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Philippines: Educators condemn new Government policy

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), one of EI’s affiliates in the Philippines, has objected to the new Government policy on Education, which proposes extending formal education by two years, without increasing the number of teachers, classrooms and other basic facilities.

“The prevailing education crisis must be addressed more fundamentally and their proposed K-12 programme, President Aquino’s supposed legacy to the Filipino people, would only exacerbate the situation,” Frances Castro, ACT General Secretary said.

Need to focus on basic quality education factors

“Instead of listening carefully and investigating properly the situation on the ground, President Aquino and his followers are blindly determined to implement K-12, which is the title of the planned change. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda admitted that at present, there is a shortage of 50,000 classrooms, but we cannot wait for the classrooms to be built before we implement the K-12 programme.”

“Our government’s resources for education have been found insufficient for the present 10-year cycle, how will it be able to afford a K-12 model? Castro asked. A comprehensive review and planning is needed before reforms are introduced in our education system.”

ACT believes that prioritising the implementation of quality kindergarten education and addressing the deplorable shortage in basic education inputs, such as teachers, classrooms, textbooks, chairs and sanitation facilities will be more effective.

Days before school opening, the national Education Secretary, Armin Luistro, had announced that “all students who will come to school on the first day of classes will have a seat and textbook ready for them.”

But he also admitted that within four years, shortages should be solved, and the three key factors in improving access and quality basic education in the country, i.e. improvement of teacher quality, enhancement of curriculum through the K-12 programme and achievement of set goals in addressing resource deficits, should be addressed.

While the number of student enrolments is steadily increasing in the country, the shortage of teachers, classrooms, chairs, books and sanitation facilities is not being properly addressed. The implementation of the proposed K-12 programme has been inadequately planned and has a deficient curricular proposal with no provision for the necessary extensive training. Some teachers paid from their own pockets for the reproduction of curriculum guides and partial modules prepared by the training team, ACT noted.

EI resolution on the Asia-Pacific region

“The EI resolution adopted at last year’s World Congress held in Cape Town, South Africa, recognises that the deteriorating economic circumstances in many countries in the Asia-Pacific Region is jeopardising the capacity of national governments to maintain and increase public investment in education, social services and public infrastructure,”acknowledged EI Chief regional Coordinator for Asia-Pacific, Aloysius Matthews.

He however quickly underlined that “all countries in the region must prioritise investment in public education as the most effective way to stimulate economic growth and social stability and cohesion.”

Matthews went on to explain that national governments recognise the value of entering into partnership with trade union organisations in planning and implementing programmes for economic recovery and development. Together with international financial institutions, they must cease undermining the already inadequate terms and conditions of employment of many education and other public service workers in the region as a means of restoring national economies.

The full EI World Congress Resolution on Asia-Pacific can be found here.

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