SC asked to thumb down K to 12 program

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 12 2015 05:36 PM | Updated as of Mar 13 2015 01:36 AM

MANILA - Groups opposed to the government's K to 12 program, a national 12-year basic education program, went to the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday to stop the program's implementation.

Under the Suspend K to 12 Alliance, the groups urged the high court, through a petition for certiorari, to strike down Republic Act (RA) No. 10533, also known as the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, as well as its Implementing Rules and Guidelines and Joint Guidelines.

The alliance also sought the nullification of a Department of Education (DepEd) Memorandum, Memorandum No. 2, Series of 2015, issued in connection with the program's implementation.

They urged the high court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) or writ of preliminary injunction to stay the program's implementation.

The K to 12 program dictates a year of kindergarten, six years of elementary school, four years of junior high school, and two years of senior high school. It is set to be fully implemented in 2016.

The alliance claims that government is not ready to fully implement the program due to the current insufficiency of classrooms, facilities, instructional materials, and teaching and non-teaching personnel.

"The government through the years had never allocated more than 4% of GDP for education, despite the fact that the global standard is at least 6%. Predictably, K to 12 will just worsen the shortages felt right now in our 10-year basic education program due to insufficiency of fund allocations," the alliance said.

The alliance also said the program and RA No. 10533 will lead to the displacement and loss of work of education workers.

"RA No. 10533 fails to provide for 'full protection to labor and promotion of full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all,' which is mandated in Article XIII, Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution. The Constitution promotes work creation or protection and not work displacement or loss. In the implementation of this law, education workers face the risk of early separation, forced retirement, constructive dismissal, diminution of salaries and benefits, labor contractualization, and a general threat to self-organization," the alliance claimed.

The petition also argued that the law's Implementing Rules and Regulations, Joint Guidelines, and the assailed DepEd memo "have no basis under the K to 12 Law, particularly in terms of the provisions on lower compensation and retrenchment."

"These issuances are contrary to law and jurisprudence as education workers are forced to suffer the aforementioned forms of unjust labor practices. These issuances only prove that the K to 12 Law is incomplete," the alliance said.

The alliance further alleged that the K to 12 program is a mere prelude to combining state colleges and universities (SUCs) in order to reduce the number of SUCs under the government's Roadmap for Public Higher Education Reform. This move will lead to the displacement of some 100,000 professors, teachers, and non-teaching personnel by 2016, the alliance added.

The alliance stressed that adding two more years of basic education will further burden Filipinos living in poverty.

"Considering that more than 20 million Filipinos are poor, adding two more years in the basic education will just be an added burden for many families. Based on the statement of the [DepEd], 40% of senior high school students will be admitted to private schools because of the incapacity of the public schools to serve them, further making education as a business rather than as a right and is bound to serve only those who are capacitated," the alliance said.

Instead of adding more years of basic education, the alliance said government should instead focus on the quality of education being taught in schools and provide the much-needed infrastructure, instructional and personnel support.

Before the filing of the petition, the anti-K-12 groups staged a picket in front of the SC.