Press Release
June 9, 2011

Trillanes: DepEd's K+12 program, a costly
and potentially disastrous experiment

Senator Antonio "Sonny" F. Trillanes IV has called for a Senate inquiry into the ambitious Enhanced Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K+12) program of the Department of Education (DepEd), which seeks to expand basic education to 13 years from the current 10 years.

Trillanes described the program, which the DepEd intends to implement beginning next school year, as a "big, costly and potentially disastrous" experiment that would only worsen the existing problems confronting the education sector, particularly the lack of teachers and classrooms.

"With severe shortage estimated by DepEd itself to be around 103,000 elementary and high school teachers plus 27,000 Kindergarten teachers and an equally severe shortage of classrooms estimated at around 90,000, why are our education officials proposing to adopt a system which will obviously result to an aggravation of the already severe shortage in teaching personnel and classrooms?" Trillanes said in a privilege speech in support of Senate Resolution No. 499 he filed last week.

The young legislator pointed out that most public schools in the National Capital Region have 76 to 79 students, a far cry from the ideal ratio of 45 students per classroom.

According to Trillanes, the national average class size in Philippine secondary schools is 56 students per classroom and can be considered overcrowded when compared to Malaysia's 34, South Korea's 35.1 and Thailand's 41.5.

He cited the case of Batasan National High School, which has three shifts of classes daily and where some students go to school as early as 5:30 a.m. and go home as late as 7:20 p.m.

"If we implement DepEd's K + 12 system, are we going to add a fourth shift and require our students to wake up earlier, say at 3:00 a.m. or maybe go home at midnight? Are we going to pack our students even more tightly with 150 students per class?" Trillanes asked.

Trillanes said the program would entail additional costs not only to the government but most especially to the parents. "Parents who are barely able to make both ends meet. The same parents who must now bear the burden of the rising cost not only of education but of almost everything else - from food to utilities and from gasoline to LPG," Trillanes said.

He also warned that the K+12 program would only result to more dropouts, noting that for every 100 students who enter Grade 1, only 43 manage to finish high school and only 14 graduate from college under the present basic education system.

Considering the current economic situation, Trillanes said, the dropout rate would further increase if the government extends the 10-year basic education by two more years.

Trillanes also debunked DepEd's claim that the program would improve the quality of basic education and address youth unemployment, citing a recent study by former Education Deputy Minister Abraham Felipe and Dr. Carolina Porio which showed that "there is no correlation between the number of years of basic education and the overall quality of education".

He mentioned the case of students from Singapore who performed best in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) from among 50 countries which have the same length of high school cycle as the Philippines.

On the other hand, Trillanes said, countries that have longer high school cycles like South Africa, Chile, Palestine, Morocco and Saudi Arabia belong to the group that have low-performing high school students.

Trillanes set aside DepEd's argument that 18-year-old students who will graduate from the K+12 program will be "employable" even without a college degree.

"If thousands upon thousands of college degree holders now cannot find employment, what makes the DepEd believe that they can solve our unemployment problem by producing 'employable' high school graduates?" Trillanes asked.

"Hirap na hirap na nga po ang ating mga kababayan para mapagtapos ng kahit high school man lang ang kanilang mga anak. Ang tanong ko, bakit po natin dadagdagan ang kanilang paghihirap sa pamamagitan ng pagdagdag ng dalawang taon pa sa ating primary at secondary education system samantalang wala namang maliwanag na pakinabang ang bayan sa nasabing programa?" Trillanes added.

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