Press Release
October 6, 2010

Speech of Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente C. Sotto III

On K+12

Mr. President, yesterday, we celebrated World Teachers' Day. Yesterday, too, our Department of Education proposed to add two more years in basic education, in a program dubbed as K+12, Kindergarten, plus 12 years.

I know there have been studies made prior to this announcement. I grant them good intentions, but as senator of the Republic, I must voice the sentiments of those whom I heard about the issue and whose views I share.

I oppose the addition of two years to basic education.

First, there is no clear benefit to adding two years to basic education. The second year college student today is as unemployed as the high school graduate, not because of any lack of intelligence or skill, but because our economy cannot generate enough jobs as there are job-seekers.

Second, the already burdened parents who cannot, even now, afford to bring their children to high school will have a harder problem with the approval of K+12. More years in school translate to more expenses for two years more. Lalong magiging mahirap masambit ng mga magulang ang mga katagang - Kahit papaano, napagtapos ko ang aking mga anak ng High School.

Third. Our national budget is unable to fund the present numbers of years in basic education. Dadagdagan pa natin? Adding two years to basic education will further increase our budget deficit. We need quality education, not quantity of years in education. We need more schools, not more years in school.

Finally, in a way, we already have K-12. It is common knowledge that pre-school had been a fact of life this past decade. Our children have entered school so much earlier than usual, such that before reaching Kindergarten, they have already gone to pre-school of two years. In a way, we have had our own version already of K-12, without institutionalizing it.

This proposal to add two years may be borne out of a perception that we are not as good as others. We are again in self-flagellation mode of our educational system. Napagiiwanan na daw tayo. And yet, tens of thousands of South Koreans come to our shores to learn and study English, as we ourselves veer away from English in basic education. Foreign students compete with our students for precious space in nursing and medicine courses. These are the problems worth looking into, not adding two years of expenses to our students and parents. It is a total waste of time, effort and money.

They tell us sir, that this is the world standard. Mr. President, if the world standard does not suit our situation and culture, then let the world educate its young the way they see fit, and let us educate our young the way we see fit.

Tama na po itong panggagaya sa iba. Mayroon naman tayong sariling bait, sariling pang-unawa ng ating kalagayan, sariling panuklas ng mga solusyon ng ating mga problema. Ang kailangan natin ay ang ating angking talino at karunungan sa mga bagay-bagay sa mundo. Kailangan nating maging mapayapang tao, maging masisipag na trabahador, maging mga tapat sa paghawak ng pera, maging totoo sa wika, maging matulungin, maging makatao.

Education’s aims are always two-fold, Mr. President, – instruction about the world outside; and formation of the person inside. Knowledge must be accompanied by character to equip one to achieve his potential and prepare him to live in society with others. The most brilliant mind who kills for no reason will end up in jail, without much use of his intellect. The good person, even without outside formal education, can become an honest businessman and a gentleman, a good citizen and deserving child of his God.

The school is not the only educator. Parents, the church, the community, and the totality of our culture educate and train our students to be good citizens. Let us not complicate matters; let us not fix what is not broken.

Magaling tayo, pero madalas, hindi tayo bilib sa ating sarili. Blame it on centuries of subservience and colonization. We stumble to apologize, we own up faults before we are accused. Other countries wage wars, kill millions and after fifty years, it’s so hard for them to apologize. It’s time to believe in ourselves. For these reasons, and for the Filipino people, I object to the addition of two years to basic education.

`Thank you Mr. President.

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