CEBU CITY – Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian is firmly supportive of the Aquino government’s K to 12 Program despite the continuing education gaps, saying the benefits outweigh the costs.
“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,” Gatchalian, a majority member of the House Committees on Basic Education and Culture and on Higher and Technical Education, said in a speech delivered before members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or IBP over the weekend.
“By passing the K to 12 Law, we have made a collective commitment to pursuing reforms in formal education that are ambitious and innovative in this jurisdiction. 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,” said Gatchalian amid applause from IBP members who attended the annual convention.
Gatchalian, an education advocate, pointed out that one of the adverse effects of the program is the massive displacement of teaching and non-teaching personnel.
In news reports, 55,480 teaching staff and 22,838 non-teaching staff may be displaced as the first batch of students enter Grade 11 in 2016 and Grade 12 in 2017, meaning there will be no college freshmen in those years.
There will also be no students in other college levels until the first batch of students graduate from senior high school. Things will only normalize come School Year 2021-2022.
Gatchalian said the benefits of the K to 12, such as making Filipino students globally competitive, would offset the sacrifices that have to be made in order for the program to be a success.
“The benefits of K to 12 in the long run will compensate for the problems that we will face in the short term. The Philippines needs K to 12, and we need it now,” the Valenzuela City representative said.
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Gatchalian assured affected teaching and non-teaching personnel that the government will implement solutions to such adverse effects. For one, the Department of Education will hire more teachers using their P10-billion budget, creating 39,066 new teaching and 1,500 non-teaching positions, data from the Department of Budget and Management showed.
“It is Congress’ primary role to appropriate the funds to implement the law, and its most distinctly defined legal responsibility in education pursuant to the Power of the Purse. No less than the 1987 Constitution dictates that education shall be the top budget priority of the State. Under the 2015 General Appropriations Act, the Department of Education received P367.1 billion, which is 14% of the entire national budget and the highest share among all government agencies,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian also renewed his call for the Department of Education to prioritize the more than 36,000 teaching staff and nearly 23,000 non-teaching staff from private higher education institutions or HEIs nationwide who will be displaced by the K to 12 program, so they will need not look for jobs overseas.
“Priority hiring of teaching and non-teaching personnel from private HEIs will also ensure that the possible brain drain caused by the K to 12 program will be minimized,” Gatchalian said.
The Valenzuela City congressman also said that there are proposed measures that seek to benefit affected education stakeholders.
“We have to be sensitive of its possible effects on tens of thousands of higher education professionals over the next two years while we await the first 12th grade graduates. Fortunately, there are proposals pending in Congress such as the government-financed stabilization fund, which aims to allocate roughly 29 billion pesos for the benefit of affected higher education stakeholders. This could be a step forward in mitigating the adverse effects on higher education,” Gatchalian concluded. (Monica Cantilero)