Recto: Lack of tech-voc labs to torpedo K to 12 program

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Monday, March 30, 2015

THE lack of technical-vocational laboratories in the country's 7,916 public high schools will torpedo the key objective of the K to 12 program, which is to produce employable graduates, Senator Ralph Recto said Monday.

"This is one undiscussed weakness of K to 12. The lack of vocational labs has not caught our attention. Although it is too big to ignore, it has remained under the radar," said Recto.

"(The lack of tech-voc labs) would only mean that the promised skills training, which is a major plank of the K to 12 curriculum, might not happen," he added.


Recto said there must be technical-vocational laboratories in 2016, the year when the first batch of Grade 11 students will show up in school.

However, Recto said only 455 laboratories, which costs P2.5 million, will be built by the Department of Education (DepEd) for 2015, "clearly leaving a huge backlog."

Recto said the laboratories are essential under the K to 12 curriculum because Grade 11 and graduating Grade 12 students have the option to choose a "track" to specialize on, one of which is technical-vocational-livelihood.

The other specialization paths students can choose are general academic; science technology, engineering, mathematics or STEM; accountancy, business and management; and sports, arts and design.

"The K to 12 was sold to the public on the promise that high school students enrolled on the tech-voc track will have an employable skill or trade upon graduation," Recto said.

Under the K to 12 blueprint, high school technical-vocational graduates can apply for a National Certificate Level II certificate and can secure one once they hurdle the test conducted by Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).

But Recto said the technical-vocational track can only be pursued if there are laboratories, workshops, and equipment which students can use in honing their skills.

Recto said competency can only be developed through "hands-on learning and practice."

"If the student wants to study dressmaking, then, that student will have to operate an actual sewing machine. If he wants to learn cabinet making, he cannot do it without carpentry tools," he said.

"You can't be a cook by just watching Chef Logro on TV. You must be in a real, not virtual, kitchen. Welding and automotive repair are skills which can't be acquired by reading magazines alone," the senator added.

Recto said the Senate has been aware of the lack of facilities, which has to add P1 billion to the Basic Education Facilities (BEF) budget of the DepEd for 2015.

The amount, Recto said, can be added to the P1.137 billion for new technical-vocational facilities.

Under the education department’s BEF budget for the year, which costs P53.9 billion, P48.1 billion is allocated for new classrooms, structures, including technical-vocational laboratories; P2.94 billion for the repairs of existing facilities; P1.2 billion for new desks, furniture and fixtures; and P1.63 billion for classrooms built under the public-private partnership method.

Recto said the problem of equipment is present in all of the K to 12 tracks and not just in technical-vocational track alone.

"In STEM, the students there will need science laboratories and there is a huge backlog on this, too," Recto said.

"Even Tesda may not be able to absorb high school students who may wish to cross study in its facilities or in its accredited training centers," he added.

For 2015, Tesda's capital outlay budget is P20 million, as recommended by the executive branch.

"To its credit, Tesda is training thousands of high school tech-voc teachers. But after they have been trained, how can they impart what they have learned it there are no laboratories in their schools?" Recto said. (Sunnex)

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