MANILA, Philippines – The K to 12's senior high school program is drawing flak from critics because it might result in a higher dropout rate due to the added cost of two more school years.
His successor under the Duterte administration, Leonor Briones, said the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of the Department of Education (DepEd) should be expanded to cater to Grade 10 students who may not proceed to Grade 11.
But encouraging hard-to-reach learners and out-of-school youth to go back to school – even to the ALS – is difficult.
In 2012, the education department partnered with former CNN Hero Efren Peñaflorida to bring the Kariton Klasrum to out-of-school children and youth aged 5 to 14. For 24 meetings, the bridge program employs an alternative teaching method that aims to get children back to school.
During these sessions, learners play games, read books, hear stories, and learn proper hygiene and other life skills.
Now, Peñaflorida's Kariton Klasrum will also help dropouts in senior high school.
"Nag-open kami this year ng Kariton Senior High School, with the Department of Education pa rin, but it's a small-scale program pa rin na tina-try namin this year," Peñaflorida told reporters on Thursday, June 16, after the Kariton Klasrum's culminating activity at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
(We opened this year the Kariton Senior High School, still with the Department of Education, but it's still a small-scale program that we're trying out this year.)
Kariton Senior High School is now in operation! Thanks to everyone who helped us make this possible! @DepEd_PH https://t.co/AwdKb5dBwt — Efren Penaflorida (@karitonkid) June 13, 2016
"'Yun 'yung gusto naming target-in –'yung mga wala nang opportunity, kumbaga hindi kaya ng parents nila na masuportahan education nila, or maaaring at risk sila na mag-drop," he added.
(That's the group we want to target – those who have no opportunity, or those with parents who can no longer support their education, or may be at risk of dropping out of school.)
Even before the Kariton Senior High School, the education department and Peñaflorida's team had already started the Kariton Open High School which targets high school dropouts.
DepEd Undersecretary Mario Deriquito said Kariton Klasrum will soon be institutionalized within the department.
"Starting ngayong year na 'to, ilo-lodge siya sa isang bureau ng DepEd, 'yung Bureau of Learning Delivery, and then nakalagay siya sa Student Inclusion Division, so permanent na siya, isasama na rin siya [sa budget]," he explained on Thursday.
(Starting this year, we will lodge the program within one DepEd bureau, the Bureau of Learning Delivery, and it will be part of the Student Inclusion Division, so it will be permanent, and will be included in the budget.)
For now, the program has a special allocation under the 2016 budget, but by 2017, Deriquito said Kariton Klasrum will already be funded by the national budget.
To date, there are 59 Kariton Klasrum sites in Metro Manila, but the education department's target is to build up to 110 sites across the region.
The program, which was recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a promising Education for All practice, has already been replicated here and abroad. (READ: Gaps remain as PH misses 2015 education goals)
"Ang edukasyon kasi for us is a powerful tool para labanan 'yung kahirapan, kamangmangan. At hindi hadlang na porke't mahirap sila, porke't wala silang pagkakataon, hindi nila ma-access 'yung education. Meron tayong puwedeng gawin, kahit doon sa simpleng bagay, para maibigay natin 'yung edukasyon na para sa kanila," Peñaflorida said.
(For us, education is a powerful tool to fight poverty and ignorance. Poverty and lack of opportunities should not stand in the way for people not to access education. We can do something, even with simple things, so that we can provide the education people deserve.)
Deriquito, for his part, said he believes the Kariton Klasrum will continue under the new administration, since Briones has already put premium on ALS even before assuming office. – 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.