SOUL OF THE NATION. A woman joins a protest last Nov. 26 against the removal of Filipino and Panitikan subjects in college. (Jose Miguel S. Sunglao/The Varsitarian)

UST FACULTY members have called on the University administration to address transition problems in the implementation of the K to 12 basic education reform after the Supreme Court (SC) affirmed its constitutionality.

The SC upheld the legality of the K to 12 basic education reform in a ruling last Nov. 9, denying the consolidated petitions of teachers, schools and students that questioned its constitutionality.

Anne Mallari, a faculty member at the UST Senior High School, said the new educational system should be clarified as some courses in senior high school and in the tertiary level have overlapped.

“[K to 12] is necessary, but [everything] should be improved. Now that they have made it constitutional, I hope they polish the [curriculum and facilities] and give opportunities to teachers who lost their jobs, especially from other schools,” she told the Varsitarian in an online interview.

The education scheme, which expanded the 10-year cycle in the Philippines by adding two extra years in high school, seeks to prepare high school graduates for college or work after completing basic education.

Philosophy professor Jove Jim Aguas said there are still “roadblocks” that have hindered the proper implementation of the educational scheme.

In some provinces, he said, school facilities and teachers were insufficient to accommodate the demands of K to 12.

“Kung ano mang layunin ng K to 12… dahil masyadong minadali [at] hindi masyado na-dissipate kung ano `yong mga problema, after two years… hindi niya na-meet iyong mismong objective,” he said in an interview.

The Department of Political Science’s Ronald Castillo, however, said the new curriculum would help the University achieve “internationalization,” which would benefit Thomasians who are hoping to work or study abroad.

“[Subjects] have been more streamlined to become more competitive. Part of the goal of university life is internationalization, here [in UST] we have exchange programs… what if the things being taught here are not internationally creditable?” he said.

SC’s ruling also lifted the temporary restraining order on the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) memorandum order that removed 15 units of Filipino and Literature subjects from the core subjects of the tertiary level.

Castillo warned that the removal of Filipino and the Philippine Governance and Constitution as subjects in the tertiary level might result in the loss of education’s nationalistic aspect.

The CHEd memorandum should have been consulted with various stakeholders in the education sector, said SHS faculty member Zen Taguibao.

She added that the educational agenda has been tainted with politics, which “depress initiatives for the common good.”

Displacement of teachers anew

Lawyer Danielito Jimenez, president of the Faculty of Arts and Letters’ faculty association, said he fears that the exclusion of some subjects in college could lead to more displacement of teachers.

Rene Luis Tadle of the Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities of the Philippines (Cotescup) echoed Jimenez’s sentiments, saying the decision to exclude some subjects was alarming.

“It may result in displacement of college teachers teaching these courses,” Tadle, a former vice president of the UST Faculty Union, told the Varsitarian.

In a budget hearing in 2016, CHEd revealed that 3,229 faculty members in college were displaced during the first year of the program’s implementation.

However, the high court reasoned that the teachers’ right to security of tenure is already “set in stone” in the labor and civil laws.

‘Still not ready for K to 12’

Jimenez said SC’s decision was more of a political than a legal choice since the SHS component of the program already commenced in 2016.

In its decision, the SC said it was only concerned with the legalities of K to 12 and it could not question its “desirability, wisdom or utility,” as this should be left to the Congress.

Jimenez added that the question that should be addressed instead was whether the program was ready to be ushered in the country or not.

“It seems there is a common concern that not all institutions are ready. In any event, this may be expected since the program is on its infancy stage,” he said.

Tadle maintained that the country is not yet ready for K to 12. Cotescup, where he is the lead convener, was among the first groups that questioned the constitutionality of K to 12 before the SC.

“After four years of implementation, we now know that all our warnings came true. Lack of facilities, textbooks, teacher’s training and dire effects on students’ learning haunt K to 12 implementation up to now,” he said in an online interview.

Lawyer Joseph Noel Estrada, legal counsel of the Catholic Education Association of the Philippines, lauded the SC decision. He said 1.2 million student beneficiaries would be assisted by the government through the Senior High School Voucher Program.

“This landmark decision of the high court provides a wealth of discussions particularly on academic freedom, reasonable regulation and substantive and procedural due process,” he said.

In a statement, the Department of Education said the SC ruling would help the country attain its basic education objectives and social development goals.

“Even more important, our educational system must continuously respond to the increasing development requirements of our country,” the statement read.


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