Solon: Multibillion-peso budget to help DepEd prepare for K to 12 implementation
Despite lingering problems in the Department of Education’s preparations for the implementation of the K to 12 program, a lawmaker said he is confident the agency will be ready in time for June next year because of the hefty budget the government has allotted for it.
Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian said DepEd is capable of addressing the shortage of classrooms and teaching personnel in public basic education institutions this year since the agency has been allotted a P53.9-billion budget for K to 12 preparations.
The amount is expected to cover the the construction of 31,728 classrooms and the repair of another 9,500 in public schools, the installation of 13,586 water and sanitation facilities, and 455 technical-vocational laboratories, as well as the procurement of 1.3 million chairs.
Gatchalian, a member of the House committee on basic education and culture, said Congress is also preparing a P29-billion transition fund for the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to create more jobs for teaching and non-teaching personnel that may get displaced once K to 12 program starts.
The lawmaker said the sizable funds allotted for K to 12 preparations will help DepEd remain on track in preparing for the rollout of the new education initiative.
“I am positive that the DepEd will overcome these logistical challenges in implementing the program,” told reporters at the weekly news forum at Serye restaurant.
Over the weekend, Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz backed a group of parents gathering signatures for a petition asking the Supreme Court to stop implementation of the new curriculum.
The parents claim they were not consulted before the law creating the curriculum was enacted.
“[The lack of consultation] can be a good basis for a challenge as the consultations before and after the enactment of the law were inadequate. More importantly, the commitments for the law’s proper implementation remain inadequate and incomplete,” he said.
LPG-MA party-list Rep. Arnel Ty has also criticized the government for failing to fill almost 200,000 vacant government positions, the majority of which, he said, are most likely positions for public elementary and high school teachers.
“We have tens of thousands of licensed teachers who are totally jobless,” Ty said. “In fact, some of these registered teachers have become so desperate, they’ve been driven to work in private schools for as low as P7,000 per month.”
'Eyes on the prize'
DepEd is also set to introduce a voucher program for incoming senior high school students to subsidize their tuition fee in private high schools, or state universities and colleges, according to the agency’s mid-2015 report.
While admitting there are still various areas the DepEd can improve on in preparing for the K-12 program, Gatchalian acknowledged the necessity of adding two more years to the country’s basic education system to make Filipino students competitive with their counterparts worldwide.
“We have to keep our eyes on the prize, which is an education system that rivals the best systems in the world in terms of equal access and learning outcomes. In all honesty, we will have to make certain sacrifices today if we want to reach our goal,” he said.
Republic Act 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, requires students to undergo kindergarten, six years of elementary, four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school. It will be rolled out in school year 2016-2017.
Globally competitive students
According to Gatchalian, the K to 12 program is designed to make students more employable after graduation as it introduces different tracks of specialization in preparation for college or actual employment.
“[A] goal of K to 12 is make our students globally competitive. Kahit mangibang-bansa sila after graduation, kaya nilang makipagsabayan sa ibang mga lahi dahil may sapat ang taon na ginugol nila sa paaralan,” he said.
Under the K to 12 program, students in senior high school may specialized in academics, sports, arts and design, and technical vocational livelihood.
They will also undergo immersion, which may include earn-while-you-learn opportunities, to provide them relevant exposure and actual work experience in their chosen track. — Xianne Arcangel/JDS, GMA News
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