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House approves K-12 bill on final reading

MANILA, Philippines - With a 198-8 vote, the House of Representatives on Monday, November 19, passed on third and final reading the K-to-12 bill that will add two years to the country's 10-year basic education. 

House Bill 6643 will institutionalize the 12-year system and require students to undergo kindergarten, 6 years in elementary (grades 1 to 6), 4 years in junior high school (grades 7 to 10), and two years in senior high school (grades 11 to 12). The Senate version of the bill was sponsored in October. 

Eight lawmakers voted against the bill. They are Davao Oriental Rep Thelma Almario, Bayan Muna party-list Reps Teddy Casiño and Neri Colmenares, Gabriela party-list Reps Emmi De Jesus and Luz Ilagan, Anakpawis party-list Rep Rafael Mariano, Kabataan party-list Rep Raymond Palatino ACT Teachers party-list Rep Antonio Tinio. 

The House body had to recount the votes as some solons misheard the measure they were voting on. 

Rep Ilagan raised concerns about Deped's capacity to fund the program, pointing out that the estimated budget of P334 million needed to fund K-to-12 is more than the education allocation for next year. 

"The budget of the Department of Education for next year is only 292 billion, how will we implement this properly?" she said. 

Instead of reforms, the proposal might end up aggravating the problems of the education sector, Rep Palatino said.  

"Instead of rushing, my proposal is that we review first the implementaion of universal kindergarten program, Deped's gradeschool program and finally, the final testing of K-to-12 for this school year," he said, noting that Deped can still continue implementing the program even without legislation. 

Deped launched the program this year. With the country being the last in Asia to adopt a 12-year basic education system, the bill seeks to place the Philippines in line with international standards. 

But K-12 is opposed by some sectors because of concerns, among others, that additional school years would further burden parents.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro, however, said that the measure will boost employment for high school graduates.  - Rappler.com