Basic education under PNoy: Then, now and soon

By Kathlyn dela Cruz, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at May 20 2015 08:00 PM | Updated as of May 21 2015 07:39 PM

MANILA - The Department of Education (DepEd) has made major improvements in the country's educational system since the start of the Aquino administration, Secretary Armin Luistro said.

In an interview on ANC's "Beyond Politics," Luistro said the DepEd has already addressed the shortage of classrooms nationwide.

The department has also built 30,000 classrooms intended for senior high school students, he said.

The senior high school program, which will focus on self and independent learning, on-the-job training, research and specializations, is a product of the K to 12 program.

The K to 12 covers 1 year of kindergarten, 6 years of primary education, 4 years of junior high school, and 2 years of senior high school. The program will be fully implemented starting school year 2016.

Basic education under PNoy: Then, now and soon 1
Image courtesy of DepEd

According to Luistro, the DepEd, within the administration of President Aquino, has also hired almost 130,000 teachers -- putting the average student-teacher ratio to 33:1.

"I think that's very good. By this year, when we open, there will be no more kinder[garten] volunteer teachers because we would have enough in the plantilla for all kinder teachers," he said.

"In fact, the DepEd has the biggest human power. We can overpower the combined Armed Forces and police. If you want a revolution, DepEd is it," he added, jokingly.

Basic education under PNoy: Then, now and soon 2
Image courtesy of DepEd

The department has also eliminated the system of having four shifts of classes in a day in public schools, Luistro pointed out.

The number of public elementary and high schools that hold three shifts of classes in a day, meanwhile, is now down to less than 100.

"I can objectively say that if there are problems, if you compare them with the problems that you found 4 years ago... you would find major, major improvements," Luistro said.

He, however, also admitted that the DepEd still faces new needs and new problems every school year. But they immediately address these, he assured.

He urged critics to immediately call the attention of the department if ever they see any problem with the country's educational system.

"The challenge to our critics is if you find any of the needs that are not addressed, text it to us. We have an email: action@deped.gov.ph. We will respond to it," said Luistro.

'WE'LL TAKE CARE OF TEACHERS'

Luistro also assured that college-level teachers will not go jobless once the K to 12 program is fully implemented.

Many have expressed concerns on the possible impact of the program on college teachers, considering that 4th year high school students will now have to study two more years in the senior high school level instead of going straight to college.

According to Luistro, latest data show that the number of college teachers and non-teaching personnel that will possibly be displaced during the supposed two-year lull is about 18,000.

On the other hand, the DepEd needs to hire about 30,000 teachers and 6,000 non-teaching staff for the K to 12 year program in 2016 alone.

"We will take care of the teachers," he said, adding that there will be a "green lane" for those who might be displaced.

Luistro said they will open 5,800 public senior high schools when the K to 12 program is fully implemented next year. Around 2,000 private schools and state universities and colleges will also offer senior high school.

"Every single municipality will have at least one senior high school," he said. "Because we want to make sure that there's access."

'BIGGER PROBLEM'

Meanwhile, Luistro lamented that critics of the program are only voicing out their concerns recently, noting that the DepEd started holding consultations with stakeholders as early as October 2010.

"I'm a little surprised that the kind of opposition I'm hearing is kind of late in the day. I would have expected that that would have come in earlier because we did not hide anything," he said, adding that Congress even had public hearings about the matter.

"The truth is from Day 1, DepEd's doors have been very open for comments and even criticisms."

He said there will be a "bigger problem" if the implementation of the K to 12 program is stopped since many schools have already invested in it and thousands of classrooms have already been built.

"So I will ask those who will try to stop it to please solve the problem because I don't have any on how to address the investments that have already been put in."

Luistro also stressed that of the average 1.6 million students who graduate from high school every year, only about half enroll in college. The other half do not even go to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and just stop schooling.

"Government is saying we want to support them and we want even to support those who are going to college. And they (critics) are saying 'We don't want that. We just want the old program.' Medyo mahirap yatang maintindihan yun," he said.