MANILA - Calling the K to 12 program ‘despotic’ and ‘anti-democratic,’ a group of parents, students and teachers of the Manila Science High School (MSHS) has asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling upholding the constitutionality of the K to 12 law.
In a motion filed on Tuesday, the group argued the additional 2 years in the K to 12 program violated their substantive due process, according to a press statement from the group’s lawyer, Severo Brillantes.
The K to 12 program, passed into law and first implemented during the term of former President Benigno Aquino III, added two years of senior high school expanding the duration of basic education in the country from 10 to 12 years.
The move, according to the SC in its October 9 decision, was intended to improve the quality of basic education in the country and make it at par with international standards in order to make Filipino graduates more competitive in the international arena.
Prior to the implementation of K to 12, the Philippines was just 1 of 3 countries in the world with a 10-year basic education program.
But, according to petitioners, the law only serves the interest of a few, thus violating due process.
“Not all Filipinos however need a globally competitive education or one at par with international standards (meaning a 12-year basic education cycle),” petitioners said in their motion.
“[M]ajority of Filipinos will never apply for graduate school admission to a foreign university or for professional work in a foreign corporation, and these are the only people who supposedly need the additional years of basic education…Hence, the assailed law is unconstitutional for serving the interests of only a select few,” they added.
According to the group, the law is particularly oppressive to Manila Science high school students who are not trained for immediate employment, as envisioned under the K to 12 program, but to pursue tertiary education to become mathematicians, scientists and engineers.
“[W]hy burden each and every Filipino student with two (2) additional years of senior high school, when it is not the dream of everyone either to study or work abroad and thus with the need to meet international standards? It should be asked in the very first place what is our dream for our people, ‘to be perennial OFWs’?”
The group also argued the added 2 years is not reasonably necessary to improve the quality of basic education, citing a study which found that some countries which have shorter education programs ended up having high scores in math and science.
To improve the quality of education, the group said the government should have instead considered other factors like poverty, lack of teachers, classroom and books.
“Given adequate instruction, armed with sufficient books, and a conducive learning environment, the Filipino student does not need at all two (2) additional years of senior high school,” it noted.
The Supreme Court had brushed aside policy arguments in its decision, saying government policy is within the exclusive domain of the political branches of government.
It also rejected the claim of Manila Science students that because of their “higher mental capabilities,” the decongested or longer K to 12 program should not apply to them.
“To be clear, the Court is not saying that petitioners are not gifted, contrary to their claims. The Court is merely saying that the K to 12 Law was not infirm in treating all high school students equally. The MSHS students are, after all, high school students just like all other students who are, and will be, subjected to the revised curriculum,” the Court said.