• K-to-12 to cut teachers’ pay, schools’ profits

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    College-level faculty and non-teaching personnel may suffer pay cuts as a result of the K-to-12 program, a congressional leader said on Tuesday.

    Rep. Roman Romulo of Pasig City, the chairman of the House committee on higher and technical education, said the K-to-12 program, which adds two more years in high school, may also result in significantly reduced college enrolment in academic years 2016 to 2017 and 2017 to 2018.

    Owing to the drop in enrolment, colleges and universities across the country will suffer big financial losses once the controversial Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-to-12) program of the Aquino administration is rolled out by 2016, according to the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea).

    Given the extended years in high school to make graduates ready for employment even without college education, the Commission on Higher Education has reduced the general education curriculum (GEC) in college from a range of 51 to 63 units to 36 units, thus temporarily displacing the GEC faculty and non-teaching personnel.

    Romulo warned that the government’s plan to reassign the GEC faculty and non-teaching personnel to senior high school duties would also create problems since the salary of high school teachers differ from that of college teachers.

    The entry-level monthly salary of a teacher in secondary school under the Department of Education is pegged at P18,000—significantly lower the corresponding rate for college faculty members and non-teaching personnel of P28,000 to P30,000.

    “We can’t settle for the solution of lateral hiring and make them endure the pay cut. It would be unfair for those who are already earning P28,000 to categorize them back to entry level as this would affect their livelihood,” Romulo said during the weekly Ugnayan sa Batasan News Forum.

    “Aside from pay cuts, tenure is also a concern. They should be able to keep their tenured status and the benefits that go along with that because they have already worked hard for it,” Romulo added.

    The Aquino administration has earmarked a P29-billion Stabilization Plan to address the impact of the K-to-12 program. Of this amount, P10 billion will go to the schools, P17 billion to the teachers/faculty members, and P2 billion to non-teaching personnel.

    “When K-to-12 was approved, we were too focused on the students that we have overlooked the plight of the faculty and non-teaching personnel. These concerns should be addressed by the Stabilization Plan,” Romulo said in closing.

    While it adds two more years in high school, the K-to-12 program also reduces the college years of particular courses from four years to three years.

    In its financial study, Cocopea, one of the country’s largest umbrella organizations of private schools, has estimated at least P150 billion of worth of revenue losses from the enrollment drop for a period of five years.

    “Contrary to the general expectation, the lack of enrolment in college will not only be for two years. For a period of five years starting school year 2016-2017 until school year 2020-2021, there will be a total of eight enrolment years that will be lost. While the amount of losses that will be absorbed by the private colleges and universities vary, the financial impact is certain and inevitable,” lawyer Joseph Noel Estrada, legal counsel of Cocopea, said.

    “The P150-billion losses are based on eight student/ enrollment years lost during the five-year implementation of senior high school. As a matter of fact, the P29-billion stabilization fund as proposed by the Commission on Higher Education is not enough, but this is a big help to us anyway,” Estrada added.

    The education lawyer said no first year students will enroll in all private college and universities during the full implementation of K-to-12 curriculum in 2016; no first year and second year students in 2017; no second year and third year students in 2018; no third year and fourth year students in 2019 and; no fourth year students in 2012.

    In the absence of enrollees, Estrada said, the schools have no other option but to retrench some of their faculty, or to teach in senior high school, who might be affected by a massive displacement and terminations as a result of the K-to-12 implementation.

    He estimated that at least 30, 000 college faculty will be affected by the K-to-12 transition. Of that number, Estrada said, 70 percent are from Cocopea member-schools.

    “The government should be able to strike a balance between the interests of the faculty who stand to be affected by the lack of enrolment starting 2016 on one hand, and the sustainability of private colleges and universities on the other,” he said, adding that the private sector is in need of government intervention and support to address the labor implications caused by the new curriculum.

    Estrada also said that they support the CHEd’s move in creating a stabilization fund that aims to provide more financial assistance to college professors who might be affected by the K-to-12 transition.

    “We support that and we hope the Congress will fast-track the approval of the fund,” he said.

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