Philippines on Track for K to 12 Reform and Zero Backlog in 2013

The House of Representatives has approved on second reading House Bill No. 6643, which will enact the K to 12 Basic Education Program into law. The Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2012 would give access to two more years of free basic education for Filipinos, while enabling holistic development and readiness for different paths.

Education Secretary Br. Armin A. Luistro FSC said that the overwhelming support from the House of Representatives and various stakeholders combined with results on the public’s trust in DepEd and its flagship program makes him very hopeful for the success of the broader education reform agenda needed by the Philippines.

“We are grateful to the authors and supporters of the proposed bill in the House of Representatives, especially Rep. Sandy Ocampo, Presiding Officer of the Committee on Basic Education and Culture, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, and the late Salvador Escudero III. Our gratitude also goes to Sen. Angara and his co-authors in the Senate in pushing for the passage of bill,” Luistro said.

The K to 12 Basic Education Program prescribes an enhanced system that includes one year of Kindergarten, 6 years of elementary education, and 6 years of secondary education consisting of 4 years of Junior High School and two years of Senior High School. It aims to develop lifelong learners who will be prepared for higher education, employment, entrepreneurship, and equip them with middle-level skills.

In her sponsorship speech, Rep. Ocampo cited the imperative for legislating this reform, “we must continue to train our sights on our collective and sacred duty as local and national leaders: that of providing every Filipino with the best shot at a decent life. I submit that there is only one real and guaranteed equalizer: high quality education that is accessible to all.” She emphasized this along with DepEd’s progress in achieving milestones for the education sector, especially on augmenting resource shortages.

To address concerns on preparedness, she also said, “the enhanced curriculum is a product of thorough researches, which looked into the best practices of our neighbor countries and our own experiences in schools and communities nationwide.” She further explained the features of the program and implementation strategies to be employed by Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and necessary support from the House, Senate, Local Government Units, and the private sector.

“Implementing institutional reforms and addressing resource shortages go hand in hand, and both have immense bearing on the quality of our graduates,” Luistro explained. “Delaying one in favor of the other would further set us back in meeting our goal of making our basic education system attuned to the needs of the 21st century, and accessible to all Filipinos,” added Luistro.

DepEd, in partnership with the private sector and other government agencies, continues to build more classrooms while at the same time giving due course on repairs and rehabilitation of its existing facilities. The department has constructed over 27,000 new classrooms since June 2010 and is targeted to build over 40,000 more next year. It is also on track in achieving zero backlog in seats and textbooks by the end of this year.

“We are on track to deliver all needed resources in our schools by December 2013 through active sourcing of funds and the enlistment of support from our education partners,” Luistro said.

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