the access to and quality of basic education: participation rate; retention rate; National Achievement Test; completion rate; teacher welfare training and profile; adequacy of funding requirement; and other learning facilities including, but not limited to, computer and science laboratories and libraries and library hubs; sports, music and arts.
“With this in place, hopefully we can address the rising drop-out problem in the country. Presently, only 66% of students actually graduate from elementary. This means 34% do not. That’s almost 8 million students out of the 20 million kindergarten entrants will be out of school by the time they reach elementary. And of the 66%, only 50% graduate from high school. We can’t afford to add two more years without solving this problem first,” he said.
Cayetano stressed that his amendment will ensure that basic resources and facilities are put in place before the government rushes to fully implement K-12 to assure parents and students that government can guarantee the quality education and better prospects for employment that a K-12 system promises to offer.
“I want a clear assurance that the proposed law will provide our people in the years to come an education that is far better than what we have today, that the prospects of employment for our graduates will indeed be greater, that parents, especially the poor, are assured that their hard-earned money for additional years will pay off in the end,” he said.