Press Release
February 22, 2011

Put more years in pre-school instead of extending upper education

More learning years should be instead pumped into the much lower pre-school level than forcing students to prolong their stay in high school by enrolling in their 5th year.

Sen. Ralph G. Recto yesterday said the proposed additional years in the country's education system should be implemented in the pre-school or kindergarten level to ensure that every student is better prepared to begin their formal schooling.

"No less than our DepEd officials have said that the dropout rate is more prevalent in Grades 1, 2 and 3, with 42 percent of those entering public school for the first time deemed not ready for Grade 1," Recto said.

He stressed that the government's education upgrade should be focused on adding more years and funds to pre-school learning than adding more years in the upper education.

"The best intervention for education is additional years in pre-school or kindergarten," Recto said in yesterday's joint hearing on the government's proposed "K plus 12" education program and other education-related measures.

"It is the period when the young mind's absorptive capacity for learning is at its sharpest," he added.

The senator said institutionalizing additional learning years in pre-school such as nursery and kindergarten education would adequately prepare every young pupil in coping with the "rigors of formal schooling."

"It is during the early stage of development that a child can better learn and assimilate ideas because of the rapid growth of the physical and mental faculties," Recto, who co-chaired the joint hearing as Senate ways and means chair, said.

He said under his version of "K2 plus Grade 7", a pupil must have two years of pre-school education by enrolling in nursery and kindergarten before they can be enrolled in Grade 1 and finish Grade 7.

Recto said he remains supportive though of the proposal to extend the primary education up to Grade 7 but not the proposal to extend high school to 5th year.

He said shifting the intervention at the secondary level would miss out a large number of students who may have already dropped out from school even before they enter high school.

"The challenge is to hone and prepare better equipped young pupils at the pre-school stage than forcing them later to extend another year so that they could finish high school," Recto said.

"Let's put our money where it is critically needed."

Recto likewise proposed in a measure that he filed the use of "mother tongue" in the pre-school or kindergarten education to better facilitate and expedite learning.

He cited latest global studies which confirmed that learning through the use of "mother tongue" results to "quicker comprehension."

"Scientific studies and global trends points to multi-lingual based education using the mother tongue as becoming the standard teaching method for basic literacy all over the world," he said.

The senator noted in the country, the average Filipino based is multi-lingual and can understand several local dialects aside from English.

Recto also proposed that P20 billion from Value Added Tax (VAT) collections be used yearly to fund the mandatory public kindergarten education.

"The government wants to add 3 more years in public education but has not identified its revenue source. To be fiscally responsible, we are providing an appropriation clause," he said.

DedEd officials put the estimated cost of institutionalizing kindergarten education at P17 billion a year covering 2.5 million pupils.

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