DepEd firm on K-12 despite legal challenge

The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 17 2015 08:28 AM | Updated as of Mar 17 2015 04:28 PM

MANILA - Education Secretary Armin Luistro remains steadfast in pushing for the full implementation of the K to 12 program starting next year despite a pending legal challenge before the Supreme Court (SC).

Last week, a coalition of teachers, non-teaching staff, parents and labor groups filed a petition for injunction asking the SC to stop the implementation of government’s flagship education reform program.

The Coalition for K to 12 Suspension argued that Republic Act 10533, which paved way for the K to 12 program, failed to provide labor protection to teachers and non-teaching staff.

The group said that around 56,000 college teachers and 22,000 non-teaching personnel are in danger of their losing jobs due to the transition period that will significantly reduce the number of those who will enroll in college because of the addition of two years in high school.

But according to Luistro, the Department of Education (DepEd) is doing its best to address the concerns of those who might be affected by the program.

“We are in constant contact with the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Labor and Employment as to the actual number of general education faculty in private higher education institutions (HEIs) who would be affected,” he said.

“The estimated numbers (of affected teachers) have since gone down to 8,000 during the first year of implementation of June 2016,” he added.

Luistro maintained that the situation is “manageable” because DepEd will hire 30,000 to 41,000 high school teachers for 2016 and 2017 and the department will prioritize displaced teaching and non-teaching staff.

He noted that several private colleges have requested DepEd for permit to open senior high school programs that will absorb affected teachers, further bringing down the number of affected faculty.

“There is also a proposal from CHED for a stabilization fund which could be tapped by private HEIs during the implementation,” he said.

Luistro also expressed confidence that the SC will side with DepEd on the proposed suspension of K to 12 implementation.

“I don’t even see that as a possibility,” Luistro said when asked if DepEd is ready should the high court favor the suspension of K to 12.

“Why this late in the game? If it were really about the curriculum, about the teachers, we have been very transparent and have been announcing that since 2010.

“DepEd values constructive feedback and even criticisms on its implementation of the K to 12 program as we continue to dialogue with all stakeholders and the general public,” he added.
DepEd commits to build safe schools

Meanwhile, DepEd has affirmed its commitment to construct safer schools during a working session at the third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan on Saturday.

“The Philippines, through (DepEd), recognizes that schools are at the heart of our communities, therefore we commit to keep our schools safe from threats, be they human-induced or natural,” DepEd assistant secretary Reynaldo Laguda said during the conference.

DepEd has adopted a unified national framework that includes school safety guidelines focusing on prevention, preparedness, response and rehabilitation and recovery.

“This framework guides education planning and supervision of our public schools and offices all over the country and ensures that DRR/CCA (disaster risk reduction/climate change adaption) and education outcomes complement each other,” Laguda explained. – Janvic Mateo

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