They urged Duterte to reject the “elitist, colonial and repressive” education that widens the gap between the rich and the poor.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – In anticipation of the incoming administration, public school teachers under the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) came up with an eight-point agenda, which they hope will be heeded by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
“We want the government to totally reject neoliberal policies and push for nationalist, mass-based and scientific education,” said ACT Teachers’ Partylist Rep. France Castro. This, Castro said, the outgoing Aquino administration failed to do.
Under the Aquino administration, education remained elitist, colonial and feudal, Castro said. She said education has been commercialized, with its budget kept at less than the recommended six percent of the Gross Domestic Product of the country. The Aquino government also promoted neoliberal policies, like labor export, which is behind the K to 12 program, she said.
ACT called on Duterte to:
1. Junk the Aquino regime’s K to 12 program. Despite newly-appointed Leonor Briones’ statement that she will continue the K to 12 program, ACT still wants the program repealed, citing that government is ill-prepared for its implementation, and it only benefited for-profit schools.
ACT president Benjie Valbuena said the Department of Education (DepEd) is deceiving the public when it said that senior high school is free and subsidized through the voucher program.
He said students who opted to avail of the voucher program in private schools will carry the burden of covering the remaining tuition. A voucher amounts to from P18,500 to P22,500 ($400 to $487), depending on the student’s location. Valbuena said a tuition of Grade 11 in private school costs at least P40,000 ($866) a year.
He added that with the K to 12 program, the youth are being trained as “slaves of cheap labor” here and abroad, as many senior high schools offer only technical-vocational courses.
2. Adapt a curriculum that fits the needs of the people and promotes progressive consciousness.
The group said the new government should formulate a curriculum that will hone students to develop a critical mind and to use their skills and talents to serve the people. They urged Duterte to reject the “elitist, colonial and repressive” education that widens the gap between the rich and the poor.
“Give importance to subjects like Filipino and History and restore the nationalist orientation that will be reflected in the books, assignments and curriculum,” said the group.
3. Stop privatization and commercialization of education.
4. Allocate six percent of GDP to education, as recommended by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).
The group said that the government only allocates two percent of the GDP to education. The increased funds will address the lack of chairs and facilities needed for basic education. The “true meaning of free education” is the implementation of the “zero collection policy” in elementary and secondary schools, as well as free tertiary education.
5. Advance the rights and welfare of teachers and non-teaching personnel.
ACT calls on the incoming administration to implement a meaningful and decent salary increase and to give priority to regularizing contractual workers.
They also called for the junking of policies that add burden to teachers, specifically the Results Based Performance Management System (RPMS) and the Performance-Based Bonus (PBB).
“Instead, the government should strictly implement a six-hour workday for teachers, leave privileges, benefits and security of tenure,” said the group.
The group said teachers and employees in private schools should also receive the same salary and benefits like their counterparts in public schools. They added that teachers and employees in private schools should also have security of tenure, rightful benefits, higher pension and right to unionize.
7. Promote peace in schools and communities. The group said the new government should respect the initiatives of indigenous peoples’ schools to build and manage their own school. They said DepEd’s Memorandum No. 221 should be revoked, as it legitimizes the presence of military troops in school premises, and had resulted to the interruption of classes and massive displacement from the community.
8. Fight for democratic rights in schools.
“Respect the rights of teachers, students and employees to organize and freedom of expression,” the group said. They called for an end to all forms of repression, abuse and killing of leaders of mass organizations.
“The problem of our country is not just about drug abuse and criminality,” said Valbuena. He stressed that they are one with the new government’s initiative to curb the problem of drugs. But beyond drugs and criminality is a crisis that past administrations failed to resolve, such as poverty, hunger, landlessness and joblessness.