Costs and benefits of K-12
My youngest son, Justine, wished he was at least a year older so that he wouldn't be covered by the K-12 program. Being a fourth year high school student this June, he will endure two more years in senior high school (grades 11 and 12), along with the thousands of his generation nationwide. They are to be called “more competitive and employable” breeds when they graduate in 2018.
“Ay, sayang! Naabutan ka ng K-12,” might be what other parents told their kids when the government signed into law the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013. Whether the government accepts it or not, poor parents, especially in the countryside, would only grumble over the extended education cycle when they can barely send their kids to school, even with the four-year secondary education. Extended school cycle means extended burdens for fares, baon, projects, and other expenses however free the public education is.
Many students of Torralba National High School in Banga, Aklan, for instance, failed to attend classes regularly not because they lack interest in the subjects. Commuting is not free, neither are school projects and other school–related expenses. In order to encourage them to attend classes, however, the school principal and a number of teachers would shoulder their school needs all year round, including sharing food with them.
This reality mirrors the plight of many other students in Aklan and surely in many regions nationwide. With the additional two years, the number of dropouts is likely to increase. Until school-year 2012-13, Department of Education’s data shows that there were at least 236,222 high school drop outs all over the country. One can only guess how many of them have decided to leave school because of poverty.
For other parents, they wish their children will graduate sooner rather than later. If not for two more years in senior high school, students would have made it halfway through high school. If modernizing the education sector could only find a way without having to lengthen it, then both parents and students, as primary stakeholders, will embrace it without reservations.
It is clear that K-12 rests on a proposition that a quality education carries a longer schooling cycle. In short, one cannot be done without the other.
The DepEd says that because of K-12, the country will have enough classrooms, seats, textbooks, teachers, and other needed facilities. When President Benigno Aquino assumed power in 2010, DepEd faced a backlog of 66,000 classrooms; roughly 2.6 million seats; 145,827 teachers; and close to 62.5 million textbooks. These have piled up for decades because the past administrations failed to invest heavily on education.
Aquino wants this backlog resolved and the curriculum overhauled, infusing a much larger budget to transform the next generation of students who are at par with the rest of the world.
Surely, these needs given under the K-12 program, including the harnessing of the teachers’s skills, will greatly contribute to the students’s overall development; this will make them more brilliant, analytical, and competitive. In hindsight, If all these had also been given to past graduates under the 4-year secondary schooling, then grandparents and parents, older sons and daughters would have even been much better than they are today, and perhaps, there would have been no doubt on the quality of education the government has provided for decades.
Every fabric of our society bears the finger prints of Filipinos who had a four-year secondary schooling before entering the workforce. Together, they have built this country and have helped rebuild the countries of others. Their expertise, knowledge, and competence have been recognized around the world. But our education leaders and our academic scientists believe that the old curriculum is weak, congested and fragmented, that it does not conform with the College Readiness Standards set by the Commission on Higher Education, and that it is no longer relevant to meet the challenges of the modern world. Thus, the need to modernize the education system “is urgent and critical.”
Respite from joblessness?
It is just fitting to say that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” This new recipe, with added ingredients, will take a longer time to bake but may taste even better than what the old generations used to have. But until then, parents can only grumble – and be consoled – with the promises that K-12 could give their children better prospects to land a job.
In the process, K-12 will give the country respite from the deluge of fresh college graduates looking for jobs. As a result, it helps contain the joblessness problem, which the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) pegged at 2.6 million jobless Filipinos in January this year. The figure is on top of the 6.5 million so called under-employed, or those who are already working but needing additional jobs. Their being jobless, however, does not necessarily conclude that they are either unprepared or less competent to enter the labor force; their being jobless is mainly due to lack of jobs.
Even though the government said that the economy has become robust and the labor market continues to grow – which cut the number of jobless over this period – unemployment problem remains as pervasive as before. In fact, our country has the highest jobless citizens in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, according to the Global Employment Trends report released by the International Labor Organizations last year. And ILO predicts no improvement in the unemployment rate in 2018, the year when the first batch of senior high school will graduate.
So parents must work doubly hard and pray that their children – being more competitive and employable – will just have to land a job. – Rappler.com
Pura Bella P. Elin currently works as a Teacher 3 and has been teaching for the past 18 years in Torralba National High School in Banga, Aklan. She ranked 2nd in the recent Head Teachers examination in the Division of Aklan.
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