At least 16 million Filipinos or 40 percent of the country’s labor force did not finish high school, according to Secretary Leonor Briones of the Department of Education (DepEd).
Briones on Friday said the shortcoming is one of the challenges that the DepEd seeks to overcome, starting with implementation of the K-to-12 program, during presentation of the department’s proposed P543-billion budget for 2017 before the House appropriations panel.
The K-to-12 program implements additional two years in high school (Grade 11 and Grade 12) and allows the students to choose from five contextualized subject tracks: academic, technical-vocational, livelihood, arts/design and sports.
The program aims to make the senior high school graduates employable.
“This 16 million is two-fifths of our labor force. This is our responsibility, and all of us who are committed to achieving development have to address this challenge,” Briones said.
She added that she even encountered a 45 year-old woman from a province in southern Philippines who cannot read and write.
The woman’s husband, a drug addict, was killed by her brother.
The couple had four children, but three of them died of dengue while one died of diarrhea.
“This shows that we have to reach out to them [out-of-school] children or adults. Not only because they deserve it [education], but it is our constitutional mandate to uphold education for all,” Briones, a former National Treasurer, said.
She, however, sees a bright spot because at least 1,517,610 million students are enroled in Grade 11 of the Senior High School under the K-to-12 program, which was implemented this year.
Of the 1.5 million, 1.4 million completed Grade 10 while the rest were previous dropouts who went back to school thru the Balik-Aral program.
“This is good news because we are just anticipating one half [of that figure to enrol]. We thought if we had 700,000 enrollees, we would already have reached our goals,” Briones said.
“Another good news is that 60 percent of these enrolees [in Senior High School]chose the academic track. We see a strong academic pool, and that means it is very clear that the students and the parents are looking forward to sending their children to college,” the Education secretary added.
Briones said the DepEd is pleasantly surprised that the predicted massive displacement of college teachers as a result of the K-to-12 implementation did not happen.
She added that the K-to-12 program was even able to create 36,461 teaching items in Senior High Schools.
In addition, 3,950 higher education teachers were hired to teach in Senior High Schools while 928 others were also hired in Senior High Schools thru the Priority Lane Program.
The government has projected that at least 22,000 to 25,000 college teachers will be displaced by K-to-12 program.
“So far, at least 2,965 were displaced and the government has allocated P500 million for the compensation of those who will be replaced,” Briones said.
LLANESCA T. PANTI