Aquino signs K-12 bill into law

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday, May 15, signed the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 into law, more commonly known as the K-12 program.

WIth the law passed, students will now undergo "Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School [SHS]), before heading into higher education."

This adds two years to the basic education system in an effort to further prepare students for the world ahead.

In a speech by President Aquino on the signing of the K-12 law, he noted the strengths of implementing the K-12 law, including the implementation of universal indergarten in public and private schools and and other initiatives for basic education up to junior high school.

"Tinitiyak nating sapat at kapaki-pakinabang ang kasanayang naibabahagi sa ating mga mag-aaral (We ensure the what is taught and imparted to students is adequate and beneficial to them)," Aquino said.

Of having a senior high school track in the academe, Aquino added, "Sa pagkakaroon naman ng senior high school kung saan makakapili ang kabataang Pilipino ng specialized tracks para sa akademya, technical education, at sports and arts, ginagarantiya nating talagang handa silang humakbang para abutin ang kanilang mga mithiin." (Having senior high school years, where the Philippine youth can choose specialized tracks in academics, technical education, and sports and arts, guarantees that they are ready to move forward to reach for their dreams.)

Twenty-nine percent of the workforce are jobless or underemployed, according to the latest government data. Nearly 10 million Filipinos have been forced to seek better-paying jobs abroad.

The government said it was building tens of thousands of new classrooms, hiring nearly 18,000 teachers, and printing tens of millions of textbooks this year to implement the program nationwide.

The education department budget has been raised to P232 billion this year, up 44 percent from 2010 levels, largely to pay for the extra services, Aquino said.

Schools operated by the private sector must also begin implementing the reforms in the next school year, which starts in June.

Another major part of the reforms will be to teach in native languages from kindergarten until the third year of primary school.

The language of instruction will then gradually shift to English from grades four to six in primary school. Subjects will then be taught in English throughout high school.

In the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) portion on the K-12 program page, the law now allows the hiring of the following to help in the transition:

There has previously been criticism from some sectors, noting the additional cost of implementation and the possibility of aggravating problems in the educational sector. - Rappler.com, with the Agence France-Presse