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K-12 Review: Should Senior High School Be Abolished?
The Department of Education agrees that the K to 12 program should be reviewed, but only to improve its implementation and not scrap it as some groups want.
The plan of the House of Representatives to review the implementation of the K to 12 Basic Education Reform Program has renewed calls for a revamp, if not the total abolition, of the senior high school program.
The review is long overdue, according to Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) secretary general Raymond Basilio, who said that the K to 12 program “has only managed to worsen the crises in the Philippine educational system.”
“The addition of two years in basic education has only resulted (in) worse shortages in the educational system given the government’s consistent tack to scrimp on the education budget,” he said.
For the Federation of Associations of Private School Administrators (FAPSA), the program –implemented during the previous administration – has failed to live up to its promise.
FAPSA president Eleazardo Kasilag cited various problems, such as the supposed lack of coordination between the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in implementing the program.
“They are supposed to facilitate graduates… but students now just switch courses, making the senior high school tracks ineffective since they are not considered prerequisites in tertiary courses as initially promised,” he said.
He also noted the impact of K to 12 on private schools, citing several that have shut down supposedly due to the additional burden brought about by the program.
His proposal? Make K to 12 optional for private schools.
Kasilag said they are optimistic that their graduates would still be ready for college even without the additional two years.
But such proposals have yet to gain ground.
Even policymakers who have expressed dissatisfaction with the implementation of K-12 have yet to publicly call for the abolition or a major revamp of the program.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who expressed concern over the job readiness of K-12 graduates, said the House of Representatives would initiate a review of Republic Act (RA) No. 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, which instituted the reform.
“We in the House are of the consensus that K to 12 is not living up to its promise, which is, after you finish senior high school, you don’t have to go to college. You gain skills to be employed,” he said.
“Many schools still lack equipment, whether it is automotive, electrical or sports. So there are issues that we have to address,” Cayetano added, citing problems in the implementation of the technical-vocational-livelihood (TVL) track in senior high school that is supposed to prepare students for employment.
Since the previous Congress, the Makabayan bloc has been calling for a review of the program.
On the first day of the 18th Congress in July, party-list representatives France Castro (ACT Teachers); Carlos Isagani Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat (Bayan Muna); Sarah Elago (Kabataan) and Arlene Brosas (Gabriela) re-filed House Resolution No. 20 calling for an inquiry in aid of legislation on the status of the K to 12 implementation.
They cited issues faced by the DepEd in the implementation of the program, including shortages of classrooms, facilities, learning materials and equipment.
The lawmakers also noted the statements from business groups on the supposed lack of job readiness or competence for employment of the first batch of senior high school graduates.
In September, Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo – who was among those who pushed for the passage of the Enhanced Basic Education Act – filed House Resolution No. 335 calling for the conduct of a similar inquiry.
Among the reasons he cited was a study conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, which indicated inadequate preparation for the full implementation of the program, as well as the gaps in the tracks offered in public and private schools.
Weeks after Cayetano called for the review, Sorsogon Rep. and Deputy Speaker Evelina Escudero also filed House Resolution No. 437, which aims to direct the House committee on basic education and culture to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the implementation and policy effectiveness of K-12.
Escudero noted that the joint congressional oversight committee that should have been created to monitor the implementation of the K to 12 program has yet to be convened.
The three resolutions, currently pending before the House committee on rules, stressed the need for a review to enable Congress to assist the DepEd in achieving the objectives of the K to 12 program.
The pending proposals in the lower House follow a similar move conducted by the Senate.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, said the quality of education in the country remains low five years after the passage of RA 10533.
He called for measures to improve the basic education system after the Senate panel found that Grades 6 and 10 students scored low in the National Achievement Test held for the school year 2016 to 2017.
“We have to review the K to 12 curriculum. We have to review if the technical-vocational skills being taught under the K to 12 are the skills that the industry needs,” the senator was quoted as saying in a BusinessWorld report. “We have what we call a misalignment between what the industry needs and what is being taught in the K to 12.”
The DepEd, which is conducting its own review of the program, has welcomed the proposed to review its implementation, expressing hope that this would spur renewed commitment from stakeholders to achieve the goals of K to 12.
“Congress and the DepEd have worked closely together since the previous budget hearings to address the issues of the K to 12 program,” the agency said in response to Cayetano.
“A dedicated review session will provide an appropriate venue to comprehensively discuss concerns about the program and plot out corresponding solutions,” it added.
Earlier, the agency stood by its position that the program is a necessity and halting it “might prove detrimental to the accelerating and increasing demands in education.”
“The challenges still abound but the support of the national and local government, and of stakeholders in the private sector and the community, has been so overwhelming that it silences doubts and strengthens the resolve to move forward with change today,” it said in a statement last May in which it denied rumors that it would stop the senior high school program.
“As with any law, the implementation, amendment, expansion or repeal of the K to12 program is within the ambit of the legislative branch of the government, comprised of the Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives,” it added.
Despite challenges, the DepEd said the K to 12 program has resulted in numerous gains for the basic education system, including the high enrollment and transition rates in senior high school.
Former education undersecretary Dina Ocampo, in an article for OneNews.PH, also underscored the impact of the K to 12 program on the Filipino students.
The CHED likewise welcomed the proposed legislative review, with its chairman J. Prospero de Vera III saying it would answer questions such as those concerning subjects like Filipino.
“We would like to know how it is being taught in senior high and if there is a need to strengthen the teaching of language in the university level. We need to study the data,” he pointed out.
De Vera said they hope the review will produce data that will guide them in making policies at the higher education level.
“We want to find out the level of competency of senior high graduates because this will be used by the accepting universities to accept students,” the CHED chief said.
“What is happening now is that all the universities have their own admission tests. If there is an equivalent of SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) in high school, that can be used by the universities to complement their admission tests. It would be easier to determine what are the competencies of the applicants,” he added, referring to the pre-college standardized tests implemented in the United States.
Understanding Autonomy for Cordillera
What is autonomy?
In the most simplified way that Torogi can explain, it means the right to self-direction, self-determination self-rule, self-government or home rule with respect to local or internal affairs.
An example of autonomy in its smallest context is a family. A family is governed by the private decision of elders, parents, some or all of its members and the decisions are not subject to scrutiny or interference from outside authorities unless there is compelling reason.
In the first referendum of January 30, 1990, (general vote by the Cordillera electorate on a single political question and referred to them by direct decision through voting), it was only Ifugao Province that voted for self-rule, or autonomy.
In the second referendum held March 7, 1998, only Apayao Province chose autonomy.
What seems to be the reasons why other Cordillerans in other provinces in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) did not vote for autonomy?
In a survey conducted October 2007, it was revealed,
first, many did not understand autonomy, hence were undecided to vote for it;
second, many were not aware the Philippine Constitution commands for the creation of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras; and
third, many were not aware of the legislative power proposed under the autonomy.
As voiced in a nutshell by many Cordillerans who are laypersons, just like Torogi, “Alangan met nga ibotos mi ti saan naisplika iti panaka-awat mi. Ay ket nagbalin kamin a nga tanga!”
Usto met piman a! Why vote for something you don’t understand as revealing uncovered by the October survey. Such situation reminds of a conversation.
One of the employee wanted to take a leave and their division boss asked, “Bakit ka magli-leave?”
Employee answered, “Magpapakasal po ako, Sir.”
Boss: “At sinong tangang babae na di tinuruan ng magulang ang gustong magpakasal sa inyo?”
Employee: “Ang anak n’yo po, Sir!”
What Cordillerans will gain if our region, presently administrative in nature, becomes autonomous, or self-governing?
First, identity of the Cordillerans as a uniquely indigenous group of people will be historically and greatly reinforced and as a result, deeply appreciated and respected by others in the Philippines.
Remember, Cordillerans have long been associated with misconceptions. A glaring error long associated with us is that we have tails.
In this present age of Enlightenment, there are still ignorant non-Cordillerans who post on Facebook that Cordillerans have tails.
Only recently, a person who identified herself as Angela Delara posted on Facebook, saying among others, “Mga Igorot na taga bundok, mga may buntot. Mga walang kwenta kayong mga Igorot…”
Many who read Delara’s post were irate and reacted with vicious counter comments. Torogi pities this person for her total ignorance about the highlander indigenous people and pities her more for revealing her ignorance publicly on Facebook.
If anyone among you, good readers happen to know this person going by the name of Angela Delara, it would be prudent to give her good counsel for her own good sake.
Result of the identity of Cordillerans historically and greatly appreciated hence will stamp a permanent regional identity for the provinces composing CAR and further generates study of interest by non-Cordillerans to the history of the highlanders who have stood their ground, maintained their time-honored culture and tradition and were least influenced by the Spaniards in their 300 years of rule during the Spanish colonization.
Being autonomous, Cordillerans can greatly refocus their internal efforts in the total conservation of the unique Cordilleran environment.
Indigenous knowledge on environmental conservation has long been recognized to contribute to sustainability of production systems, resource conserving cultures like the “muyong,” and “ala-a” systems of the Ifugaos; “lapat” among Isneg and Tingguians; “inum-an,” “gen-gen,” “dayog,” “balkah,”” kinnibah,” “tuping and “pamattey” of the Ikalahans, among others.
Indigenous environmental systems in Cordillera can be good models in promoting conservation sustainability, for the forest management approach of the local people treat forest as “life shed,” where human existence is connected with land, forest and water.
Presently, the region is subject to Presidential Decree 705 or the Forestry Code, which, among others, failed to take into consideration insights of indigenous peoples and communities who have, for generations, settled on, developed and cultivated lands with slopes above 18 per cent.
Problems brought about by PD 705 to the region include forest management, land development, agriculture, commercial areas, housing, among others.
A strengthened identity of the Cordillerans will redound to the continuous growth of our culture.
Second, being autonomous, Cordillerans can work out policies or courses of action that responds to the internal needs of the region.
Let Torogi cite an example. A plan of action exceedingly suitable for lowland condition may not work if implemented in an upland site. But sad to express that such had happened in the past and continues to occur because the policy emanates or comes from higher government offices and there is less Cordillerans can do about such bureaucratic dilemma.
A good example of the above: Engineering a highland road, developing it and maintaining it is far more expensive compared to doing it in lowland setting and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is aware of such.
Being autonomous, the course of action for an action plan comes directly from the autonomous government which is in touch with the ground and knows the stark reality.
Within this periphery, relevant indigenous knowledge, systems and practices will thus be recognized and given importance for their application when policies for the region are developed by the autonomous government.
In the proposed autonomous government for the Cordillera region, the Regional Governor who will be elected will become a member of the President’s Cabinet, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and other agencies to be spelled out once Cordillerans vote for self-government.
Cordillerans need to be informed further, and more importantly, that if they do not get their acts together and go yes for autonomy, the region will continue to have an erratic and unsustainable growth. Why?
Let Torogi cite you the bare facts. Let us start with the Local Government Unit (LGU) Internal Revenue Allotment. At present, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) is given one of the lowest share. Basis of computation is land area and population.
Given that the region has one of the smallest area and population, the region’s share will always remain that small if Cordillerans will not embrace autonomy.
As to funding CAR, national agencies give funds to each region in the country based on national planning and budgeting standards. As a result, CAR presently receives one of the lowest share in the national budget.
Presently, too, it is the national government that enact laws, policies and other issuances that it deems suitable for all regions, like the Local Government Code of 1991 which serves as the basis for IRA computation, Forestry Code, Roxas Law and Payment of environmental Services.
Also, the national government has exclusive control in development and management of the country’s natural resources like extractive development projects formulated and implemented by national agencies and private firms without free, prior informed consent with local communities.
In the case of hydropower, it is the Department of Energy (DOE) which approves applications while it is the National Water Resource Board which issues water rights and water permits.
In the unique case of Cordillera, it happens to be the headwater source in Northern Luzon, cascading much needed water to the lowlands.
Third, all benefits of nationally paid employees shall not be diminished or lessened by reason of the creation of a regional autonomy. Budgetary needs of regional agencies where they belong shall continue to be provided by national government.
And no government employee will be dismissed or removed by reason of reorganization of the region.
Fourth, main reason behind the constitutional provision on the creation of regional autonomy is the development of the regions of CAR and Muslim Mindanao, both long neglected, and the legal justification to allocate more funding to speed up their socio-economic infrastructure development, to catch up with other regions.
Hence, upon creation of an autonomous Cordillera region, the national government shall provide a subsidy of ten (10) billion pesos every year for the first five years and five (5) billion for the next five years.
Moreover, there will be provision for the mode of distribution of the subsidy to the regional government, provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays.
Fifth, After the period of subsidy, the national government shall continue to provide sufficient budgetary allocation to the region in order to ensure its financial stability and sustenance.
Autonomy does not mean seceding from the national government. No, in fact, autonomy tends to strengthen the national government.
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