SC urged: Suspend K to 12, let Grade 10 students take UPCAT

MANILA, Philippines – Parents and teachers from the Manila Science High School (MSHS) asked the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, July 28, to immediately suspend the government's K to 12 program to allow Grade 10 students to apply for and take entrance exams.

The petitioners, who are making the appeal on behalf of all Grade 10 students nationwide, said a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the longer high school program is most urgent given that the deadline for the filing of applications for the University of the Philippines College Admission Test (UPCAT) was on Wednesday, July 29.

A check on UPCAT's website indicated that the premier state university has since moved to Friday, July 31, the deadline for the filing of applications from the provinces.

UP earlier said only graduates from schools that are early implementors of the K to 12 program can take the UPCAT and enter the state university in 2016.

Aside from early implementors, the Commission on Higher Education clarified that colleges can also offer admission to graduates under the 10-year pre-college cycle before K to 12.

In the motion filed Tuesday, the petitioners asked the High Court for early resolution of its earlier petition to stop the implementation of the K to 12 curriculum, including the requirement for students to attend senior high school, or two more years in high school starting 2016.

Petitioners noted the "extreme urgency" for the SC to act on the issue since colleges and universities will soon open their entrance examinations to high school students.

"Said extreme urgency for the issuance of said temporary restraining order [TRO] is beyond dispute now as the University of the Philippines [UP], which is the first who will conduct its College Admission Test [UPCAT], has already set it to be held this August 30, 2015, and in fact the deadline for the filing of application forms thereto is set to expire after tomorrow, July 29, 2015," Tuesday's motion read.

K to 12 'deprives student's rights'

Petitioners on Tuesday asked SC to permanently stop the K to 12 curriculum, restore the special science curriculum of MSHS, which was "in effect diluted" by the new K to 12 curriculum, and certify that Grade 10 students can be admitted to college even after only 4 years of high school.

With the signing of the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, two years have been added to the basic education system of the Philippines. The largest batch of students under the program will enter senior high school's grade 11 in 2016, and grade 12 in 2017.

But this same batch started high school in 2012, when K to 12 was not yet a law. The petitioners said if K to 12 pushes through, these Grade 10 students will be deprived of their right to enter college after completing the original 4 years of high school.

Another group on July 22 also filed an urgent reiterative and supplemental motion for the issuance of a TRO on the implementation of K to 12.

To date, at least 5 petitions were filed before the SC asking for the suspension of K to 12. Critics cited labor issues, the inadequacy of a P29-billion transition fund for the program, and questions on the law's constitutionality as basis for junking the program.

The High Court has since ordered the consolidation of all petitions challenging the controversial program. –

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.