The Supreme Court (SC) has deferred ruling on the fate of the government’s K-12 program, a national 12-year basic education curriculum.
During en banc deliberations on Tuesday, the SC justices decided to wait for the chief justice before deciding on the issue that will affect millions of students and thousands of teachers nationwide.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno is currently in Singapore on official mission, and the Acting Chief Justice is Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
The SC en banc will deliberate on the petition against the K-12 program on March 24.
The petition, filed by the Suspend K to 12 Alliance, is asking the SC to nullify Republic Act (RA) No. 10533, also known as the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, as well as its Implementing Rules and Guidelines and Joint Guidelines.
It also asked the high court to declare void the Department of Education Memorandum No. 2, Series of 2015, which was issued for the implementation of the law in question.
The K-12 program mandates that all primary students must undergo one year of kindergarten, six years of elementary education, four years of junior high school, and two years of senior high school. This will be fully implemented in 2016.
The SC was also asked to immediately issue a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction to halt the K-12 program.
The petitioners pointed out that RA 10533 is illegal and unconstitutional, and the K-12 will entail an additional expenditure for poor Filipinos.
“Considering that more than 20 million Filipinos are poor, adding two more years to the basic education will just be an added burden for many families. Based on the statement of the [DepEd], 40 percent of senior high school students will be admitted to private schools because of the incapacity of the public schools to serve them, further making education as a business rather than as a right and is bound to serve only those who are capacitated,” the petitioners said.
Aside from this, they said the government is not ready to implement the program because of insufficiency of classrooms, facilities, instructional materials, and teaching and non-teaching personnel.
With this, the petitioners argued that the K-12 program will cause displacement and loss of work for education workers.
“RA No. 10533 fails to provide for ‘full protection to labor and promotion of full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all,’ which is mandated in Article XIII, Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution. The Constitution promotes work creation or protection and not work displacement or loss. In the implementation of this law, education workers face the risk of early separation, forced retirement, constructive dismissal, diminution of salaries and benefits, labor contractualization, and a general threat to self-organization,” the petitioners added.
In assailing the Implementing Rules and Regulations, Joint Guidelines and the DepEd memorandum, they argued that these “have no basis under the K-12 Law, particularly in terms of the provisions on lower compensation and retrenchment.”
The petitioners said that instead of adding more years to basic education, the government must focus on the quality of education and provide the necessary infrastructure, instructional materials and personnel support.