By Lilybeth G. Ison
MANILA, Aug. 12 (PNA) — The proposal of the Department of Education (DepEd) to expand the existing cycle of basic education from 10 to 12 years or the “K Plus 12″, drew mixed reactions from members of the House of Representatives.
Aurora Rep. Edgardo “Sonny” Angara Jr. on Wednesday said he welcomed the proposal as he agreed with the DepEd’s observation that much of the country’s unemployment woes are caused not only by the high rate of students who cannot go to college but mainly by their lack of skills and competencies even after completing secondary education.
Angara said that since many of the country’s secondary school graduates can hardly afford to go to college, the government might as well equip them with better skills and competencies to improve their chances of finding gainful employment even without any college degree.
In the long term, he said, the proposed expanded 12-year basic education cycle will actually reduce the number of college drop outs mainly caused by the high cost of college education because those who were employed after completing basic education can become self-sufficient in pursuing a college degree as working students.
“They can now raise enough tuition money to send themselves to college instead of asking it from their parents. The main reason why we have so many college drop outs is the high cost of college education and not too many Filipino parents can afford to send their children to college. This is true in many first world countries, where many college students are working on the side to support their studies. Most of them also take a year off after high school before attending university, sometimes to travel or experience the so-called real world before choosing to either work or study more. The DepEd’s plan will absolutely help our students,” he pointed out.
Angara said the DepEd’s “K Plus 12″ plan might be the best solution to solve not only the unemployment problem but also the people’s grinding poverty.
“Higher skills means better jobs, better jobs means more food on the table,” he said.
This early, the Aurora solon said, the DepEd should now start re-tooling the country’s school teachers to meet the instructional aptitude needed to teach an entirely new curriculum that will be provided under the planned 12-year basic education cycle.
“There might be a need to re-train our teachers and I hope whatever financial requirement for this re-training will be provided under the proposed 2011 General Appropriations Act (GAA),” said Angara as he expressed support for the DepEd’s plan to intensify its efforts to hire more public school teachers.
Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexi Nograles, however, said DepEd’s planned 12-year basic education cycle is ideal but is unrealistic under the present conditions of the country’s existing educational facilities and implementing it at this time will only drive more youths to drop out of school.
Nograles noted that although the spirit and intent of the planned 12-year basic education is very laudable as it increases the competence of those who completed basic education and therefore increasing their chance for job placements, but the government’s present public school system does not have enough classrooms, teachers and well-equipped research and educational facilities which are required for the effective implementation of the DepEd proposal.
“The reality on the ground is that some schools even have to divide their classes to morning and afternoon sessions to accommodate more students. In some places, classes are still being held under the trees or have to mix students from different levels just to accommodate all of them in one class. We need to modernize our public school system first before we could even consider expanding the cycle of our basic education system,” he pointed out.
“This plan is ideal but unrealistic and perhaps a misplaced priority at this time. In an ideal world, the proposed 12-year basic education is a very good idea. However, we must first address more immediate concerns like the lack of school buildings, textbooks, classrooms, laboratory equipment, computers and many other things. We don’t even have enough teachers to cover our present 10-year basic education cycle because many of them have gone abroad to work as caregivers,” he added.
The Davao City solon said that once the government has fully modernized the country’s public school system and has adequately addressed all shortage problems including the lack of teachers, the DepEd can pursue its 12-year basic education plan.
In the meantime, he said, “let’s keep our eyes on the ball and focus on what’s needed to be accomplished first. Once we are assured that there are no longer classrooms under the trees, then we are ready to have a 12-year basic education cycle.” (PNA)