Arroyo bill: 4 years of high school, 2 more years to get into college

MANILA, Philippines — As a response to senior high school graduates’ difficulty finding employment, Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (Pampanga) has filed a bill making grades 11 and 12 mandatory only for students entering college, effectively returning secondary education back to four years in basic education.

The measure replaces the current K to 12 cycles in basic education with “K + 10 + 2” — which refers to 10 years of basic education, followed by two years of post-secondary or pre-university education “compulsory only as preparation for professional degree studies,” the bill noted.

According to a copy of House Bill 7893 sent to media late Wednesday night, the bill aims to give students the option to graduate the “soonest” from high school amid the apparent bleach job market awaiting senior high school graduates despite the assumption that they are “jobs” -ready.”

“Unfortunately, the reality of the market seems to be that the private sector continues to prefer hiring college or university graduates over those who finished the K-to-12 program,” the explanatory note of the bill stated.

The bill added that “the failure of the K to 12 program” to deliver on its promised advantages adds to the burden of parents and students, who are required to take grades 11 and 12 before earning a high school diploma.

In the current DepEd basic education curriculum, those who finish grade 10 are given certificates of completion and are officially referred to as “completers,” not graduates. Diplomas go to those who finish grade 12.

“In a country like the Philippines where the poverty incidence is 18%, there should be an option for the young to graduate from basic education soonest, after four years of high school, so that they can help their parents in their farms or micro- businesses,” the bill stated.

The proposed measure aims to give high school graduates the option to enroll in grades 11 and 12 only “if they want to go on to a professional education” to “enhance their chances of succeeding in college or university and onward to professional licensure,” the bill added.

Under the measure, professional education refers to any program that requires a bachelor’s degree.

Bill filed with knowledge of Duterte and Marcos

Arroyo said in a hearing of the House basic education committee on Wednesday that she filed the bill after consultations with Vice President Sara Duterte, who is concurrently education secretary.

Arroyo said she also filed the measure with the “knowledge of the president.”

“The last two years will not be voc-tech (sic)they’ll be similar to conditional college courses in Europe, where they are preparatory to university education,” Arroyo said during the hearing on measures to improve technical-vocational education.

The measure also provides for transitory provisions to help the three education agencies — the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority — transition from the current K to 12 program to the proposed K+10+2 program .

“The strategies may cover changes in physical infrastructure, manpower, organizational and structural concerns, to include the students’ pursuit of post-secondary technical or vocational certificates, and transitions for those availing of the ladderized education program,” the bill noted.

The bill also allows for an initial rollout or modeling of the “pre-university education” to take place in select schools to “simulate” the transition process and “provide concrete data for the transition plan.”

“Said strategies shall replace the need for Implementing Rules and Regulations,” the bill noted.

Aside from converting senior high to pre-university education, the bill also proposes for kindergarten and the first three years of elementary education, instruction, teaching materials and assessment to be delivered in students’ native language, after which DepEd will provide a “mother tongue” transition program” from Grade 4 to Grade 6.

This is “so that English shall be gradually introduced as the language of instruction until such time when it can become the primary language of instruction at the secondary level,” the bill stated.

Republic Act No. 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 added two years of senior high school to secondary education and replaced the old curriculum with one designed to qualify students for employment even without a college degree.

Since then, however, the program has been marred with criticism, with Duterte himself acknowledging in January that industry partners have been reluctant to hire senior high graduates.

Duterte said in the department’s first Basic Education Report in January that the “promise” to produce employable K-12 graduates “remains a promise.”

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