MANILA, Philippines - A plan to add 2 more years to the country's basic education cycle will soon be a reality under the Aquino presidency, according to Aquino's campaign manager Florencio "Butch" Abad.
Abad, who is rumored to be the future education secretary of Aquino, said the 12-year education cycle is part of the 10-point agenda proposed by Liberal Party bet and President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III during the campaign.
The 12-year education plan includes 7 years of primary (elementary) education, and five years of secondary (high school) education.
He said the proposal also includes one year of pre-school for pupils before entering Grade 1.
Abad said the current 10-year basic education cycle in the Philippines is already obsolete since most nations already implement a 12-year education plan.
He said one Japanese consultant noted that Filipino students end up being more tired than Japanese students "because we cram so many subjects in such a short period of time."
"What happens is that there are subjects that high school graduates don't really get to focus on, like introduction to calculus or the science and math subjects. Students aren't given enough time to study and delve deeper into the subjects," he told radio dzMM.
He added that in some countries, Filipino graduates are required to study for another 2 years to make up for the lack of years spent in school.
Abad said students in Japan and South Korea actually spend up to 14 years in school before entering college to make them more competitive.
He also noted that adding more education years would allow the Department of Education to focus on new subjects such as information and communications technology.
Abad said many parents complain about the proposed 12-year education cycle because they want their kids to finish high school and start working immediately.
"They don't want their kids to go to college. They just want the kids to work so that they will benefit from them," he said.
He said one option being studied by the new administration is to extend President Arroyo's conditional cash transfer program. The program gives P1,500 to impoverished families whose kids are in school.
"We may need to extend that program so that the parents will get some support or subsidy while their kids are in school," he said.
He also noted that the Aquino administration needs to address the classroom shortage in more than 45,000 public schools nationwide.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) earlier said the country needs an additional 61,343 classrooms to accommodate the more than 21 million students this year.