YEARENDER: DepEd marks milestones, implements K to 12 program
Ghio Ong, Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - December 25, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The year 2013 marked important milestones for the Department of Education (DepEd), with the passage of the K to 12 Enhanced Basic Education Program into law and near achievement of zero backlog in classrooms.

“We have a lot to be proud of, and a lot more to accomplish,” Education Secretary Armin Luistro said.

President Aquino signed on May 15 the K to 12 Enhanced Basic Education Program into law, making kindergarten compulsory and adding two years to the country’s basic education scheme.

Prior to the implementation of the K to 12, the Philippines was one of the last three countries in the world with a 10-year basic education program, the other two being Djibouti and Angola.

The K to 12 program is composed of the universal kindergarten, six years of elementary, four years of junior high school and two more years of senior high school.

Luistro said the senior high school curriculum is on its final editing phase.

The senior high school program provides sufficient time for students to master “concept and skills, develop lifelong learners and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment and entrepreneurship.”

Anti-Bullying Act

Another important legislation – the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013 – was also enacted this year.

The President signed the Anti-Bullying Law on Sept. 12, which requires elementary and secondary schools to adopt policies that will prevent and address bullying.

The Philippines is one of the first nations to have come up with a law against bullying, including cyber-bullying.

As of last September, the DepEd said it has received and resolved 1,456 cases of bullying and child abuse.

 Meeting backlogs

The education department has completely addressed the 2010 backlog in textbooks and school seats, attaining a 1:1 student to textbook and student to school seat ratio, according to Luistro.

He said the agency hired 102,623 teachers since 2010.

“Combined with the 43,201 kinder volunteers and LGU-hired teachers, this effectively addressed the 145,827 backlog,” the DepEd chief said.

However, the agency may likely miss its 2013 target to address backlogs in public school classrooms as tens of thousands of classrooms destroyed by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake and typhoon Yolanda need to be replaced.

The DepEd said about 5,900 classrooms in the Visayas and Palawan were destroyed while 14,508 were partially damaged by Yolanda.

 It needs at least P12 billion for the replacement and repair of the damaged classrooms.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has donated P2 billion to DepEd for the repair and reconstruction of classrooms damaged by Yolanda.

Luistro said 62,336 classrooms or 93.3 percent of the 66,800 backlog have been constructed.

A total of 4,464 are currently being constructed and targeted to be finished before yearend, he said.

“Because of the various calamities that beset the country, we are humbled by the realization that whatever we build, whatever we value, may be lost overnight,” Luistro said.

“But it is important to never lose hope, because it is what helps us to get to where we are today, and it is what fuels the changes and accomplishments that we still desire to achieve for our learners and our country,” he added.

Luistro earlier said the budget for classrooms intended for 2014 might be realigned for the replacement and rehabilitation of classrooms in schools hit by Yolanda.

The DepEd’s budget for next year is P337.9 billion, about 14.8 percent higher than the P293.4 billion the department received this year.

The agency originally proposed a P334-billion budget for 2014, but Malacañang added nearly P3 billion for the early implementation of senior high school.

The House of Representatives has allotted another P1 billion for the agency’s nationwide school feeding program next year.

Meanwhile, Luistro said that beginning school year 2015-2016, the DepEd will increase its subsidy for students in private high schools outside Metro Manila.

This school year, the DepEd provided assistance to 808,970 students under the education service contracting (ESC) scheme.

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