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Luistro: Philippines ready for K to 12 program

MANILA, Philippines - Education Secretary Armin Luistro yesterday reiterated that the Philippines is ready to implement the K to 12 program, which will add two years in the country’s basic education program. 

“Discussions on whether we are ready or not are over. It is time to simply act on an educational reform we should have done many decades ago,” he told The STAR. 

Luistro was reacting to the statement of business tycoon Teresita Sy-Coson, the top executive of SM Investments Corp., who said the country may not be ready for the changes. 

“I’m not in favor of that... the Philippines is not a developed country and we do have a lot of poverty around. I was hoping we would have a lot of vocational schools that would train for the different skills needed by the industries to grow,” she was quoted as saying during the Forbes Global CEO Conference earlier this week.

Sy-Coson, concurrent chairman of BDO Unibank Inc., said she believes a country like the Philippines needs to have many vocational schools that can train people for various industries such as business process outsourcing. 

But Luistro said the best way to determine the country’s readiness for the program is through the 30,000 classrooms the Department of Education (DepEd) ordered constructed in 6,000 city and municipal schools.

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“The budget for 2015 and 2016 includes all the other essential inputs of teachers, equipment and resources. We call on everyone to help us and contribute constructively as we prepare for the opening of our Grade 11 classes by June 2016,” said the secretary. 

Luistro added that more than 3,000 private schools, state universities and colleges, local universities and colleges and technical vocational institutions have been given permits to open senior high schools with voucher support from the national government.

Earlier, various business groups expressed support for the K to 12 program. 

“The Enhanced Basic Education Act (Republic Act No. 10533, or the K-12 Law) is a milestone legislation that intends to bring the Philippines up to par with the rest of the world,” the different business groups led by the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) said in a statement.

“K to 12 will foster the development of competent graduates who will join the workforce and contribute to national competitiveness,” it added.

Among the groups that signed the statement are the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Makati Business Club, the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and the Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

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