July 28, 2015, 2:03p.m. – FILIPINOS will be able to compete with
the rest of the world under the K to 12 program that will add two years to
basic education, President Benigno Aquino III said in his sixth and final State
of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 27 at the Batasang Pambansa complex in
Quezon City.

Aquino said the K to 12 program would boost the credentials of Filipinos
applying for jobs abroad, pointing out that at present, the competence of
Filipino workers abroad was being questioned. Some have in fact been demoted by
their employers, he said.

“Nagpatupad tayo ng K to 12 dahil hindi praktikal ang pagsisiksik ng
kaalaman sa 10-year basic education cycle,” he said, adding that
Philippines was the last country in Asia, and one of only three countries in
the world (the other two being Angola and Djibouti), following the 10-year
basic education system. “Kung ang lumang kalakaran sa edukasyon ay
maihahalintulad sa manggang kinalburo, ngayon, sinisiguro nating hinog ang
kakayahan ng mga estudyante na magpanday ng sariling kinabukasan,” he said.

The Department of Education (DepEd) expects 4.7 million more students to
enroll in public schools until 2017, due to the increased population and the K
to 12 program, the President said. This means the number of teachers, textbooks
and classrooms will go up to accommodate these students.

However, Aquino said education backlogs were being cleared. Of the total
130,000 teachers needed, 29,444 were hired in 2014 while 39,000 more are
expected to be hired this year. Aquino hopes the remaining 60,000 teachers will
be hired by the end of his term in 2016.

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A total of 118,000 classrooms are needed to accommodate the 4.7 incoming
students, with 33,608 already constructed. Aquino said 41,000 classrooms were
set to be constructed this year, while the remaining 43,000 classrooms would be
covered by the proposed 2016 budget. The President claimed that the number of
classrooms built and teachers hired during his term had exceeded the record of
the past 20 years.

He added that an additional 73.9 million textbooks had been distributed
to different schools in the country, and the budget allotted for other
resources needed by the K to 12 program were already included in the proposed
2016 budget.

Aquino, meanwhile, noted that due to his multibillion conditional cash
transfer program that gives cash grants to poor families to encourage health check-ups
and school enrollment, the number of out-of-school children dropped to 1.2
million from 2.9 million between 2008 and 2013.

In the field of technical-vocational education, 821,962 students have
graduated from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s
(Tesda) Training for Work Scholarship Program. Aquino noted that 71.9 percent
of Tesda graduates were able to find jobs easily.

The President also trumpeted big-ticket infrastructure projects and his
anti-corruption drive in his 110-minute speech, the longest of all of his

“Mga Boss, nanggaling tayo sa sitwasyon kung saan tila nababalot ng
kadiliman ang ating bansa; ni hindi natin masigurong may liwanag pang
paparating. Binabati na tayo ng bukang-liwayway ng katarungan at pagkakataon,”
he said.

Just like in his previous SONAs, Aquino did not mention the Freedom of
Information bill, which he promised to pass before the end of his presidency. Jerome
P. Villanueva


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