IT'S A GO FOR K TO 12 | SC rejects TRO bid vs PNoy's main education reform

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MANILA - The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed several petitions seeking an injunction to stop implementation of the controversial K to 12 program, centerpiece of the Aquino administration’s effort to reform the country’s educational system.

“The Court denied the prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and or writ of preliminary injunction,” SC Public Information Office Chief, lawyer Theodore Te said after the en banc session.

Among the petitioners who asked the high court to scuttle the K to 12 were the Council for Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities of the Philippines, et al., Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, et al., UP professor Eduardo Alicias, et al., Richard Troy Colmenares, et al., Congressman Antonio Tinio, et al. and Ma. Dolores Brillantes, et al.

They argued that the Department of Education usurped the power of Congress to create laws when it issued in 2012 the guidelines contained in DepEd Order 31, laying down the policy for implementation of K to 12 even before lawmakers had passed the K to 12 law.

The K to 12 program failed to provide teachers and non-teaching staff full labor protection and full employment as mandated under Article XIII, Section 3 of the Constitution, petitioners said.

The petition said 56,771 of 111,351 college teachers and 22,838 non-teaching staff nationwide are in danger of losing their employment once the law is fully implemented in school year 2016-2017.

Petitioners said the K-12 law violated their constitutional rights to due process and equal protection. They assailed the lack of consultation with parents and teachers prior to the issuance of the order.

The high court in 2015 granted the petition of National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera seeking to stop the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) from taking out of the new college curriculum mandatory subjects such as the Filipino language and Literature.

The new college curriculum which is part of the K to 12 program is contained in Memorandum Order No. 20, Series of 2013 issued by CHED.  


People power, oral arguments

The Suspend K to 12 Alliance, which is included in the groups of petitioners, said in a statement that it was “saddened” upon learning of the SC decision and called for “people power as the only recourse against K to 12”.  

“We call upon students, teachers, parents and concerned citizens to collectively carry on with the fight against this anti-Filipino, labor export policy-obsessed, anti-teacher and anti-student education scheme,” it added in its statement.

ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio, one of the main petitioners, urged the high court “to reconsider its stance and to summon petitioners and respondents in oral argument sessions, so as to expose the unconstitutionality of the K to 12 Program which violates the people’s right to free education, teachers’ right to security of tenure, and the constitutional provisions on nationalism as a core foundation of education.”

The Suspend K to 12 Alliance emphasized in its statement that the SC did not even summon respondents and petitioners in oral argument sessions.

Lumbera, another lead petitioner, also remarked that the SC decision “will negatively affect the molding of nationalist and socially-conscious citizens of the Philippines, as K to 12 abolished Philippine History in high school, and Filipino, Literature and Philippine Government & Constitution in college.”

Lumbera expressed his hope that “the Supreme Court will be persuaded to revise its stance, once the voices of those who will be affected by K to 12 are heard in oral arguments sessions.”

The Suspend K to 12 Alliance “vowed to conduct more forums and assemblies to help expose the ill effects of K to 12, and carry on with the struggle for its suspension or junking.”

Students hit SC decision

“This spells a disaster for the future of hundreds of thousands to a million Filipino youth,” said League of Filipino Students (LFS) national chairperson Charisse Bañez in a statement.

Bañez maintained that almost a million students will be either forced to enter private school or drop out of high school education since the Department of Education (DepEd) can only absorb a maximum of 1.3 million students in public senior high schools.

According to the youth leader, their independent studies showed that there are currently about 2 million Grade 10 students and only half of them can be accommodated in public senior high schools.

“The pronouncements of DepEd that students have secured senior high schools are meaningless. Even after the registration last year, students do not have any assurance that they will be able to secure their enlisted slots,” said Bañez.

“According to the reports we received, students have enlisted their names for certain SHS track but when they asked about the steps on how to secure their slot, they were answered with uncertainties from teachers who were also unsure of the process,” Bañez added.

Bañez said that K to 12 will only produce around a million drop outs, dramatically increasing the number of out-of-school youth in the country. Bañez noted that K to 12 ensures profit of private schools over the youth’s right to education.

“According to the December 2015 data of DepEd, private senior high schools still dominate the National Capital Region (NCR). Only 2 out of 10 SHS are public SHS. There are a total of 933 senior high and only 197 of which are public. The remaining schools are private SHS, private higher education institutions, or state university or colleges which demand high tuition and other school fees,” Bañez added. 

According to Bañez, public schools cannot even provide SHS slots for their current Grade 10 students, citing Araullo High School in NCR, which can only accept 100 students for their Grade 11 even though there are 1,090 grade 10 students in Araullo High Schools.

Bañez added that the K to 12 program is also being used as an argument of private higher education institutions in increasing tuition and other school fees for college education.

DepEd chief exalted

Education Secretary Armin Luistro heaved a sigh of relief after hearing of the SC decision shortly after he faced the media when the program of Education Nation’s Launch of a Unifying Education Reform Agenda for the Next President held at Tower Club in Makati City just ended.

Luistro admitted that he was bothered by the idea of “what if” the SC did not come out with the decision immediately.

“There would be chaos because they (students) can no longer apply for college. There will be no time to do that,” he said.

He stressed: “I'm very grateful for the deliberation that went through and the decision of SC.”

With SC’s decision, he said, DepEd now can focus on the full implementation assuring that K to 12 will run smoothly as 5,942 DepEd schools and 4,672 private and High School and private Higher Education Institutions are K to 12 ready come June.

Earlier, Luistro expressed the strong belief that the K to 12 Program will be successful because the head of the regional and division offices nationwide are all capable persons.

“I think the program [K to 12] is only on the implementation phase that even if I leave my post, I think it’s all set. The regional and division officials will do their part. Sila na mismo ang gagawa ng paraan to make this program successful,” Luistro said adding that the early registration recorded 1.3 million students nationwide for K to 12.

In December 4, some 1,000 DepEd regional and division offices nationwide participated in the two-day event held at Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City to report the progress of various strategies employed for the promotion and implementation of the K to 12 Program, specifically the SHS segment, in their respective areas.

During the conference, the strategies highlighted in Luistro’s synthesis were the K to 12 caravans and unique approaches, such as Teaching Strategy Festivals and Heroic Mobile Advocacy.