Gov't told: Ease K-12 transition woes, tap private schools

 

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said it would need billions of pesos to mitigate the labor impact of the K to 12 program on the tertiary education sector.

But private schools say "labor problems will be less" and there won’t be a need for a P29-billion transition fund ($655 million)* if the government will only utilize the expertise and resources of private schools.

"Why aren't you looking at us primarily as the supplier of senior high school? We have the space...we already have the faculty in place. And we have the capacity, we have the rooms," said Cristina Padolina, president of the Centro Escolar University.

"So if you are looking for quality senior high schools, the private higher education institutions are ready and willing to provide all of these." 

At its worst, CHED said a total of 78,318 teaching and non-teaching staff may potentially be displaced because of K to 12. The transition fund is meant to compensate the personnel. 

Padolina was one of the resource persons during the February 18 hearing of the House of Representatives’ higher and technical education committee on the K to 12 program and its impact on higher education institutions (HEIs).

The first batch of students under the K to 12 program will enter senior high school’s grade 11 in 2016, and grade 12 in 2017. (READ: What senior high school tracks fit your locality?)

Because of this, HEIs expect a drop in enrollment during these two years all the way to school year 2021-2022 when things are expected to normalize. (READ: College professors fear massive retrenchment due to K to 12)

But with just a year before the full implementation of K to 12, the Department of Education (DepEd) has so far given only 236 private schools their permits to implement the senior high school program.

About 1,108 more applications are pending, and DepEd aims to "finish everything" by June 2015, DepEd K to 12 coordinator Elvin Uy said on Wednesday.

Private schools' plea

Uy said only hundreds of schools were approved almost a year since application season began in January 2014 because of incomplete requirements.

But Joseph Estrada, legal counsel of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA), said they cannot plan ahead without the assurance of an approval.

"How can you apply the requirements – inventory of equipment and facilities, list of faculty and personnel who will teach in senior high, proof of ownership of land? All of those decisions and the investment are contingent on the permit. How can we submit all of these requirements?" Estrada lamented.

He suggested a "ministerial grant" for existing high schools, in particular, so they can be allowed to prepare for 2016.

"Bakit di na lang sabihin na kung may permit na, recognized na ng DepEd (Why can't they just say if you're already DepEd-recognized) you can start preparing, you will get your permit, [and] requirements will just be a validation?" he added.

Padolina, meanwhile, said private higher education institutions like CEU are constrained and cannot market or promote their senior high school programs until DepEd’s approval.

"We are the source of more than 50% of the professionals in the country. Most of the people in government come from private higher education institutions. Are you just going to let us float for how many years? Do you think we can recover as well and provide the education again after these transition years?" she said before the committee.

Uy reiterated the commitment of DepEd to go over all pending senior high school applications by June 2015. – Rappler.com

*1 US$ = P44.28

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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