#BeyondElections2016 | Progressive teachers’ network Educators’ Forum for Development (EfD) asserted that the K-to-12 program is unconstitutional and illegal, and renewed calls for its suspension in a seminar-forum. Days away from the May polls, the educators also challenged electoral candidates to scrap the pro-big business K-to-12 and stand for national, mass-oriented, and scientific education.
During the forum dubbed “Elections 2016 and the Education Agenda”, EfD stated that the K-to-12 program violates major provisions of the Philippine constitution. For instance, the Department of Education (DepEd) voucher system to help Grade 11 students enroll in private schools violates Section 2 of the Philippine constitution which says that the State shall “establish and maintain a system of free public education in the elementary and high school levels”.
The DepEd voucher system called Government Assistance for Students and Teachers in Private Education (GATSPE) allots a maximum of P22,500 in financial assistance to senior high school (SHS) students towards private school enrollment. But the financial aid does not cover all school expenses, forcing students and their parents to pay out-of-pocket. The DepEd has admitted that private schools constitute almost 80% of SHS-ready institutions. Only 20% will be provided by public schools.
The K-to-12 program also violates provisions under Republic Act (RA) 10533 or the Basic Education Act of 2013, which supposedly gives the program its legal basis. Under RA 10533, the DepEd is required to conduct mandatory review and evaluation of its capacity to implement the program. But the fact that the SHS courses will be provided by private schools belies the supposed readiness of the State through the DepEd to fully-implement the program, said the group.
The K-to-12 program is the centerpiece education reform of the Aquino administration and is entering its sixth year of implementation with the enrolment of the first full batch of Grade 11 students entering SHS by June 2016. However, EfD and other education groups have assailed K-to-12 as promoting neoliberal education and seeking to continue the supply of cheap labor and young Filipinos to fit contractual, part-time or seasonal work for large local and foreign business interests.
All five Presidential candidates running in the 2016 elections support the continuous implementation of the K-to-12. Thus whoever will be elected must be challenged to hear critical voices on the program, said EfD.