WITH the government’s continued investment in basic education, the Department of Education (DepEd) vowed to strengthen reforms to ensure a safer and learner-centered education for Filipino children.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro said DepEd has sustained the foundations of reforms by empowering not only the learners but also DepEd teachers and personnel of public schools nationwide through various programs that aim to improve learning, curriculum delivery and processes. Because of this, DepEd has achieved a teacher-to-student ratio of 1:36 for elementary public schools and 1:27 in secondary schools in 2015. It has also proposed the creation of over 60,000 teacher items for 2016.
Meanwhile, education leadership and management is strengthened through the Superintendents’ Leadership Program (SLP) having trained 218 superintendents and other school officials deployed in 174 division offices across all 17 regions.
DepEd is also enhancing its curriculum delivery and organizational processes in response to continuous engagement from learners and key stakeholders through the implementation of the Continuous Improvement Program (CIP).
Luistro also said the department is providing more access to hard-to-reach learners. The Abot-Alam Program, Special Education and Indigenous Peoples’ Education (Iped) are among the agency’s last-mile efforts to make sure that “no learners are left behind”.
As of the first quarter of 2015, among those who enrolled are 30 percent of the 2.67 million out-of-school youth (OSY) mapped. To date, there are 1.2 million IP learners and 470,276 Alternative Learners.
To top it all, Luistro said, there has been a 110-percent increase in the education budget from 2009 to 2015—from P174.5 billion to P367.1 billion. Of this amount, he said, “We will always endeavor to make sure that every cent is spent for the rightful purpose.”
The needed change
Luistro also emphasized that the kind of change that is needed now is the K-to-12 Program.
“Everyone wants change. Indeed, our nation needs change—just as the education system had warranted a major overhaul through the K-to-12 Program. After all, this need for a change was the reason behind our resolve to implement the reform program amid the many challenges before it,” Luistro said.
He added: “The kind of change that we need the most at this point is the one that shall build on the foundations of education reform that we have already painstakingly laid and not the kind that will seek to undo this.”
Days before the election, the DepEd chief reminded parents and teachers before they cast their vote to “protect and promote the right of every Filipino to quality, equitable, culture-based and complete basic education” so that they “form values and competencies” that will “enable them to realize their full potential and contribute meaningfully to building the nation”.
“Our 24 million learners are our future, but the foundations of their future will lie in the hands of the leaders that we will place in office. You all owe it to our 24 million learners to vote wisely.”
With the opening of the Senior High School (SHS) Program come June 13, Luistro said that his agency is expecting over 25 million students in both public and private schools.
Incoming new administration supports the K-to-12 Program
On May 16, Luistro lauded the support of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte to the K-to-12 Program.
“I am grateful and very appreciative that the new administration [of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte] is supportive of the educational reforms that the DepEd, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and Commission on Higher Education, along with our stakeholders, have worked on the past six years,” Luistro said.
In a briefing on May 23, Duterte said he now supports the K-to-12 Program after it was thoroughly explained to him.
“I said I was against it early on when it was being implemented. But some of the bright guys in DepEd came to see me here in Davao and explained how we are lagging behind our neighbors,” Duterte said.
The Philippines is the last country in Asia and one of only three countries worldwide, apart from Angola and Djibouti, with a 10-year pre-university cycle.
“I am currently attending the 9th Asean Education Ministers meeting in Kuala Lumpur and our discussions here are a reaffirmation of the need to take on the K-to-12 reform so as to ensure that we can keep pace with the education standards of Asean and the world,” Luistro said.
“I trust that the next administration will build on the gains and enhance the achievements made in the education sector, while taking on the new challenges in the ever-changing landscape in this part of the globe” he added.
The K-to-12 Program added two years in high school, Grades 11 and 12, and institutionalized the kindergarten program—covering a total of 13 years of basic education.