DAVAO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Incoming Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has decided to support the K to 12 program currently being implemented by the Aquino administration, he told media Monday night, May 23.
Initially, he had been skeptical about it given criticisms from some sectors. Recently, he had asked for time to think about whether or not he would adopt the educational program.
“I said I was against it early on when it was being implemented. But some of the bright guys in DepEd (Department of Education) came to see me here in Davao and explained to me how we are lagging behind our neighbors,” Duterte said in a press briefing.
The K to 12 program stems from the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III.
It aims to provide Filipino students with a 12-year education cycle after kindergarten. 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.
K to 12 is supposed to be free for public school students although there are other indirect costs. Some sectors are complaining of its impact on poor families and employment of teachers.
Duterte said that K to 12 is needed in order to help Filipino students be at par with students of other nationalities.
“Karamihan dito, mga Chinese bright sa Math, ang mga Pilipino bright sa bolahan (Mostly, Chinese are bright in Math. Filipinos are bright in nonsense),” Duterte half jested.
The Supreme Court had earlier denied the petition of several groups asking to temporarily stop the government's K to 12 program.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro welcomed Duterte's decision to support the program.
"I am grateful and very appreciative that the new administration is supportive of the educational reforms that Department of Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and Commission on Higher Education, along with our stakeholders, have worked on the past 6 years," he said in a statement on Thursday, May 26.
The DepEd chief, who is currently attending the 9th ASEAN Education Ministers meeting in Kuala Lumpur, said the K to 12 reform must continue in order to "keep pace with the education standards of ASEAN and the world."
"I trust that the next administration will build on the gains and enhance the achievements made in the education sector, while taking on the new challenges in the ever-changing landscape in this part of the globe" Luistro added. – with a report from Jee Y. Geronimo/Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.