WITH the implementation of the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 or the K to 12 next school year, higher education institution (HEI) workers face retrenchment and an uncertain future.

With K to 12, students will now have to undergo kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School and two years of Senior High School [SHS]), before qualifying for higher education.

The addition of two more years in basic education will affect higher education in the next two years, especially since colleges won’t have new freshmen because of the extended stay of students in high school. Basic education subjects in the college level have been devolved to SHS. Due to this, a lot of college instructors who teach basic education subjects will lose their load.

According to the latest estimates of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), 13,634 teaching staff and 11,456 non-teaching staff may be displaced come K to 12. These figures are very conservative admittedly as college teachers face the prospect of joblessness.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said it was ready to assist K to 12-affected private employees by offering some 30,000 new teaching positions and 6,000 non-teaching personnel this year, and another 30,000 teaching positions in 2017.

Meanwhile, CHEd will offer scholarships for graduate studies for retrenched school personnel who may want to pursue masters or doctoral degrees.

Moreover, DOLE also promised income support or income augmentation to teaching and non-teaching personnel—both permanent and casual—who will not be absorbed by the Department of Education for three to six months.

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Together with CHEd, DOLE will also implement a five-year Adjustment Measures Program for K to 12, with a budget of P1.1 billion, in pursuance the Department Order 85 series of 2007 which aims to prevent job losses and provide assistance to displaced workers.

For 2016, CHEd will have a budget of P10.53 billion, P8.28 billion of which will be allocated for the commission’s K to 12 Transition Program. Funding for the transition program will be sourced from CHEd’s Higher Education Development Fund (P3 billion), General Appropriations Act (P2.28 billion) and other unprogrammed sources (P3 billion).

Of the P1.11-trillion allocation to social services in the 2016 National Expenditure Program, P435.9-billion will be given to the Department of Education (DepEd), an increase of 15.4 percent or P58.2 billion compared to its 2015 budget of P377.7 billion.

A bulk of these funds will be used in supporting the full implementation of K to 12, with P16.9 billion set for the hiring of 79,691 teaching and non-teaching personnel. DepEd said it will be hiring HEI teachers displaced by K to 12.

DepEd also assured the preparedness of the country for the K to 12. According to the agency, it has built additional 66,813 classrooms from 2010 to 2013 and 33,608 classrooms in 2014.

From 2010 to 2014, it has employed at total of 128,105 teachers. DepEd said it would hire 37,000 more to teach SHS this year. New learning materials were also produced and are being produced for elementary up to SHS. 2,847 private schools were also cleared to offer SHS as of June 2015.

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But all of the measures of DepEd and CHEd to control the dire effects on teachers of K to 12 may have been too late for those who have already been retrenched by overeager HEIs. In fact, a number of petitions asking the Supreme Court to stop the K to 12 have been filed by teachers who have been displaced and bore the initial brunt of the DepEd and CHEd’s callous disregard of the displacing effects on teachers of the new education program.

It is very telling for one that CHEd had to cobble up the budget for its transition program for displaced teachers from several sources, including unprogrammed expenditures. It is pretty obvious that DepEd and CHEd had not really consulted each other at the start of planning K to 12 and that the two government agencies had failed to anticipate the effects of a drastic overhaul of the education system. For failing to do their homework, DepEd and CHEd get a failing grade in our record book.

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