Trillanes on K-to-12: Are we intellectually inferior?

MANILA, Philippines – “You’re saying we’re intellectually inferior?”

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV raised strong objections to the Education Department’s newly launched K-to-12 program.

In a hearing of the Senate Education committee on Tuesday, June 5, Trillanes grilled Education Undersecretary for Programs and Projects Yolanda Quijano on the need to shift to the program. The Department began implementing the program this school year. (Read: K-to-12: More years, more knowledge?

“You benefitted from a 10-year basic education program and yet you’re saying your program did not work. We, senators, are beneficiaries of the 10-year program. You’re saying we’re intellectually inferior?” 

Quijano defended the program, saying the 10-year basic education system does not equip high school graduates with the skills they need for employment like critical-thinking.

The education official explained that 10 years are not enough to hone the competencies of students.

“We have given [students] a congested curriculum. We would like to decongest the curriculum,” said Quijano.

Trillanes remained unconvinced, and seemed to take offense.

“I was a beneficiary of the 10-year program and I can hold my ground with my contemporaries elsewhere.”

Trillanes asked Quijano, “What program did you go through? Is there anything wrong with you?”

“I believe most of us benefitted from the 10 years. You cannot just say that it is not working anymore and therefore we need to prolong it. That observation is not valid.” 

Competitiveness vs exporting labor 

Trillanes also rejected Quijano’s argument that the program is needed to make Filipino students globally competitive. 

Quijano said that the Philippines had been the only Asian country and one of just 3 nations in the world lacking the 12-year basic education program. As a result, she said Filipinos have a hard time finding work overseas.

The Filipinos who find work abroad tend to have lower salaries than their colleagues who went through 12 years of basic education, said Quijano. 

In a statement, Sen Edgardo Angara echoed the explanation of Quijano. "This is about putting our graduates on a par with the rest of the world .... Some of our nursing graduates abroad work as nursing aides while our engineers are deemend underqualified because of the significantly shorter education they had in the Philippines." 

Trillanes, though did not accept the explanations.

“Is it now the policy of this administration to export our graduates and not to satisfy our own requirements here in our country? The solution is to provide opportunities here.”

The senator added, “Let’s not tinker with this experimental program and force it upon everyone.”

Quijano pointed out that the program will also make students more prepared to work in the Philippines.

Yet Trillanes shot back, “You need to really get back to the drawing board.” – Rappler.com

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