MANILA — Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday cautioned against suspending the implementation of the K to 12 Program as this will prove to be counter-productive to the future job prospects of the current crop of elementary and high school students.
Gatchalian made the statement in reaction to the move by some legislators to suspend the program until the more basic problems like lack of classrooms and study materials are rightfully addressed by government, particularly the Department of Education (DepEd).
The K to 12 Program is the more popular name of Republic Act 10533 which was signed into law by President Noynoy Aquino to address the problem of many college graduates in the country who cannot find jobs because of the inherent deficiency in their basic education.
“Many end up jobless because they do not have the skills required by jobs available in employed. The tertiary level, on the other hand, will give people specialization,” said Gatchalian, a majority member on the House committees on basic education and culture and on higher and technical education.
The Valenzuela solon stressed that delaying the program’s implementation will be much more detrimental to the economy.
“If people cannot find jobs after school, they will only increase the ranks of the unemployed, and thus add more burden to our economy instead of being productive citizens,” said the lawmaker in a statement.
The K to 12 program, as envisioned by DepEd, will not only prepare high school graduates for college learning but also help them gear up for next year’s ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) economic integration, which will knit the region into a single market and production base and allow for a free flow of goods, services, capital, and labor.
“The program will make our workforce competitive with their ASEAN counterparts,” he said even as he noted that the Philippines is the lone country in Asia with only 10 years of basic education.
According to Gatchalian, the gaps in education being raised by some legislators, could be addressed by increasing the budget for capital outlay.
“The benefits greatly outweigh the shortcomings. The government only has to step up its spending on education to address the gaps in classrooms, teachers, and learning materials. Malacanang can very well use its savings for this very urgent program” he said.
Under the K to 12 Program, students can choose from three tracks in the two years of senior high school added to the basic education curriculum. These are academic, technical-vocational-livelihood, and sports and arts. Students will also gain exposure in their chosen track.
To further cushion the potential impact of the program on the operations of higher education institutions (HEIs) as well as teaching and non-teaching personnel, Gatchalian urged the government to increase the P29.44-billion budget for the proposed Higher Education Sector Stabilization Fund (HESSF).
He also suggested that college teaching personnel be hired to fill the high demand for senior high school teachers during the interim period, when there will be no HEI freshmen for two school years starting 2016.
“By increasing funding for education it will be possible to improve physical learning inputs like classrooms, materials, and salaries at the same time as upgrading intellectual inputs like curricula and teaching methods,” the veteran solon pointed out.
The President briefly said in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) that the government is already preparing for the new education requirements of the K to 12 program.