Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano urged the national government and the Department of Education (DepEd) to consider enhancing the basic education system of the country using a method other than the K12 program.
“K12 is only one method of basic education enhancement. Everyone is for basic education enhancement but I think the alternatives have not yet been fully explored,” he said.
In his Turno en Contra on the 2013 national budget, the senator expressed concern that implementing the K12 program could lead to more drop outs and a decline in the quality of education in the country.
“If we insist on the K12 as it is now then there will be more dropouts and the quality of education for the whole education cycle will be affected,” he said.
“At present, 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 out of school by the time elementary is finished. 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 added.
The minority leader also called attention to the sorry plight of the teachers that could further be aggravated by the implementation of the K12 program.
He noted that RA 4670 or the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers has yet to be implemented in its entirety – a sorry reality given that teachers have been identified by World Bank and other international institutions as the “single most influential factor in education”.
“We pay most of our kindergarten teachers P3,000 at present. How can we afford to pay them when the K12 program rolls out given that we can’t even do that with just 10 years of basic education?” he asked.
Cayetano noted that with the P60 billion increase in the DepEd budget for 2013, the agency has to put equal focus on all important aspects of the Basic Education Enhancement Program if it aims to improve the education system in the country in the years to come.
“Yes, we want the P60 billion additional funds allocated in the education budget but where do we want it to go? Do we want to focus it on certain projects and grade levels or do we want it to be just a shotgun approach?” he asked.
The lawmaker stressed that while he has been very vocal about expressing his reservations about the K12 program, he commends and supports the effort of the agency to improve the education system in the country.
“Don’t get me wrong, I support the government in its desire to improve our country’s education system. However, I don’t think that with the present resources and the present timeframe it’s possible to have those extra years implemented effectively. I suggest that there can be either a delay in the implementation, a longer timeframe approach or a different model that we’ll use,” he said.