THE SECOND batch of students who have completed six years of high school, a concomitant of Republic Act 10533, will leave their schools in the next week or so.(RA 10533 is the K-12 Act)
What have they gained from the additional two years of high school? Not a lot is the consensus.
Concerns about quality of education have been expressed by many. In Panay News (April 4), reelectionist Sen. Sonny Angara said that we should pay teachers more if we want to improve the quality of education in Philippine public schools. There may be a problem in implementing pay hikes for teachers. This is because they are part of the government’s standard salary grades. Entry level, fully qualified teachers hold Salary Grade 11, currently receiving a monthly base pay of P20, 179. The problem is that Salary Grade 11 is determined by a job evaluation scheme so that teachers are considered to be the equivalent of other government officials also occupying Salary Grade 11 positions.
It would seem, therefore, that entry-level teachers cannot simply be regraded to a higher-grade without disrupting the whole of government officialdom.
I am not sure how this difficulty can be resolved. Firstly, however, it should be recognized openly. Once the problem is defined, then we may see the beginnings of a solution.
Teachers, therefore, are tethered to government pay scales whereas, as we have seen, Police Officers are not, so that major salary increases can and have been implemented.
In many countries, teachers and police officers receive similar salaries. The situation in the Philippines is unusual which may well engender difficulties in the future.
One possible solution is to create more promoted posts so that teachers can have a reasonable salary progression.
There was considerable opposition throughout the Nation to the passage of the K-12 Act, partly because there was cynicism as to whether the benefits stated by Armin Luistro, Secretary, Department of Education (2010-2016) would materialize. These purported benefits included (i) global competitiveness. (ii) enthusiasm from employers, (iii) decongesting the curriculum.
None of these benefits have transpired.
Furthermore, the role of national examinations has diminished. Students ‘graduate’ from Grade 12 without any rigorous assessment of their progress. How can the vast expenditure on education be justified if there is no understanding of what has been achieved?
As soon as RA 190533 was signed by President Aquino on May 15, 2013 there were those who prepared petitions assailing the Act which they submitted to the Supreme Court (SC). Six were received. The SC then made inquiries to relevant government instrumentalities. (Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Department of Labor and Employment). It is not clear what dialogue, if any, emerged.
The SC went quiet about RA 10533 in 2016 without giving any findings.
It was not until the departure of former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno that the SC reconsidered K-12.
In 2018, the SC in a document signed by Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa unsurprisingly lumped all six petitions assailing RA 10533 and peremptorily rejected them all.
Not SC’s finest hour.
Apart from the vexed question of teachers’ salaries, our education system is not currently receiving effective scrutiny.