Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Aquino govt plans to add 2 more years to basic education

May extend Arroyo's cash transfer program
Gigi Muñoz David
Manila Standard

THE incoming Aquino administration will push to institute a 12-year system of basic education, adding a year each to grade school and high school.

In an interview with radio dzMM, Florencio Abad, campaign manager for President-elect Benigno Aquino III, said the 12-year system would include seven years of elementary education, five years of secondary schooling, and an extra year of pre-schooling before Grade 1.

Abad, who is tipped to become Education secretary, said the 12-year plan was part of Aquino’s 10-point agenda, and that the current system of six years in grade school and four years in high school was obsolete.

He said one Japanese consultant observed that Filipino students tired more easily than Japanese ones “because we cram so many subjects in such a short period of time.”

“What happens is that there are subjects that high school graduates don’t really get to focus on, like introduction to calculus or the science and math subjects. Students aren’t given enough time to study and delve deeper into the subjects,” Abad said.

He said students in Japan and South Korea actually spent up to 14 years in school before entering college.

To discourage dropouts, the Aquino administration is considering extending President Gloria Arroyo’s cash transfer program, which gives poor families P1,500 a month for keeping their children in school.

“We may need to extend that program so that the parents will get some support or subsidy while their kids are in school,” he said.

The Arroyo administration’s Education officials had spoken out in favor of a 12-year program before, but acknowledged that the proposal was “politically difficult” to carry out because parents would oppose the higher costs involved in keeping their children in school for two more years.

In 2008, the Education Department sought to revive a mandatory 12-year program, telling a House committee that the Philippines was the only country with just 10 years of basic education.

A Department official, Milagros Talino, told a congressional hearing this was one reason the country had a low level of learning compared to other countries.

She said President Arroyo supported the proposal and even wanted a year of pre-school included.

Chairman Emmanuel Angeles of the Commission on Higher Education said the country should add at least two more years to its basic education to conform with international standards and improve high school graduates’ chances to succeed in college.

Classes began for 24 million students Tuesday, with 86 percent of them or 20.17 million going to public schools.

Of the total, 1.33 million are in preschool, 14.61 million are in elementary school, and 7.1 million are in high school. Another 400,000 are in alternative learning systems. About 1 million out-of-school youth are expected to return to formal schooling.

The country has a 1:45 ratio of classrooms to students, which is below the 1:35 international standard,

“Even if our classrooms are packed, we are finding ways to get them all in and make sure they get taught and learn,” Education Secretary Mona Valisno told reporters Tuesday.

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