Gatchalian, a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition or NPC, said the awareness drive will help students and their parents know the positive effects of the Republic Act No. 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act, which is widely known as “K to 12 Law”.
He lamented that DepEd and CHED were not aggressive enough in implementing their supposed “Communications Plan” for the “K to 12 Program” since affected teachers and concerned parents were the once who have been getting media attention to air their disagreement with the additional two years in high school.
“Sad to say, the DepEd and CHED have been losing the media war on the ‘K to 12 Program’ and members of the academe who are against the program are the ones getting the good publicity and even the Supreme Court is sympathetic with the affected college instructors,” Gatchalian explained.
A member for the House Committees on Basic Education and Culture and on Higher and Technical Education, Gatchalian maintained the positive effects of the “K to 12 Program” to Filipino students as a whole far outweigh the so-called negative effects being played in the media by those who are pressing for the suspension of the program.
He noted that the “K to 12 program” is a necessary springboard to have an educational system that rivals the best systems in the world in terms of equal access and learning outcomes as it introduces different tracks of specialization in preparation for college or actual employment.
“We have to keep our eyes on the prize, which is an education system that rivals the best systems in the world in terms of equal access and learning outcomes. In all honesty, we will have to make certain sacrifices today if we want to reach our goal tomorrow. We need to use foresight, and we need to exercise strong political will to push ahead with challenging but meaningful programs such as this,” he emphasized.
Under the “K to 12 program”, students in senior high school may choose among three tracks: in Academic; Technical-Vocational-Livelihood; and Sports and Arts. Senior high school students will also undergo immersion, which may include earn-while-you-learn opportunities, to provide them relevant exposure and actual work experience in their selected track.
“The program will also decongest the cramped 10-year education program and allow students to learn completely at their own pace, especially on Math and Science,” said Gatchalian, one of the few legislators who are outspoken in his belief that the “K to 12 Program” is the best thing that can happen for the Philippine educational system.
Gatchalian said the support recently thrown by seven local and foreign business groups to the government’s “K to 12” enhanced basic education program is a big boost for the program and should prod the DepEd and CHED to be more aggressive in soliciting support from various sectors.
“K to 12 will foster the development of competent graduates who will join the workforce and contribute to national competitiveness. With this in mind, we the members of the Philippine business community reiterate our support for the continued and proper implementation of the “K to 12” reform,” the groups said in a joint statement issued Friday.
The statement of support was signed by the Management Association of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Philippines, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines, and Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines.
To effectively implement the “K to 12” curriculum, the business groups also called on the DepEd, CHED, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and the Department of Labor and Employment to address the challenges of the systematic reform.
These challenges include: the potential displacement of tertiary faculty and staff during the 2016-2021 transition period; the possible closure of higher education institutions (HEIs), particularly small colleges, due to significant revenue losses; and the perception that the government is not fully prepared to meet the logistical requirements of the law such as faculty and staff, facilities and equipment, and learning materials. (R. Burgos)