MANILA, Philippines - An association of private schools in the country yesterday urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to "leave kindergarten education to them," claiming that they are more capable of providing higher quality of kindergarten education, citing better facilities and highly-trained teachers.
The Federation of Associations of Private Schools and Administrators (FAPSA), with 9,995-member-schools, "volunteered" to accept toddlers from public schools this coming school year 2012-2013 to "relieve the DepEd the burden of great expenditures," espe¬cially with the effectivity of Republic Act 10157 or Universal Kindergarten Law.
FAPSA President Eleazardo Kasilag reminded the DepEd about the quality of kinder education that incoming pupils may be getting. "We are the experts here," Kasilag claimed. "We are into it since time immemorial; public school teachers may do it for only the first time."
Kasilag also claimed that all FAP¬SA member-schools in the country have pre-school department but what they lack are enough pupils. "Private schools have the buildings, all the needed classrooms, facilities, textbooks, teachers, and teachers' expertise. It would be us who shall monitor and evaluate pre-schools," he said.
Meanwhile, Education Secretary Armin Luistro said he remains hopeful that the implementation of the Univer¬sal Kindergarten Program (UKP) - which started in school year 2011-2012 - will be smoother this year.
Luistro said that while the UKP was implemented only last school year - which mandated five-year-old chil¬dren to enroll and give them proper preparation on the rigors of formal schooling -the Education department has started the kindergarten program more than 40 years ago. "Shortages in resources such as qualified pre-school teachers as well as lack of facilities may have hampered the development of the program," he said in an earlier interview.
With the passage of the Universal Kindergarten Law earlier this year, Luistro is optimistic that there will be more improvement in the coun¬try's kindergarten education through construction of more buildings for classrooms as well as more training for teachers.
Based on data from DepEd, there is an eight percent gap in the number of preschool age children enrolled in the kindergarten program this com¬ing year - 1.7 million in public schools and 0.35 million in private schools compared to last year's 2.5 million in both institutions.
However, Luistro remained hope¬ful that the gap will be closed this com¬ing school year based on the increase in participation rate from 2010's 1.65 million or 75.72 percent to last year's 2.5 million or 91.67 percent.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Tuesday announced a $1.8-billion military upgrade to help defend his country's maritime territory against "bullies", amid an ever-worsening dispute with China.