Next government asked to address senior high dropout crisis
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - June 16, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Critics of K-12 program are seeking intervention of the incoming administration to address the problem involving the high number of junior high school completers who opted not to proceed to the senior high school program.

The Department of Education (DepEd) meanwhile downplayed concerns over the dropout rate, saying a clearer picture would be seen once transmission of enrollment data is finished.

Speaking at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum yesterday, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV expressed alarm over what he dubbed as a “dropout crisis” supposedly due to the failure of government to prepare for the education reform program.

He called on DepEd to recognize Grade 10 completers as high school graduates and allow them to pursue higher education.

Under the K-12, students who finished junior high school in March are required to complete the additional two years in basic education – known as senior high school – before they can proceed to college.

“For the Duterte administration, to DepEd, try to find a way to get these kids to graduate high school,” said Trillanes. “These kids should be able to pursue higher learning system given that they finished Grade 10.”

Incoming Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago also urged the government to allow junior high school completers to pursue higher education, citing problems in the implementation of the K-12 program.

Earlier, Education Secretary Armin Luistro said they estimate around 1.1 million of the 1.4 million junior high school completers have enroled in senior high school, resulting in a possible 200,000 to 400,000 students who would not proceed to Grade 11 this year.

But during the forum yesterday, DepEd assistant secretary Jesus Mateo said enrollment figures would only stabilize after two weeks as data are still coming in, citing transmission problems from schools in far-flung areas.

He said latest data from their online system put enrolment at over 700,000 as of yesterday, but they expect it to increase in the coming days.

Mateo maintained that DepEd has prepared for the implementation of the program, which is supported by a law passed in 2013.

He also reiterated previous statements of Luistro and incoming education secretary Leonor Briones that the estimated number of students who did not proceed to Grade 11 is still lower than historic data on high school graduates who proceeded to college.

Briones earlier cited figures showing that only 50 percent of high school graduates proceed to college prior to the implementation of the K-12 program.

‘Dropout crisis’

But Trillanes, a critic of K-12, said the government has been remiss in its preparations, citing problems encountered during the opening of classes on Monday.

He also called on the Supreme Court (SC) to rule on the petitions against the program, among them the one that he filed last year.

“I call on the Supreme Court, I reiterate – there is a crisis. You need to suspend the K-12 program,” he said.

The SC earlier denied various petitions for the issuance of a temporary restraining order against the implementation of the program.

Trillanes also said that he is willing to support legislation that could support those who did not proceed to senior high school, but said they need to have a clear picture of the situation first.

Mateo said enrollment data would be available within the month.

In a separate statement, Briones said she intends to strengthen the alternative learning system under her watch to ensure that no Filipino youth is left behind.

‘Curfew may affect night shift students’

Meanwhile, youth groups against the K-12 program have set a nationwide protest tomorrow.

The newly organized Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) based in University of the Philippines Diliman also expressed “deep concern” over the Philippine National Police’s “Oplan Rody” or the imposition of a 10 p.m. curfew for minors in Metro Manila.

SPARK pointed out that the curfew might affect thousands of students enrolled in the last shift of classes and working students enrolled in night classes.

Due to student congestion, classes are divided into three shifts in some public schools to accommodate all enrollees. In some schools the last shift ends at 9 p.m.?“Chances of these students going beyond the curfew will also be amplified with the upcoming monsoon rains and expected heavy flooding, add the lamentable state of the public transportation system and road networks which will all contribute to the longer travel time from school,” said SPARK leader Joanne Lim. ?Lim also said working students are more likely to be assigned to graveyard shifts so as not to conflict with class schedules. – With Ding Cervantes

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