Published: June 18, 2012
Barely two weeks before the commencement of President Noynoy Aquino’s second year in office, Anakbayan led hundreds of out-of-school youth, high school and college students in a march to Mendiola, Manila to condemn the worsening education crisis under Aquino and his continued puppetry to US-dictated globalization policies.
The national organization of young workers and peasants, out-of-school and community youth and students assailed the Aquino government for rising school dropout rate, blaming state policy of cutbacks on budget for public education, deregulation of education and relentless tuition and other fee increases in the past two years.
According to the youth group, about half of the youth population aged 11 to 15 are out of school and the dropout rate is at 80 percent.
Anakbayan national chairperson Vencer Crisostomo said that “8 out of 10 Filipino youths are already out of school and it is bound to get worse as the Aquino government implements the K to 12 program with desperate haste”. This year, the Department of Education began implementing the K to 12 curriculum despite the absence of an enabling law from Congress.
Anakbayan casts doubt over a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey saying that “majority of Filipinos support the K to 12 program” because it will better prepare students for work and give them sufficient knowledge to pursue college education.
Contrary to poll results and DepEd’s selling points, it will prepare students to become cheap and semi-skilled young laborers to be oppressed and exploited by profit-hungry foreign and domestic big capitalists and businesses. The re-engineered education system under the K to 12 will have the youth graduate and join the sea of unemployed at a younger age. More youths seeking employment and competing for scare low-paying jobs will pull down and lower the value of Filipino labor.
Aquino’s flagship education program is much-touted as the magic solution to the country’s dismal education quality. Anakbayan, on the other hand, said that it is a “lame attempt to cover up the perennial problem of diminishing budget for state education”. Aquino alloted a measly P 238.8 billion, only P 7 per student per day, for education; or 2.1 percent instead of the UNESCO recommended 6 percent of a country’s GDP.
“Aquino’s diminishing budget for basic and secondary education is to blame as public schools will continue to suffer from a shortage of 132,438 teachers, 97,685 classrooms and 153,709 water and sanitation facilities”, said Crisostomo.
Further on, the implementation of the K to 12 program will aid the government achieve its end of abandoning tertiary education. By rendering college education as non-essential, its policy of complete cut off of state support for state-run colleges and universities is justified. This school year, universities that received budget cuts such as University of the Philippines, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Mindanao State University and 12 others in the Cordilleras hiked their tuition and other fees.
Ulimately, the K to 12 will lead to the further deregulation and privatization of education and higher tuition rates. The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) recently approved tuition hikes in 267 private schools across the country at an average rate of 10 percent. The biggest private schools in the country are consistently among the top corporations amassing billions in net profits during the past years.
“The implementation of the K to 12 program, cutbacks on social spending on education and other social services to justify deregulation of education are part of the government’s effort to comply with US-dictated globalization policies. The Aquino government is engaging in a massive sell-out of our youth’s future”, the youth leader said.
“The Philippine economy can only create employment through foreign investment and export of labor. Aquino is implementing these flawed education policies to make Filipino labor ever cheaper and win out the competition for foreign investments among backward, agrarian and non-industrial countries”, Crisostomo ended.
Various youth groups are set mobilize on June 26 at Mendiola, Manila as youth leaders and teachers hold a dialogue in Malacañang on the K to 12 program. The youth are gearing up for street protests towards Aquino’s end of second year and his third State of the Nation Address.