MANILA, Philippines - Two progressive bloc lawmakers questioned the government's implementation of home study programs to decongest 5 Quezon City Public schools.
They called it as a "band aid" solution to the problems of the country's educational sector.
Speaking on the 1st day of classes for public schools, Kabataan partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino said that after he made some rounds of schools around Batasan Pambansa, he found out that school officials have implemented innovations to address classroom shortage.
"Twenty percent ng population, homestudy. Saturday ka lang papasok. Kasi nga para walang overcrowded. Band aid or artificial solution sa problem ng lack of classrooms," he said.
He pointed out that some of those in the home study programs are "repeaters" who actually need more attention.
Palatino visited the Batasan National High School and the Payatas B Elementary School.
He said school officials were instructed to decongest classrooms, forcing them to reject students.
Palatino said this alternative delivery of education is likely to draw the ire of parents.
"Nag-rereklamo, paano pag nagtrabaho mga magulang Saturday lang sila papasok. Through Internet or sa library pero paano pag walang Internet. Tapos may research day, rest day iyun. 'Di siya sa buong bansa, dito sa QC mga overcrowded. Implemented sa 5 schools," he said.
ACT party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio said homestudy programs are suited for students under special circumstances like those in show business.
"Mainly for exceptional cases. Ina-apply na siya on a mass scale as a band aid solution to the shortage of classrooms and teachers. Batasan Hills national has 14,000 ang student population. Kapag sinabi na 20% naka home study, 2,800 ang naka home study. Di na angkop."
Palatino said this puts into question the implementation of the K+12 revised educational system this school year.
Tinio said government can start preparing for K-12 by regularizing 20,000 kindergarten teachers who have been hired on a contractual basis. "'Di tayo makakauha ng quality education kung binabayaran ng starvation wages, P3,000 kada buwan. Pinakamababa sa government service."
Palatino said the country still does not have the necessary elements to ensure the success of the K+12 program, like good learning environment and access to resources.
He said government has been underspending on education, pointing out that the global standard for educational spending is equivalent to 6% of the GDP.
Palatino also said that in the last budget hearing for the K+12 program, the budget department was noncommittal when asked if it will fund the additional P100 million that the education department wants for the program.
He said that as things stand, some students can barely pass into Grade 6 or graduate from high school—which is why the additional 2 years will just be "torture" to students and parents."
Palatino said there is still no empirical evidence that the additional years will improve learning. "Instead of being the solution, K+12 could worsen the crisis. Iyan ang reminder sa DepEd."
Tinio said the classroom shortage got more pronounced this year with some 1.6 million kindergarten enrollees creating the need for 25,000 new classrooms.
"In fact, iyung instructions sa DepEd order on implementation, make use of any available spaces. Many schools, 3 shifts ang kinder -- umaga, hapon, gabi. Pagdeploy ng contractual kindergarten teachers unprecedented sa ilalim ni Pangulong Aquino at Secretary Luistro," he said.
He believes that the first phase of the program's implementation "has been a disaster."
Tinio said even teachers still lack the necessary training for the K+12 roll out.
Palatino reminded government that revisions to the curriculum 10 years ago have yet to result in improved learning.
He also said it's not a guarantee for jobs after basic school, noting that job creation is not a function of schools.