'12-year education cycle to cost P100-B'

By Ira Pedrasa, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Jun 17 2010 12:34 PM | Updated as of Jun 17 2010 08:34 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The 12-year education cycle proposed by President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III will cost the Philippine government an additional P100 billion spread out in 5 years, Aquino's education adviser said Thursday.

In an interview with ANC’s Headstart, former Education Undersecretary Juan Miguel “Mike” Luz said the plan will not further strain the already budget-poor education system since the money will come from revenue previously lost to corruption.

“The World Bank said we’re leaking, that’s corruption, about P400 billion a year. If we tighten up on what we’re leaking, we should be able to pay for this. It’s money that is not available, it is money we’re actually wasting,” he said.

Luz, who teaches at the Asian Institute of Management, is now education adviser to Aquino.

He debunked accusations the plan is anti-poor since it will supposedly further put a strain on the pockets of Filipino families.

“If they think it’s anti-poor…I think you should go to the rest of the world and ask them: Does education hurt you? Does education help you? I think the answer is pretty clear,” he said.

"If the rest of the world, which has done much better than the Philippines, has gone to 12-years or more, I don’t understand how we can think we’re smarter," he added.

Aquino, who will sit as 15th president, has promised to add two years to the current 10-year school cycle. In fact, this is first in his ten-point agenda.

Luz said the problem with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s administration is that it focused on building classrooms, hiring teachers and procuring textbooks. “You’re throwing money into the problem,” he said.

Quality solution

He said the problem is really about the quality of the system. He said the Philippines is only one of two nations in the world to have a six-year school cycle in elementary and four in high school.

“We’re not proposing something different, we’re proposing to catch up with the rest of the world. It’s a quality thing,” he said.

By quality, Luz meant not squeezing what one student can learn in only 10 years, instead of 12. The tendency is that the system becomes a smorgasbord of “a little bit of this, a little bit of that,” he said.

What is happening in this present blueprint is that a student actually gets two years of remedial high school in college called general education, he said. “All we’re doing is fixing a problem that we’re tossing to universities to fix,” he added.

He said the issue of children dropping out in school is a completely different problem. If one looks at it however, “why pay for the [remedial classes in the first 2 years of college], when you can get it in high-school [via the 12-year cycle],” Luz stressed.

He cited for example Malaysia, which teaches the subject Calculus to students in high school because they want to prop up their science-engineering industry. In the Philippines, only students at the Philippine Science High School take up the subject, he said.

He noted even the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization admits that the Philippines can’t become an industrial nation. Only 2 of the 100 elementary students actually make it to the science industry, he said.

Slowly but surely

He said the system will not be introduced abruptly. “The 2 [additional] years will be built over a 5-year period,” he said.

The groundwork will start in 2011, he added.

The Aquino administration will also implement the required pre-school classes, which will cost the government an additional budget of P41.5 billion.