FORMER rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. has spoken out strongly against the K to 12 basic education reform, calling it a tool for “neo-colonists” to obtain cheap labor from poor countries like the Philippines.

In his Manila Bulletin column last June 18, Fr. de la Rosa said he believed the “driving force behind the imposition of the K-12 scheme is not the quest for excellence, but pure market demand.”

The K-12 system is an “offshoot of the inclusion of professional services in trade agreements among countries,” Fr. de la Rosa said.

“Advances in communications technology made it possible for any work to be performed virtually anywhere on the globe, so even if K-12 graduates remain in the Philippines, they will still be employed as outsourced personnel of prosperous countries who are forever scrounging for cheap labor to further increase their profits,” he said.

“The K-12 system therefore will further speed up the commercialization of professional services for the benefit of industrialized countries that are assured of harvesting a large pool of graduates every year. Unwittingly, we will be helping these countries to maintain their already overwhelming lead in trade, science and scholarship,” he added.

Fr. de la Rosa warned against the loss of intellectual and cultural autonomy as the Philippine educational system caters to “neo-colonists”: multinational corporations, foreign businesses, media conglomerates and first-world universities.

“The K-12 scheme is an indication that the government has succumbed to the pragmatic and utilitarian ethos that has become the moving force behind current educational reforms,” said Fr. de la Rosa, who served as chairman of the Commission on Higher Education from 2004 to 2005.

The Dominican Church historian, who has been named rector of the Pontifical Angelicum University in Rome, also criticized arguments about the need to add two more years—Grades 11 and 12—to the country’s basic education system.

“Should we not rather hammer on the heads of our foreign counterparts that Filipinos can accomplish in 10 years what they struggle to achieve in 12 years? Should we not glory in our inherent capacity to learn quickly the necessary knowledge, skills, and competencies that make us globally competitive?” he asked.

According to the Department of Education, more than 600,000 students have enrolled in Grade 11, mostly from public schools.

Fr. de la Rosa, a former Varsitarian Witness (religion) editor, served three terms as rector of UST from 1990 to 1994, 1994 to 1998, and 2008 to 2012. He will take over the Angelicum in Rome on Sept. 1, making him the first Asian rector of the prestigious university. Mia Arra C. Camacho and Roy Abrahmn D.R. Narra


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