MANILA, Philippines – The full implementation of the controversial K to 12 program coincides with the transition period of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's administration.
But incoming education secretary Leonor Briones said Duterte's concerns now are mainly the students who are still out of school, and college teachers who might be displaced because of K to 12's senior high.
Duterte has decided to support the K to 12 program after being initially skeptical about it, given the criticism from some sectors.
Briones talked about Duterte's marching orders during her first press conference as incoming education secretary on Monday, June 6.
"Those who are out of the loop should not be left behind, and he's also very concerned about the teachers who might be displaced. Although...adjustments and preparations have been made for the past 4 years for teachers who fear that they will be displaced," Briones said.
But Briones said it's important first to find out the actual number of college teachers who will be displaced because of K to 12.
Data from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) showed 13,634 teaching staff and 11,456 non-teaching staff may be displaced because of Grade 11 and the expected drop in college enrollment.
Since 2015, the Department of Education (DepEd) has promised to prioritize displaced college workers in its hiring process.
While Briones acknowledged the contingency measures being adopted by the DepEd and the CHED, she said these have to be closely monitored "to ensure that identified challenges are met."
"It's really the parents that will have to bear the additional burden [of K to 12], and therefore provisions have to be made to lessen the burden for parents," she added.
On top of Duterte's marching orders, Briones said she will immediately look into the country's education budget.
"You cannot be talking about what you're going to do [without looking at the budget]," she said in an ambush interview after the press conference.
She said looking into the budget is crucial considering the demands of K to 12.
"The 2017 budget is already for the continuation of existing programs," explained Briones, who had earlier said both the 2016 and 2017 budgets are budgets of the present administration. (READ: Next president limited by Aquino admin budget for 2 years – Briones)
"It depends on what these programs are. Is K to 12 deserving to be continued, or should it be scrapped? I see that there are a lot of problems, but not necessarily that we have to discontinue," she added.
Briones is the lead convenor of Social Watch Philippines. She is also professor emeritus of public administration at the National College of Public Administration and Governance of the University of the Philippines Diliman.
"Social Watch Philippines has always insisted that education is severely underfunded even as it has the largest budget allocation. International standards require at least 6% of GDP to be allocated for education. Present calculations are at 3%," the incoming education secretary said. – Rappler.com
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.