MANILA, Philippines – Student protesters disrupted a Department of Education activity led by Secretary Armin Luistro in Quezon City on Wednesday, May 20, and used it as a platform to vent their anger against the controversial K to 12 program.
Luistro was leading the third day of the annual Brigada Eskwela in Carlos L. Albert High School in Quezon City when student protesters interrupted the program.
"K to 12 ni Aquino, ibasura! (Trash President Benigno Aquino III's K to 12!)" a protester shouted in the middle of Luistro’s speech before Brigada Eskwela volunteers.
"Maraming 'di nakakapag-aral dahil sa K to 12! (Many can't go to school because of K to 12)" another protester shouted.
During the protest, the students said families will have to shell out up to P20,000 for senior high school – the two additional years of K to 12. The added burden, they said, could result to more dropouts in the coming years. (READ: Expect higher dropout rates due to K to 12 – Trillanes)
But despite being disrupted by the protesters, Luistro welcomed what he called the "discordant voices" which he said come with education reforms, especially major ones such as the shift to the K to 12 curriculum.
"Sa demokrasya, ganyan talaga. Dapat 'di tayo matakot diyan, kasama 'yan, lalo na sa isang pangmalawakang reporma na isinusulong (That really happens in a democracy. We shouldn't be afraid of criticisms, that's part of it, especially with the major reforms that we are pushing for)," he told reporters.
He added: "In fact, nakakatakot diyan, meron kayong pagbabago, merong reporma, tapos walang bumabatikos. That's more dangerous. That means nobody is interested, they're indifferent. That's worse."
(In fact, I would worry if there are changes and reforms but no one is criticizing them. That's more dangerous. That means nobody is interested, they're indifferent. That's worse.)
Over 7,000 schools all over the Philippines will offer the K to 12 program's senior high school to at least 1.2 million students starting 2016.
Luistro, however, said "no one can stop" the program at this point, especially since both government and the private sector have already made substantial investments to implement what supporters say is a long overdue reform in basic education.
Brigada Eskwela is a nationwide voluntary effort which encourages the participation of teachers, parents, and the community to do clean up and repairs in public schools. – 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.