In a recent round table interview with Inquirer editors and reporters, Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo said the DepEd should address the complexities surrounding the education reform program—including the lack of classrooms and facilities—to ensure that students are properly educated.
According to Romulo, citing the birth pains of the K-12 is no excuse, especially with some 1.1 million public school students shouldering the burden that would come with an additional two years of high school, such as additional expenses for school necessities.
“It’s easy to say that, correct, there are birth pains. But for 1 million to 1.1 million students in public high schools, they will be the ones to bite the bullet, not us. Are we sure they will be able to afford two more years that would provide no value added because the program is not ready?” Romulo said, who is running for senator in the May elections.
He said the K-12 program is a good concept but the Philippines is not ready to implement it given the lack of classrooms and facilities.
Even the voucher system that would send students from overcrowded public schools to private high schools may not be enough, he said.
“I prefer that the DepEd admits it’s not ready, that it won’t be able to provide quality education. Maybe after one year, two years, they can implement it. At the end of the day, if it’s not ready, it would just be a burden,” he said.
“The DepEd should try to do solutions as quick as possible. They know the problems… They have to do something,” he said.
“If we don’t point out the mistakes, the shortfalls, the shortcomings now, what will happen is they will proceed with what they have. That’s exactly why we have to be critical, so that they will take steps to improve the system they have now,” he said.
The Supreme Court earlier denied pleas to issue a temporary restraining order to stop the K-12 program, paving the way for the DepEd to implement the two additional years of high school by June. That is, unless the court issues a ruling on the petitions questioning the program before the next school year starts.
Romulo noted that the department’s expectation was that nearly half—or about 48 percent—of the senior high school students would take the vocational-technical education track, which is supposed to provide them with skills that would enable them to get a job after graduating.
But he said there may not be enough jobs available for them. He noted that a memorandum of agreement between education officials and a business group identified the local industries that may consider the technical-vocational high school graduates, but it did not identify the industries’ absorptive capacity.
College teachers affected
“Are there industries in any locality that will be able to absorb a large amount of graduates? Assuming they could not be absorbed, what would they do?” he said.
Romulo, who is chair of the House committee on higher education, stressed the importance of the issues concerning the K-12 program which, he said, would also affect college teachers.
The teachers could lose their jobs in the first two years of the program because there would be no freshmen enrolling in college at that time, he said.