• Can rich kids afford to sidestep K-to-12 program?

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    THIS is a question I have been longing to ask Education Secretary Armin Luistro.

    I have been hearing some very disturbing reports that a lot of our more affluent students who are not even graduating from high school, as early as Grade 8 or 9, have been taking college entrance exams in some private colleges purportedly because they accept enrollees who have finished Grade 10, never mind Grades 11 and 12, as required by the Depart of Education’s new curriculum.

    Under the enhanced basic education program of the Department of Education—called K to 12 or Kindergarten plus Grades 1-12—a student will be required to undergo kindergarten, six years of elementary, four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school.

    The implementation of universal kindergarten began in school year 2011-2012, followed by a new curriculum for Grade 7 in school year 2012-2013.

    School year 2016-2017 will mark the nationwide implementation of the Grade 11 curriculum, to be followed by the Grade 12 curriculum in school year 2017-2018.

    Is this why parents who can afford to send their kids to these expensive private colleges can skip Grades 11 and 12 at this time because these grade levels have yet to be implemented?

    But what about the majority of parents who could only afford public schools? They have to toe the line and go through the entire K to 12 program because they can’t afford the loopholes these expensive colleges are taking advantage of? Kawawa naman sila. Pasensya na lang?

    When the Department of Education started implementing the K to 12 basic education program I was one of the critics who asked why the government was doing it when it wasn’t ready for it.

    In fact, at the time, the bill that should mandate K to 12, guide its implementation and provide its budget was still pending in Congress.

    Indeed, much of the delay in passing the bill and enacting it into law was due to opposition from parents and stakeholders on the additional expenses that would be incurred for an extended basic education cycle and the lack of preparation for it by the government.

    I, like many others, argued that the government must first solve the shortages in classrooms and facilities, textbooks and teachers.

    Obviously, K to 12 can’t work without teachers to teach subjects, textbooks for students to read or classrooms to hold classes in. For that matter, no curriculum can work without these basic needs, which is why our education system has been in such a sorry state to begin with.

    But our questions and opposition had been rendered mute when President Aquino signed the K -to-12 law (Republic Act No. 10533) in May 2013, thereby institutionalizing the major curriculum reform.

    Now we can only hope that the government would deliver on its promise that the K-to-12 program would not be an added burden to students who were already struggling to finish the previous curriculum, but would instead be a boon to their efforts to be more competitive in 21st century workplaces.

    But the report that rich kids can afford to dodge the burden of an additional two years while the poor folks can’t really rankles.

    We know why these private colleges and universities are quietly making adjustments to accommodate students who intend to skip Grades 11 and 12. We can understand it too.

    Because they stand to lose up to P150 billion due to decreased enrollment over five years once senior high school is fully implemented in 2016.

    The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea) said that with the start of the added two-year senior high school, colleges would have no freshmen enrollees in school years 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.

    The decreased enrollment is expected to carry over in the next three years or until school year 2020-2021, Cocopea said.

    Some 30,000 college faculty and personnel face the prospect of layoff by 2016, although some colleges have already begun to retrench faculty.

    The Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities projected more than 85,000 faculty members may lose their jobs starting 2016.

    They said that based on their estimates, universities and colleges will lose 500,000 freshman college enrollees and more than 300,000 sophomore college enrollees once the implementation of the senior high school program starts in 2016.

    Is this–the loss of jobs and revenue for colleges and universities–something the Education department seriously considered before making the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) or before institutionalizing the K-12 program?

    Did they consider the loopholes too, which puts public school kids and poor, harried parents at a disadvantage, because only the rich can afford them?

    By the way, it is important to note that no company is allowed to lay off employees in lieu of anticipatory loss as it would be in violation of Article 283 of the Labor Code.

    Teachers who would be laid off because of the K-12 implementation have a legitimate case or grievance.

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