School year 2011-2012 is the first school opening under the PNoy administration.
The government may be new, but the problems of education remain the same. The stars of this crisis are the lack of teachers, classrooms, toilets and school desks. Look at these numbers:
These numbers are based on Dep Ed.
In front of Batasang Pambansa, at Batasan Hills National High School, each class has 80 to 100 students, with many classes without school chairs, and students seated on the floor. Also near the Batasan, at Patayas B Elementary School, each of their 24 classrooms have been divided into two, and 60 to 70 students are crammed into those half-classrooms.
In other words, on its first year, the PNoy administration has failed to respond to the problem of shortages in the educational system, and Secretary Armin Luistro’s promise to Congress that they will fix these shortages in the first two years of this administration is far from happening.
But the focus now is on the Aquino administration’s only program for education, K+12. This year marks the beginning of K+12’s implementation, particularly universal kindergarten or kindergarten for all five-year old children.
We are united on the importance of universal kindergarten. This is a crucial step in lessening the number of students who stop in the first four years of elementary school. Last year, 1.5 million children were enrolled in kindergarten: 500,000 in private schools and 1M in public schools. This year, Dep Ed opened the doors of kindergarten education to 1M more 5-year old students.
In the past six months, the Dep Ed aggressively promoted and enjoined the public to enroll their children. This is a historical moment when the State decides to shoulder kindergarten for all, especially for the poor. For the longest time, only those who are well-off and the rich could afford kindergarten.
This is why it’s in the interest of all to implement universal kindergarten properly. Sadly, based on what we are witnessing on the first few weeks of classes, this isn’t happening.
Let’s begin with budget. In the 2011 GAA, only 2.33 billion was allocated for early childhood education. Because of this there is a lack of 34,900 teachers and 26,500 classrooms for kindergarten.
How does Dep Ed respond to this problem? On May 4, Secretary Luistro released Dep Ed Order No. 37, the “Policies and Guidelines on the Implementation of the Universal Kindergarten Education for SY 2011-2012.” This is how he proposes to respond to the lack of classrooms:
Does this sound like the policy of a good credible government? They will enjoin all 5-year olds to enroll in kindergarten, when there are no classrooms to put them in, and instead they will be forced into “any available spaces”?
And to respond to the lack of kindergarten teachers, Dep Ed Order No. 37 states that Dep Ed will use Kindergarten Volunteer Teachers. These are the requirements for becoming such:
Notice that Dep Ed doesn’t require a PRC license of its volunteer teachers, a license that can only be obtained by education graduates who pass the Licensure Examination for Teachers. In other words, it’s now Dep Ed policy to hire unqualified and unlicensed teachers to teach kindergarten. Would we allow an unlicensed nurse to work in a hospital? Would we allow a building to be built by an unlicensed engineer? Why is Dep Ed allowing unlicensed teachers into our classrooms?
This is not just a shameless act of sacrificing the quality of education, this is a clear violation of the law, particularly RA No. 7863 which is the “Philippine Teachers Professionalization Act of 1994.” Section 27 states:
“No person shall practice or offer to practice the teaching profession in the Philippines or be appointed as teacher to any position calling for a teaching position without having previously obtained a valid certificate of registration and a valid professional license from the Commission.”
According to Dep Ed, volunteer teachers will be paid an honorarium of P3,000 per month.
It is obvious that this is unjust, if not inhuman, compensation. In fact the lack of applicants for volunteer kindergarten teacher is proof of how low this compensation is.
As representative of teachers, I condemn this scheme of hiring volunteer teachers, which is even worse than contractualization, and which disregards professional qualification in teaching, as well as establishes the government’s refusal to justly compensate teachers.
Nakalulungkot mang sabihin, pero dahil sa mga nabanggit, malinaw na “walang K” ang K+12 ng administrasyong PNoy. Walang kahandaan, walang kalidad, at walang karapatan.
If this is the way PNoy’s government will implement its flagship educational reforms, then it is clear that K-12 should not push through, and our Filipino children should not be forced into the program.
Rep. Antonio Tinio’s Privilege Speech on School Opening and K+12,Batasang Pambansa, 6 June 2011. Translated from Filipino, 17 June 2011, slightly edited.