The Supreme Court and K-12, 3

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By Neil Honeyman

An Independent View

Monday, March 30, 2015


LAST Tuesday the Supreme Court (SC) instructed education and labor officials to respond, within 10 days, to a petition seeking to stop the K-12 education program.

This means that for the first time in PNoy’s presidency, the Department of Education (DepEd) is at the receiving end of an order. DepEd is used to telling other people what to do and now it has to justify its pronouncements, many of which are debatable, untruthful, misleading, or merely wrong.

The challenge to DepEd should have come much earlier. We expected our elected representatives to craft an Act which genuinely enhanced our education system. It failed to do so. Congress allowed itself to be ridden roughshod by unelected DepEd civil servants. Members of Congress who wish to be re-elected in 2016 should explain to voters, many of whom are parents, why they allowed themselves to be pushed around by DepEd officials. It should not have happened.

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The list of people that the SC instructed to comment on the petitions makes interesting reading. They are Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) Director General Joel Villanueva, Commission on Higher Education (Ched) chairman Dr Patricia Licuanan, the Secretary General of the House of Representatives, and Miriam College. I hope they all make independent and separate submissions. Past discussions about K-12 have been truncated by DepEd’s desire to push through its agenda without rigorously understanding the impact of K-12 on the other entities which have now received the SC order. It is particularly noteworthy that the relationship between K-12 and the tertiary sector has not been properly evaluated and therefore not understood. Neither Ched nor Tesda have made effective public representations. This is highly regrettable. We expected the tertiary sector to have been more articulate and to explain to stakeholders the impact that an extra two years in high school would have on further and higher education. This was never done and so there is widespread antagonism for the K-12 concept.

It is also unconstitutional. The Constitution specifies that the education system must be integrated. To add two years to secondary education without examining the impact on tertiary education means that the integrated nature of the existing system is lost.

On Wednesday I shall discuss the unsatisfactory passage of RA 10533 through Congress and the potential impact of our education system on the Asean labor market.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 30, 2015.

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