By Yvonne T. Chua, VERA Files
An association of school teachers has called for a stop to the implementation of the government's K-12 basic education program, citing the absence of a law authorizing the program and the "disastrous" partial implementation of universal kindergarten last year.
The Department of Education is rolling out Grades and 7 of the K-12 curriculum in public elementary and high schools when classes open on Monday.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers called the K-12 program "ill prepared and ill conceived."
"The curriculum is not yet ready, funds are insufficient to cover the basic inputs such as shortages on teachers, classrooms, textbooks, chairs and sanitation facilities," the ACT said in a statement.
The teachers said they had complained to Malacanang how the more than a million kindergarten pupils and thousands of volunteer teachers "suffered" as a result of DepEd's lack of preparation in introducing universal kindergarten, but were ignored. Volunteer teachers were paid allowances of only P3,000 to P6,000, which were delayed, it said.
The ACT warned that the introduction of the new curriculum in the first and seven graders will bring out "more chaos" and is a "bigger disaster in the making."
"Teachers who will handle Grade I and First Year high school students declared that the curriculum is not ready and the trainings were hastily done. Kits and instructional materials were not ready, how much more the books that should be used come school opening?" it said.
In seeking a half to the implementation of K-12, the teachers asked the DepEd and Malacanang to prioritize the development of quality kinder education program, which was legalized only on Feb. 27 this year.
It said the new curriculum should be based "a more serious, comprehensive and an in-depth study, formulation and preparation (and) deeper and more extensive testing and determination of the fundamental problems of the education system in particular and our society as a whole."
A commission with "credibility, authority and funds" to do this should be created, it added.
For the kindergarten program, the ACT sought least 30,000 new regular teaching items for kindergarten, with salaries equivalent to those received by Teacher 1 in the Salary Standardization Law 3, instead of hiring contractual and volunteer teachers.
It also said Grade 1 and other grade level teachers who would teach the kinder students should receive additional compensation, equivalent to 25 percent of their basic pay, based on the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers.
The teachers also proposed a class size of 25 pupils, with one teacher aide per class who would considered "volunteer" teachers.
The ACT also called on the government to address perennial problems in public education:
- Fill in shortages of teachers (132,483), classrooms (97,685), sanitation facilities (153,709) and instructional materials.
- Double the budget for Maintenance, Operating and Other Expenses of schools .
- Upgrade salaries of teachers, including a P6,000 increase in the base pay of personnel.
- Provide a budget for education not lower than United Nations standard of 6 percent of the gross national product.
(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.)