‘I talk to the trees. . . . . .’

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By Neil Honeyman

An Independent View

Monday, June 30, 2014

VERY belatedly, the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) Chairperson Dr. Patricia Licuanan admits that the Commission had not anticipated the issues associated with implementing Republic Act 10533 which revises the education system. This is regrettable. Parents were making articulate representations to schools and elsewhere about the defects and consequences of K to 12 implementation as early as February 2012, a full year before Republic Act 10533 was passed.

The education sector speciously claimed to have had consultations with “stakeholders,” which means nearly all of us, but it is only now that those responsible for education policies are beginning to understand what we have been telling them for over two years.

Ched is now seeking P29 billion of public funds to subsidize losses that would be incurred with R.A. 10533 implementation.


What was Ched doing in 2012 and early 2013 when R.A. 10533 was being drafted? Why did it not evaluate and then explain the consequences of the Act? And what were our legislators doing?

They allowed themselves to be railroaded by the Executive Branch into passing the Act before their deliberations were completed. I believe that they considered that as with the Sugar Act and the Education Act would have been deferred until the 16th Congress (2013-2016).

But former Senate President Enrile and House Speaker Belmonte were persuaded (how?) to sign on January 30, 2013 the Act as though it had been properly passed. The act was substantially different from the draft House Bill (HB6643) and Senate Bill (SB3286). None of our elected representatives had any say in R.A. 10533 which was approved by President Aquino on May 15, 2013. This is an example of what I mean when I say that the Legislative Branch is now the weakest branch of government.

Ched Executive Director Julito Vitriolo admits that the P29 billion subsidy sought by Ched is only a drop in the bucket. “This is a small amount compared to projected revenue losses of the private sector which could amount to hundreds of billions,” he said.

Licuanan said “it would be unfair to have students take academic track courses in senior high school, only to repeat them in first years of college.” Why is she saying this only now? We were saying it more than two years ago. These are the issues that should have been hammered out before any act was passed. Not after.

Now we have to try to engage in sophistries to avoid the wasteful mess that unelected civil servants have got us into.

The first thing to do is to recognize the huge disparity in academic achievement by fourth year high school of public high school pilot classes and many private school compared to the average public school student. Pilot class and private school students are well able to benefit from tertiary sector education after four years of high school.

Let the average public school student have a fifth and sixth year high school. This will give him the chance to benefit from tertiary education if he wishes. La Salle is already, by manipulation, pretending that its four year high school program is K-12 “compliant” when it is nothing of a kind. Students will enter fourth year high school which La Salle deceitfully calls Grade 12. If La Salle can do this why not other private schools?

The cracks in R.A. 10533 are appearing. We need ideas that are “radical but doable” to quote Licuanan.

We hope these ideas are forthcoming. If the civil servants have creative difficulties, they can consult, properly this time, parents who have plenty to say.

It is never too late to make amends.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 30, 2014.


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