CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 August 2019

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Divergent views on the K-12 system

MANILA (SE): Bishop Broderick Pabillo lost out in his call for the newly implemented Kindergarten to Year 12 (K-12) educational system, adopted in The Philippines around two years ago, to be stopped for the time being while the Catholic Educators Association rejoiced, insisting that the programme must go ahead.

CBCP News reported that on March 9, Bishop Pabillo had written a letter to the chief justice, Maria Sereno, asking her to act on a petition filed by the Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities a year ago.

The K-12 programme adds two years to the regular school education system, which formerly stopped at year 10 and was followed by two years of college prior to qualifying for university.

Bishop Pabillo said, “As I speak now, parents and students are at a loss on how to shoulder the additional burden of K-12, with the students unable to receive a high school diploma and proceed to college, which they deserve.”

But on March 15, the court decided not to act on the petitions and refused to issue an injunction against them.

Brother Hun Erguiza, the president of the Catholic Educators Association, has been arguing, “We have to make this happen. Our nation, our people cannot afford to delay this any further.”

The association added that the K-12 system can also make Philippine students more competitive on the worldwide stage, which begs the question, are children in The Philippines primarily being educated in order to leave the country, or to work and contribute to development at home?

In setting up the programme, the president, Noynoy Aquino, said that his intention was to make a complete education more accessible to the general population so that young people would be more employable when they left school.

It also brings the system into line with international practice, which treats 12 years of schooling as the norm, rather than the 10, which was the former practice in The Philippines.

However, Bishop Pabillo thinks that its introduction is premature, as the education system continues to face perennial problems, such as lack of classrooms and a high student-teacher ratio, as well as low salaries for teachers.

Bishop Pabillo said, “These conditions are unacceptable in a just and democratic society, and the delays in the ruling have already caused much anguish and anxiety on the part of the affected education stakeholders.”

The salary issue is an important one, as it has seen many of the country’s finest teachers standing in classrooms in the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as drifting into the domestic sector in Hong Kong and other parts of the world.

He added, “It is clear that the K-12 law has failed to provide substantial safety measures for our college teachers and staff in regard to their labour and economic rights, which our constitution upholds,” he added.

Voicing its concern that many students will drop out as a consequence of the K-12, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of The Philippines previously called on the government not to forget the poor when implementing the programme.

It also asked the government to make sure that teachers are not displaced, because the programme is supposedly intended as an upgrade to Philippine education.

As a collegial body, however, the bishops stopped short of categorically stating if it is for or against the measure.

Anthony Coloma, the advocacy and information officer of Catholic Educational Association, noted, “The K to 12 reform is not the panacea, the elixir to all our problems. It would only level the playing field for our children and our children’s children in this age when the world has gone flat and global barriers have become fluid and almost free-flowing.”

“As an educator, we do not simply live by battling the inconveniences and the disruptions this reform would bring. We live drawn by our dreams to change the lives of our pupils and moved by the purpose to bring out the best in our students,” he said.

He advised that carping over the issue is not constructive, saying that the challenge now is to get on with the job.

 

Seems like K-12 is here to stay.

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