The clamor to junk the Aquino regime’s K-12 program is growing as more and more students, parents, teachers, and other sectors join the call to stop the implementation of the additional two years for basic education set next school year.
The extra year for kindergarten and preparations for the full implementation of K-12 come school year 2016-2017 have already resulted in additional problems in the education sector. A bigger tragedy awaits the Filipino youth with the full implementation of the program.
Education for cheap labor
The K-12 is a neoliberal, colonial education program which aims to further depress the wages of the Filipino worker. The program is designed to ensure that more Filipino youths graduate and leave school at a younger age (as early as 18 years old) to become “semiskilled” laborers, compete for scarce jobs and add to the growing number of unemployed.
This program is implemented by the Aquino government along with other neoliberal policies as prescribed by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and in accordance with the European Union’s Bologna Accord and the US’ Washington Accord both of which require that overseas workers complete a 12-year basic educational program.
The K-12 program is in line with the Aquino regime’s labor export policy which forces Filipino workers to leave and find jobs in other countries. K-12 aims to push the youth to finish education in an earlier age in order to thrust them immediately into work. The K-12 primer itself states that one of the objectives of adding two years is for the youth to graduate at the age of 18, the minimum age for entering into legitimate labor contracts. The two years that will be added to high school is focused on technical or vocational training which matches the needs of foreign corporations. The greater number of younger people competing over scarce jobs will in turn increase unemployment rates and further push down wages.
The Aquino government is competing with neighbouring countries in depressing wages in order to attract foreign investors who seek lower labor costs. Saying that there is a “mismatch” between skills and available jobs hides the real reason behind joblessness: the backward system of agriculture and lack of basic industries in the country which is the cause of the incapability of the economy to create sufficient employment.
Given this framework, the K-12 further worsens the colonial content and character of education. The K-12 curriculum will all the more deprive the youth of knowledge of the history of the patriotic people’s struggle and instead teach them that there is no alternative to wage-slavery under imperialism. It is not surprising that part of the K-12 is the removal courses on Filipino in college.
Intensified privatization and commercialization of education
The K-12 program will intensify the privatization and commercialization of education and further increase the tuition and other fees in schools.
Because the public schools — already afflicted before by lacking classrooms and facilities — cannot possibly absorb the increase in the number of students and classes K-12 will bring, students will be forced to finish junior and senior high school in private high schools and colleges. The government will fund private schools and guarantee profits of school owners through vouchers and scholarships for the additional years under DepEd’s adjustment program.
K-12 is now being used as a justification to increase tuition and other fees. The schools are set to charge higher fees for the additional years under K-12 aside from the special modules, requirements, and trainings which will be paid in relation to the program.
College or tertiary education is also now made to appear as a luxury or a privilege because of K-12. Tuition and other fees in colleges are set to increase drastically alongside budget cuts and the privatization of state universities. State responsibility to subsidize tertiary education will be further transferred to big capitalists who earn billions in profit from school fees.
A burden to students, parents, and teachers
K-12 is clear burden to students, parents, and teachers. The additional two years will mean additional expenses for already poverty-stricken families, additional drop-outs, and additional sufferings from the country’s system of education.
Because it is by design defective, the program results to confusion and additional burdens for teachers and administrators who are made to shoulder the implementation of the program. It is estimated that 100,000 teachers and employees in colleges will lose their jobs with the implementation of the program. The added years will also worsen the shortages of classrooms, facilities, and teachers.
The Filipino youth and people must resolutely oppose Aquino’s K-12. Beyond the calls to suspend the implementation of the program due to insufficient funding or lack of preparation, the program must be exposed for what it is: a tool to further orient the educational system towards serving Aquino’s big capitalist bosses and subject the youth and workers to greater exploitation.
What we need is a nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented educational system. We should oppose neoliberal, colonial policies which have been proven bankrupt and instead fight for genuine progress and national development.