“Mismong sa Basic Education Report (BEC) 2023 na nanggaling ang deklarasyon na “the grave learning crisis is rooted on long-time government neglect of education,” said Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Rep. France L. Castro during her privilege speech in the Department of Education (DepEd) BER 2023 report presentation.

This is a response to Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte after she led the discussion on the summation of the assessments on the current state of basic education in the country. Accordingly, Duterte averred that Filipino students are “academically insecure” as they are “not academically proficient”.

“Being academically insecure, many of them may fail to meet the standards of the demanding and competitive world,” Duterte added, saying the adverse effects students acquire as induced and provoked by circumstances from home, in communities, and schools.

On quality education

Since before the pandemic, progressive solons have been campaigning for quality, equipped, and conducive facilities for teaching and non-teaching personnel.

Kabataan Partylist (KPL), also one of the progressive legislators and the genuine youth representation in the Congress, has been persistent to raise awareness on various issues including the overcrowding in schools, the impact of natural disasters on education, and the dearth of educational resources.

“The issues raised there were not novel. In fact, most of the issues presented by DepEd in that report echoed the calls of the youth and students’ sector for years,” said KPL Rep. Raoul Manuel in a statement.

“Ang kapabayaan ng gobyerno ay nagbunga ng matinding kakulangan sa paaralan, school buildings, klasrum, pasilidad, imprastraktura, libro, mga guro, education support personnel, at iba pang pangangailangan ng mga estudyante. Idagdag pa ang labis na trabaho sa mga guro, kakulangan ng suporta at hindi nakabubuhay na sahod,” Castro seconded.

Both Manuel and Castro added that they have long called to review the K-12 program implementation. Such that DepEd imposed without due consultation to youth organizations and other affected sectors.

“The Basic Education Report of DepEd has exposed the K-12 program to be a failure, and its MATATAG Agenda is a paltry attempt to recoup their losses and further modify the K-12 program to achieve its real, original objective: open the Philippine youth and labor force to domestic and foreign exploitation,” Manuel remarked.

Despite its reorientation, the K-12 program will still be marred with the same problems said KPL. Given its core, the partylist asserted that K-12 will remain soulless that will ultimately fail to develop a critical citizenry.

Marcos-Duterte priorities

In May 2021, Makabayan bloc filed House Bill (HB) 9494, or the Emergency Student Aid and Relief Bill aiming to institutionalize an emergency student aid and relief system during times of national emergency or crisis to help Filipino students and youth with their expenses related to alternative modes of learning, including tuition, other school fees, gadgets, and internet connectivity. All these struggles that many endured during the pandemic up to this date.

Also in the 19th Congress, Manuel filed HB 251 also known as the Safe School Reopening Bill, to lay forth policies that would facilitate the reopening of schools.

Over the proposed HB 9494 and HB 251, KPL noted that the current Marcos Jr. administration has instead prioritized the Mandatory Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (MROTC) amid the program’s deficiencies, history of corruption, and incapacity to provide adequate intellectual nourishment to Filipino students.

At the helm of HB 6486 or An Act Instituting a National Citizens Service Training Program in All Public and Private Tertiary Education Institutions, Marcos Jr. mandates Filipino students to be mobilized under the Armed Forces of the Philippines and managed by ROTC cadets.

ROTC program was previously implemented at the higher level but was terminated in 2002 due to the murder of University of Santo Tomas student Mark Nelson Chua after exposing forms of corruption and grave abuses committed under the program. Eventually, ROTC was made optional and voluntary through Republic Act No. 9163, also known as the National Service Training Program Act of 2001.

“We should start to acknowledge the calls at the grassroots level to move towards an education that prepares the youth and students to solve relevant national issues, focuses on scientific basis and discovery, and moves away from antiquated ways of thinking,” said KPL.

On the other hand, Castro emphasized the need to heed pro-teacher calls for a P10,000.00 teaching supplies allowance, special hardship allowance teaching overload pay, and free annual check-up among others.

“Ipasa na ang Magna Carta of Public School Teachers at Magna Carta of Private School Teachers, at iba pang mga panukalang batas para sa ikabubuti ng buong sektor ng edukasyon. Ilan lamang po yan sa mga konkretong solusyon upang tugunan ang krisis sa edukasyon,” Castro urged.


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