Thursday, August 19, 2010

12 Year Basic Education Dependent On People’s Consensus

Atty. Allen S. Quimpo (right) discussing his position on the proposed additional two years in basic education. At left is Atty. Ronquillo C. Tolentino.

Filipinos’ ardent love for education may be put to a crucial test with a shift in government policy toward a 12 year basic education. This is the topic discussed during the Kapehan forum on August 14, 2010 at Smokehauz Resto & Bar.

Guests were Atty. Allen S. Quimpo, former Congressman who was the former chairman, Committee on Basic Education, and Atty. Ronquillo C. Tolentino, former Vice Governor educator, and writer.

Atty. Quimpo sponsored the passage of RA 9155 – An Act Reorganizing the Basic Education, RA 7796 – An Act Creating Technical Education & Skills Development Authority, and RA 7784 – An Act Strengthening Teachers’ Education. The former congressman also authored the Conversion of Aklan State College of Agriculture and four (4) other colleges into Aklan State University. After his third term in the House of Rep. he assumed as President of Northwestern Visayan Colleges, Kalibo.

According to Atty. Quimpo, education is the key to progress and development. The reason why we are still a developing country is that we have not mastered and taken full control of its power. The Philippines considerably lags behind other Asian countries even though the Americans assisted in the educational system development at the turn of the 20th century.

“Education gets 2 percent of our gross national product (GNP) when international standards would be 6 percent. Low priority on education over these years have stunted our economy, created mass exodus of skilled manpower to other countries, destabilize our political process, and created second class citizens of Filipinos working abroad. The biggest irony is that the Philippines still clings to the 10 year basic education when our Asian neighbors have long adopted the 12 year cycle,” Quimpo pointed out.

“The only way to address class dis-crimination against our professionals abroad and expedite the country’s development is to comply with this requirement. Certainly the political will must be considered in this tenuous overhaul of the educational system,” he stressed.

Atty. Tolentino clarified that Pres. Aquino’s move to add two more years to basic education is a product of 16 years of painstaking studies by academicians and scholars. At least seven previous secretaries of education have endorsed this idea but foregone implementation because of limited budget.

Under the plan, one year is added to high school and another year to college. Because of prevailing big high school dropouts, at least finishing the five year course can get a good chance at employment.

The former vice Governor noted that nursery education has taken a big drain in the budget of averaged families. For well offs, expense in Montissori education could be comparable to high school. Even though public schools are subsidized by the government, parents couldn’t help but worry about skyrocketing cost of education.

Atty. Quimpo understands the financial difficulties of parents but explained that the burden could be minimized by the government. Strategy is giving out subsidies to private schools in the amount of P3,000 (2006 data) per enrolled high school student per year. On the other hand, full government education entails a whooping P20,000 per student per year. This is one of the key provisions of Gaspe Law, Quimpo said.

The on-going discussion on quality education got a rejoinder from Dr. Ambrosio R. Villorente who mentioned that it is not enough to earn a college degree but to be patriotic. In so many instances as a society, we miserably fail to cherish our values and traditions preferring to be called brown Americans.

Dr. Gabriel Delfin, Director, Policy Studies, NVC said that RA 1414 or an Act Separating Aklan from Capiz province should be amended for “Restoration”. He said that Panay being part of the Shri-Visayan empire based in Sulu have three important settlements namely: Aklan (Akean), Iloilo (Irong-Irong) and Antique (Hamtik). In addition, Batan, former political seat of govern-ment of Aklan had similar words in Malaysia such as Batang Kayan (village) and Batang Sapar (river). Coincidental or not, the latter is viewed as convincing proof that Aklan is the ancient capital of Northern Panay said Delfin.

It is commendatory that the present administration is bent on raising standard of education. At least it is prepared financially and physically. However, the big question remains. Will the parents and local politicians support it?

Dr. Minveluz Garcia Hiatt, educator and ex-patrate in the US in an interview said that consensus of the parents must be considered. This is due to the lingering international financial difficulties that the program though invaluable be put on hold until such time recovery is imminent.

It is indeed gratifying that such a policy is planned soon. In the meantime, our bureau-crats must improve the school curriculum to suit local needs. Many unwanted baggages exist like P.E., music, arts, scouting that must be removed. Instead this can be replaced by strengthened industrial arts and home economic courses. These subjects are the foundation of craftsmanship, creativity and entrepreneurship said the lady professor.

Undoubtedly, private schools provide the best kind of education in this country. It is need-based and strives to have a healthy relationship among faculty, parents and student population.

But today, public schools are in disarray with congested classrooms (60 pupils), scanty and erroneous textbooks and reference materials, leaking roof and broken chairs/desks. It is no wonder 90 percent of students fail in the annual high school Readiness Test.

It appears that education has been downgraded by runaway population and government’s apathy to provide quality education. However, these problems are not insurmountable. So much is at stake in this 12 year basic education plan. Many thanks to Aklan CCTV for full coverage of the Kapehan forum. /MP

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