What about the small schools?

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Monday, March 30, 2015


I WATCHED Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Armin Luistro and Commission on Higher Education (Ched) Commissioner Ma. Cynthia Rose Banzon Bautista brim with enthusiasm on television as they assured the public of government’s preparedness to implement the K to 12 program by 2016.

They mentioned the enormous amount of money that has been and will be allocated for it. Which is good.

Of course, like most DepEd pronouncements in the past, there was no mention there of how private high schools in poor rural areas of the country would be helped in the setting up of facilities to serve the needs of 40 percent of public school students going to them, as mandated by DepEd.

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One hundred percent of the funds allocated by Congress for the program will be used by DepEd to serve 60 percent of Senior High Schools (SHS) in the public schools but not in the private high schools. Which is unjust.

DepEd and Ched are talking about how well-prepared they are to hire new teachers, build new classrooms, buy new equipment and compensate the thousands of college teachers that would be displaced by the K to 12 program. Which is fine.

I happen to run two schools in Camotes islands, one of the most beautiful communities in the country.

Camotes Visayan Institute (CVI), a poor private high school, survives on miscellaneous fees and a pittance from Fape-ESSC government grant subsidy of P7,500 per student per year, barely enough to pay the minimum wages of teachers.

Here, we have not heard any word on how DepEd would help us with even just one chair or one surplus computer hardware. Like hundreds of other rural private high schools, we are ill-prepared for the K to 12 program. Which is bad.

We founded Mt. Moriah College upon our permanent return from a six-year missionary service in Tanzania, East Africa. The school has received no faculty development grant or student scholarship in any of our four recognized courses in criminology, commerce, education and information technology (IT).

For the first time in 18 years, we applied last year for a Ched faculty development scholarship for Engr. Allen Dexter L. Bonjoc for a masteral degree-IT at CIT-University. Until now, Ched has not responded nor acted on that one application coursed through CIT-U--possibly for lack of funds? Incredible.

Now comes Ched Commissioner Bautista promising the moon and the stars that Ched would allocate millions of pesos for thousands of displaced college teachers by 2016. A claim that is unvouched.

The K to 12 program law has to return to Congress. For what would we do with the hundreds of private high schools that do not have budgets to improve their facilities to fit the program? The law should again be thoroughly discussed and reconsidered. And this suggestion is vital.

As a private high school, Camotes Visayan Institute cannot assure government that we will accept even a fraction of the 40 percent of senior high school students going to private schools in 2016. In Camotes, public high schools outnumber private high schools by a ratio of six to one.

Of course, we will open a senior high school but we would accept first those who have been with us since the beginning. Let DepEd take care of its own, after all it has the money.

If DepEd, by its own admission, can only serve 60 percent of senior high school entrants, then we can say it is ill-prepared for the program. --Dr. Aguido A. Magdadaro of Camotes Visayan Institute and Mt. Moriah College in Poro, Cebu


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Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 31, 2015.

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