Press Release
November 23, 2012

Cayetano expressed serious reservations over the immediate institutionalization of the K12 program

Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano said he has serious reservations about the proposed Enhanced Basic Education Program (K-12) as contained in Senate Bill 3286 .

He said he is not against the measure per se but is concerned on the possible implications of the proposal to the various stakeholders, particularly the parents, in the event that it is enacted in its present form.

"We agree with the proposition that empowerment of the poor begins with quality education. We see the wisdom behind the K-12 Program and recognize that we all want the best for the country, especially our children. However, we are taking a qualified position against its immediate scaling-up and institutionalization," he said.

The senator stressed the need initially to provide the fundamental requisites of quality education rather than spending it on the proposed 2 years in the secondary education.

"The question is: would we rather have just grade 1-6 and years 1-4 for high school with all facilities complete or two more years with inadequate facilities?" he asked.

He noted that as of 2010, the country had a shortage of 148,827 teachers, 66,800 classrooms, 135,847 toilets, 2.5 million seats, and 60 million books. At present, only 29,261 of teaching positions have been filled, only 23,646 classrooms have been built, only 29,243 toilets have been provided, only 1.3 million seats have been produced, and only 52.7 million books have been delivered.

The minority leader also pointed out that with a 10-year program, ordinary families are already having a hard time bridging their children towards graduation. Adding two more years would further add to this burden and could trigger an increase in the number of dropouts.

He expressed his concern over the possible decrease in graduates upon K12's implementation given that at present, 36% of students drop out of elementary while only 44% graduate from high school.

"Whether poorer or middle class, the additional two years will be such a heavy burden to bear. While I'm not closing the doors to its approval, I'm asking the DepEd to keep an open mind and see if they can reconfigure that their objectives will still be met while not fixating on the 6-4-2 model. Graduating at the age of 19 instead of 17 not only incurs additional cost but may also lead to higher drop out rates," he said.

The lawmaker also pointed out that if one of the objectives of adding two years to our 10 year education system is to meet international standards then the government should also ensure that educational standards other than the number of years are met as well.

"The 12 year cycle is the international standard. But it's not the only international standard. The international standard for example is 40 to 45 children in a classroom. In our country, we sometimes have up to 60 students in a room. International standards also cover the minimum pay of teachers. But we only pay kindergarten teachers P3,000. It's easy to say that this is the international standard without looking at the other factors," he said.

However, Cayetano assured DepEd of his cooperation in looking for alternative programs that will achieve the objective of quality basic education without adding two more high school years since the additional years, he claims, may just burden parents and students while severely taxing government resources.

"Again, I'm fully supportive of the government and its vision. They gave 20% more budget to the DepEd which may have never been done by any other administration in the past. However, I have a disagreement with the K12 approach. I am keeping an open mind that the objectives of attaining quality education can be met by addressing the current problems plaguing the system first, without the burden of immediately adding two more years," he said.

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