MANILA, Philippines --- After the first week of classes for school year (SY) 2012-2013, a teachers group gave the Department of Education (DepEd) a "B" for "insisting" on the implementation of the K to 12 Basic Education Program despite the glaring problems in the country's public school system.
Using the new grading system prescribed by DepEd under the K to 12 as standard, the Teachers' Dignity Coalition (TDC) gave the government and DepEd a "B" for its "performance showed during the first week of the school year, which is also the pilot year of the controversial program."
Based on the grading system for the K to 12 program as contained under DepEd Order No. 31, Series of 2012, to be used starting this school year, "B" stands for "Beginning" that has a numeric equivalent of 74 percent and below.
Other marks are "D" for Developing (75 to 79 percent) "AP" for Approaching Proficiency (80 to 84 percent), "P" for Proficient (85 to 89 percent), while "A" stands for Advanced (90 percent and above).
"Sa unang linggo pa lang ng klase, bistado na, bigo ang pamahalaan at ang DepEd sa ipinipilit nilang ipatupad na ambisyosong programang K to 12," said TDC national chairperson Benjo Basas.
TDC added that the failure of the government, particularly DepEd, to implement the K to 12 is evident by the flooded schools, and shortage of classrooms, which resulted to overcrowding of students in one room, and students in makeshift classrooms such as covered court, under the tree, and use of the stage.
Basas said the TDC based its rating on the problems that surfaced during the first week of classes, which include the shortage of teachers, seats, classrooms, toilets, and other facilities.
The group also pointed out that instructional materials for the K to 12 curriculum that will be in taught in Grade 1, and Grade 7 (first year junior high school) are not readily available.
"And the worst, is the government's disregard to the welfare of teachers when it hired the kinder teachers in contractual terms and will be paid P3,000 monthly for the special job," he said.
Basas also criticized the K to 12 saying that the quality of education in the country is poor not because the basic education cycle is only 10 years but because of these perennial problems.
"At kung ipipilit natin ang pandaigdigang batayan sa haba ng pag-aaral, dapat din nating tuparin ang pandaigdigang batayan sa paglalaan ng gugulin - six percent ng ating GNP ang dapat ibigay sa sektor ng edukasyon," he added.
The TDC, however, still reiterated the support of its teacher-members to attain quality education in the country.
"Ang mga guro ay handang magsakripisyo. Handa kaming tumulong. Sana man lang ay huwag ihuli sa prayoridad at sa anumang programa sa edukasyon ang kapakanan ng mga guro at ang kalidad ng aming pagtuturo," Basas explained.
The group once challenged the government and DepEd to consider postponement of the program, and call for a wider dialogue, information dissemination or even national debate.
Basas said the government should address first the shortage in basic inputs before implementing an ambitious program such as the K to 12 "para sa bandang huli, ang sinasabing solusyon ay hindi magiging konsumisyon."
On the other hand, while the implementation of the Senior High School as part of the K to 12 Basic Education Program will officially kick off four years from now, some students are already set to undergo the additional two years as early as this school year.
A total of 57 senior high school students will be the first batch to undergo the Senior High School Program at the Pinagtongulan National High School in Lipa City, Batangas, after the Lipa Coffee Academy was launched on Friday.
It will be a special program for senior high school starting SY 2012-2013 (Grade 11), and 2013-2014 (Grade 12).
According to Education Secretary Armin Luistro, in relation to the K to 12 basic education program of the DepEd, the Division of Lipa City will pilot the Lipa Coffee Academy to produce graduates who have life-long knowledge and skills in coffee technology.
"It will be a special program for senior high school under the K to 12 that aims to produce graduates who can help revive the local coffee industry," he said.
Luistro explained that the curriculum under the K to 12 was designed to make it adapt to local employment and industry needs.
"The academy is envisioned to produce students who have the technical know-how on research, cultivation, and production of the famous Batangas coffee," he added.
The DepEd chief also reiterated that the K to 12 basic education program was crafted to produce graduates who are equipped with knowledge and skills to prepare them for the world of work or college education.
"Senior high school or Grade 11 and Grade 12 will be devoted to the honing of students' skills in their preferred industry or line of work," he said.
Luistro explained that some of the subjects to be taught under the special curriculum include basic research method, project feasibility study, coffee nursery management and practices, as well as entrepreneurial development.
"Using education as one of the tools to revive the industry, we want our youth to take part in bringing back the glory days of coffee in Batangas," he added.
Coffee, which was first introduced in 1740 in Pinagtongulan, Lipa, Batangas, by a Franciscan monk, thrived in the towns of Ibaan, Lemery, San Jose, Taal, Tanauan, and Lipa, earning for it the title of Coffee Capital of the Philippines.
In 1860, Lipa started exporting "Kapeng Barako" to San Francisco, California in the United States.
When the Suez Canal was opened, a new market was opened as well in Europe.
At the height of its popularity, the Kapeng Barako commands five times the price of other Asian coffee beans.
In 1889, however, coffee rust and insect infestation affected all the coffee trees, which forced many farmers to shift to other crops.
It did not cause the total collapse of the industry but the planting area was greatly reduced and the industry suffered heavily.
Luistro hopes that the famous "Kapeng Barako" of Batangas that suffered from coffee rust, which caused its decline many decades ago, will be "served hot again when coffee growing technology is taught to senior high school students under the K to 12 basic education reform program."