Albay lawmaker questions lack of classrooms for K to 12

Rhadyz B. Barcia

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Albay lawmaker questions lack of classrooms for K to 12
Albay Representative Fernando Gonzalez says classrooms that can accommodate senior high school are not ready, and many students will be displaced

LIGAO CITY, Philippines – An Albay lawmaker is apprehensive over the possible high number of school dropouts in the province with the implementation of the K to 12 program of the Department of Education (DepEd) this school year.

Albay 3rd District Representative Fernando Gonzalez said that classrooms that can accommodate senior high school are not ready, and many students will be displaced due to far locations of schools, badly affecting the poor families here.

“The K to 12 program of DepEd is good [except] that they’re not ready and equipped with needed classrooms to accommodate and serve the students, specifically in the countryside,” Gonzalez said.

DepEd is pushing for K to 12 despite an almost 70,000-backlog in classrooms in the opening of classes beginning Monday, June 1, for elementary and secondary levels.

The legislator is doing an accounting of students belonging to impoverished families as he is planning to subsidize their transportation requirements to avoid school dropouts. 

“Based on our assessment, only few schools can cater to the senior high school. Worst is that they’re out of the way. Students will be spending a lot on transportation alone, not to include their food and instructional requirements,” Gonzalez said.

Under the K to 12 program, there will be one year of kindergarten, 6 years of elementary school, and 6 years of secondary education. The latter includes 4 years of junior high school, and two years of senior high school. (INFOGRAPHIC: 10 things about K to 12)

The two years of senior high school will allow students to specialize in the sciences, arts, sports, technical education, among others.

The additional two senior high school years will displace tertiary schools of incoming first year students for at least two years.

The program aims to make the country’s education system at par with more developed countries, despite additional cost to families and problems on educational infrastructure.

The Philippines is the last country in Asia, and one of only 3 countries (Angola and Djibouti) worldwide, with a 10-year pre-university cycle.

Vouchers to decongest 

Private educational institutions will absorb students who cannot be accommodated by public schools. 

The DepEd is planning to give a P12,000 ($269.38) to P20,000 ($448.97) voucher per student who will enroll in private schools in a bid to decongest public schools nationwide under K to 12.

Under the Expanded Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education Act or Republic Act 8545, financial assistance like textbook funds, tuition and other fee supplements, and educational loans are given to priority students who will enroll in private schools, and whose families have an annual income of P72,000 ($1,616.29) and below.

The education department received a budget of P37.6 billion ($840 million) in 2014 to construct 43,180 classrooms. 

Gonzalez said that although officials are expediting the construction of classrooms in Albay’s third congressional district, the DepEd should have finished early on all the classrooms to avoid congestion, and inconvenience for students and parents, particularly those from poor families. – 

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