Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Tuesday strongly criticized and opposed the implementation of the Department of Education's (DepEd) K to 12 basic education program.
"This K to 12 program apparently is being forced on everybody else, on the parents, the schoolchildren and the teachers without the enabling law," Trillanes said during the day's Senate committee hearing on bills regarding education.
"I'm really sad that we're even talking about this. This is a no brainer from all perspectives.
For a third world country, a developing country, this should have not been placed on the table to begin with," he added.
The K to 12 program adds two years to the elementary and high school curriculum to give students the needed skills for work, should they decide to skip college. The DepEd had said that the K to 12 program will only be implemented in the Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 7 levels this year. It added that Grades 11 and 12 will be implemented in 2016. 10-year basic education program
During the hearing, DepEd Undescretary Yolanda Quijano explained that the Philippines is one of only three countries in the world who still implement a 10-year basic education program.
"We are not generally meeting the standards that is asked of us in the international community," Quijano said.
Trillanes, however, questionned this, saying Filipino workers are in demand overseas.
"Why do we need to change the basic education program if we have OFWs who are in demand because of their skills? Then it means we're satisfying the requirements as far as quality is concerned," he said.
He likewise said that he, along with other public officials, were products of the 10-year basic education program and that they turned out fine.
"You're saying we're intellectually inferior? That first reason can't hold, you better come up with another one," said Trillanes, a former Navy officer.
Quijano tried to argue that the salary of those with 10-year basic education was lower than those who underwent a 12-year program, but was immediately shut down by the senator.
"If the problem is the quality then maybe you should look somewhere else, like the lack of teachers. Probably we can think of something else instead of just coming up with this ivory tower solution that is completely not grounded," he said.
"You hire teachers first, fill up the requirements, the backlog for classrooms and all that then we start talking about all of these innovations," he added. Export graduates
Trillanes then asked Quijano if it was the policy of the administraton to export graduates and not satisfy the country's own requirements.
The DepEd official replied "not really" but that many Filipino graduates would like to go abroad to work.
Trillanes, however, said the solution is to provide opportunities in the country.
"You now have kids growing up without parents... let's not tinker with this experimental program and force it on everybody," he said.
But with the K to 12 program, Quijano said even high school graduates will be able to get jobs in the country easily.
Trillanes was unconvinced, saying she's contradicting herself by saying college graduates have a hard time looking for jobs but that high school graduates won't.
"I'm sorry but that's the lamest you came up with...it's not cohesive," he said.
He likewise asked DepEd whether it considered that the country would not have college graduates for two years in the future.
Quijano said their technical working group has been working on a transition management plan for 2016.
"The reality on the ground is that no matter how you come up with fancy words, technical words transition program whatever the bottomline is we won't have college graduates, college freshmen for two years," said Trillanes.
Quijano said that the government will pay for the cost for the schooling of grades 11 and 12 but that parents will still have to shoulder the allowance and transportation costs. — RSJ, GMA News