Philippine Education System Blues

The Aquino administration, through the Department of Education, has been making Kindergarten to (Grade) 12 program appear like a necessary pill that Filipinos have to swallow like its neighbors. But the educational system in the country is too sick that it takes more than what I consider a ‘sudden chemotherapy’ to resurrect it from its poor condition.

With its implementation even if our former K- to- 10 education system problems remain unsolved, we now suffer from the negative side effects of having six years of primary education, four years of junior high school, and two more years of senior high school, further crippling development.

I am a product of K- to- 10 observing how everyone would be coping with the K to 12 program – affected students like my younger brother who is in Grade 3 in my former alma matter, my hardworking parents, adjusting teachers, fellow soon-to-be passé K- to- 10 products but are still affected.

I believe that ten years of education is enough if it is of good quality; quantity of duration is not the sole basis of global competence in terms of work. Most schools are incompetent because of many factors beyond the number of years.

First, public schools lack classrooms and facilities, contrary to claims by DepEd that it has licked this problem claiming even further that there are schools with no space for extra classrooms. Education Assistant Secretary Jesus Mateo said that 66,813 classrooms had already been constructed as of December 2013, but that up to now many classrooms accommodate more than 60 students. Facilities inside the classrooms like blackboard, chairs, tables, electric fans, etc. are such in short supply.

Students should not just learn about theories but their application as well. Can you imagine someone so knowledgeable in science only through written experiments on textbooks without knowing what goes on inside a science laboratory? What’s the use of memorizing all experiment tools if we never had the chance to try using these? We can’t even say that we are rich in theories because we also have problems with the books we use. They are not in short supply, but they are too expensive to own.

My elder brother’s books used to be handed down to me before since we studied in the same school and all the mandatory books are costly.

Now, I am astonished as my parents are paying P9, 800 for all of my younger brother’s books since my books are no longer relevant to the K-to-12 program. And as I browse my brother’s books, I am dismayed to see that there had not been too much yet may parents pay P200-300 increase for the almost insignificant changes in the new set of books.

K-to-12 would not even assure raise of teachers’ wages because there would be no additional teaching load or teaching hours. I think it’s a slap to their faces because they have to adjust to the K-to-12 teaching format without any incentives.

Schools being businesses have to find ways to improve their incomes and profits. Some do it by raising tuition fees annually. Others resort to imposing so many miscellaneous fees that end up being bigger than the tuition fees themselves. In my former alma mater, my parents used to pay P27, 000 for my tuition. But for my Grade 3 brother now, they have to shell out P40, 800 in the same school in a span of nine years.

Many schools, private or public, require students to buy their books, uniforms and school supplies from the school, leaving parents with no choice but to pay more for these items which can be bought on bargain elsewhere. I don’t know if this is with the permission of DepEd. Before, my mom would take me to tailor shops and department stores for such things.  Notebooks alone range from P20 to P30 a piece in the schools.

Science or computer laboratories—a school’s hallmark to being globally-competitive—often break down from too many users and from wear- and- tea forcing students to pay internet fees outside. We pay music fees for a broken piano and lab tools are only for display purposes, yet we pay atrocious lab fees. With books almost outdated by the digital age, we pay library fees for manual catalog cards for printed books that are hardly readable.

I’m not against K to 12. The Philippines is just not ready for it. If ever I work outside the country, I want to be a unique product of an effective and developed K- to- 10 program, one that is globally-competitive in a workplace where my workmates are all K- to- 12 products, if only to disprove the DepEd’s claim that the Philippines (one of only 3 countries using K-to-10) has been backward because of it.

The President should have focused on solving the problems besetting the educational system instead of this sudden shift to K-to-12. I can’t imagine myself thanking this administration for this wrong move, in the future.
By Andrea D. Lim
(Bringing Dead Lines to Life)

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