Improving the skills of learners, fixing the K-12 system, and upholding the welfare of teachers should be among the priorities of the Department of Education (DepEd) under the new administration, Senator Win Gatchalian suggested.
Gatchalian recalled that out of 79 countries that participated in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the Philippines ranked last in Reading and second to the last in Mathematics and Science. The Philippines also ranked last out of 58 countries in two other international assessments: the 2019 Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) and the 2019 Trends in International Mathematics (TIMSS).
Before the pandemic struck, experts have been saying that the congested K-12 curriculum, which requires too many competencies, is preventing learners from mastering basic skills.
Gatchalian added that Filipinos are dissatisfied with the K-12 program. A December 2019 survey by Pulse Asia revealed that only 38% are satisfied with the K-12 program, while 47% are dissatisfied. Among those who are dissatisfied with the K-12 program, 78% said they have to shell out more money for transportation and education for two more years.
“Hindi na tayo maaaring bumalik sa business as usual kung nais nating tutukan ang krisis sa ating sektor ng edukasyon. Dapat nating ayusin ang programa ng K-12 at tiyaking natututo nang husto ang mga mag-aaral,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
The senator said upholding the welfare of teachers should include raising their salaries. He has proposed to increase the salary of Teacher I from Salary Grade 12 (P25,439) to Salary Grade 13 (P29,798) or Salary Grade 14 (P32,321).
Improving teacher education and training entails ensuring the proper implementation of the Excellence in Teacher Education Act (Republic Act No. 11713), which Gatchalian authored and sponsored. The law seeks to revamp the Teacher Education Council by strengthening coordination between the DepEd, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).
Other priorities for DepEd under the new administration should also include increasing local government participation, Gatchalian said.