Friday, April 29, 2011

Pabling, Cutie oppose K+12, raise risk of more dropouts

Pabling, Cutie oppose K+12, raise risk of more dropouts 
By Rebelander Basilan
Sun.Star Cebu
April 29, 2011

TWO Cebuano members of the House of Representatives expressed opposition to the 12-year basic education program during a public hearing yesterday.

Rep. Rachel “Cutie” del Mar (Cebu City, north district) said adding two years in high school may drive more students to drop out of school, while Rep. Pablo Garcia (Cebu Province, 2nd district) argued that the present curriculum is doing well, with Filipino professionals excelling abroad.

Instead of adding two years in high school, del Mar said the government can offer a free two-year information technology (IT) course to high school graduates, while Garcia suggested that the working age be reduced so that high school graduates can be employed legally.

“Adding another two years means a lot of expenses for all the students. A lot of our students come from the lower-income group,” del Mar said. She added that the IT course would allow students to immediately find jobs.

At par
Meanwhile, the Coalition for Better Education (CBE), a Cebu-based organization with members from different sectors, expressed their support for the new curriculum, which is dubbed K to 12 Basic Education Program.

CBE president Caridad Labe said the new curriculum, which will start next school year with the opening of mandatory kindergarten, will help Filipino graduates become at par with those of other countries.

During the public hearing at Capitol, several concerns were raised by parents, teachers and students.

Rofilo Toledo, an engineer from Danao City, said adding two years in high school will drive more families to poverty.

German national Helmut Haas, an English teacher married to a Filipina, said the government should first improve the instructional materials in schools.

Rep. Salvador Escudero III, chairman of the House committee on basic education and culture, which organized the public hearing, said the Philippines is the only country in Asia with 10 years of basic education. Other Asian countries have either 11 or 12 years of basic education.

He pointed out that the government has four to five years to address the problems of the education sector before the full implementation of the new curriculum.

Escudero noted that in 2009, only 25 percent of college graduates were employed, while 65 percent of those with technical and vocational courses were employed.

“It’s not a matter of being pro or against, it’s a matter of understanding the whole
issue because there are many misconceptions,” he said in an interview with reporters.

During the public hearing, Escudero noted that 20 of the richest people in the world were not able to finish college.

The new curriculum “will not delay the dreams of parents by two years; it will advance their dreams by two years,” he said.

There are two bills in Congress seeking for the adoption of 12-year basic education curriculum.

Escudero said if any of these bills is passed, the education’s share of the national budget can be increased. At present, education gets 12.6 percent of the national budget.

But Garcia said the government should consider the high drop-out rate in the country before adopting the new curriculum.

Short courses
“It’s not the number of years, it’s the content of education,” he said.

Del Mar pointed out, on the other hand, that most of the students at present tend to take short courses so they can find jobs immediately.

One of the bills she filed in Congress seeks to provide free two-year IT course for high school graduates.

Meanwhile, CBE officers stressed the importance of community participation in ensuring accessible and quality education.

“We need a wider education reform, if not revolution. With collective effort, we can achieve that,” Labe said in a press conference yesterday.

“Education of a child entails the help of the community,” added Grace Fer-reros, CBE vice president for internal affairs.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this August, the coalition vowed to continue delivering services to the education sector.

CBE was formed in 2001, through the efforts of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc., Aboitiz Group Foundation and the Philippine Business for Social Progress, in an attempt to reverse the low National Achievement Test scores in public elementary and high schools in Cebu Province.

Its major programs are the Center for Teacher Excellence, which equips teachers with modern ways of instruction, and the Involving Communities for Better Education, which promotes participation from different stakeholders.

The coalition has 36 institutional partners, which include Globe Telecom and Microsoft Philippines, and 243 individual members.

CBE executive director Marilou Flores said the coalition will monitor the implementation of the 12-year basic education cycle.