I had been always a strong supporter for education as a change agent but adding 2 more years in the current high school education in the Philippines will stretch further the limited resources available in this area. This article tells us more of the challenges involved.
How can private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) cope with the transition phase of the K to 12 program? I am referring to the years when students will be staying in Grades 11 and 12 instead of entering college. This two-year gap in enrolment will surely mean the collapse of several private HEIs, since these HEIs depend completely on tuition income.
In fact, we are not dealing only with two years. In the year when the first batch of Grade 11 students will be in Grade 12, there will be no college freshmen, but there will also not be sophomores (since there were no freshmen the previous year). Even when the first batch of Grade 12 graduates get to college, there will still be a two-year gap, because there will be no third-year students (since there were no sophomores the previous year). This two-year gap will continue until the first batch of Grade 12 graduates get to their fourth year in a typical four-year college course; if the college course takes five years or longer, the gap will continue even longer.
The K to 12 Steering Committee, which includes both DepEd and CHED, has come up with three transition plans for private HEIs.
The first plan is for private HEIs to handle Senior High School (Grades 11 and 12) completely, using their own classrooms and teachers. This solves the problem of the gap, because there will always be enrollees in the HEI. These enrollees will just not be called college students but high school students.
Since no human plan is ever perfect, this plan has its problems. For example, the teachers have to have licenses, because they will now be teaching high school rather than college subjects, even if the subjects are almost exactly the same. (Most of the subjects in the proposed Senior High School curriculum come from the college General Education Curriculum.)
Another problem is the salary scale of the college teachers that will teach high school subjects. Many college teachers are paid by the hour, but there are a lot more hours in high school than in college. For example, the subject called “The Literatures of the Philippines” is taught for 54 hours in college, but will be taught for 90 hours in Grade 12. This might be a good financial incentive for college teachers to move to high school, but administrators will faint at the idea of keeping the hourly rates required by faculty unions.
A third problem has to do with students, who have to move from their Junior High School (Grades 7 to 10) to another campus for their Senior High School. If an HEI is near a public high school, this problem is minimal, but this might not be true for most HEIs. (The same problem occurs with DepEd’s plan to use private high schools and tech-voc schools, but we are talking only of the problems of HEIs in this column.)
The second plan is for DepEd to lease the facilities of HEIs for Senior High School classes. This is a good solution for HEIs, because they will still have income even if there are no freshmen or sophomore students (or junior or senior students in later years).
Their problem will be their teachers of General Education courses. If DepEd leases the facilities, it will use its own teachers. The HEI teachers will have no loads (subjects to teach) during the gaps. This will lead to tremendous suffering among faculty members, not to mention massive problems with faculty unions.
The third plan is a combination of the first two plans.
A simple combination would be something like this. DepEd will lease the facilities of an HEI, but allow the HEI to field its own college teachers for the Senior High School subjects. There would appear to be a financial sacrifice for the HEI, since DepEd cannot afford to pay the entire salaries of college teachers. Some financial feasibility studies need to be done to show HEIs that this is a win-win solution.
Another combination would be something like this. HEIs can handle Senior High School themselves, but DepEd would pay the tuition of the students, similar to the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) scheme for Grades 1 to 10. This would also entail some financial studies.
The assumption in all these plans, needless to say, is that public school students will not pay tuition, as guaranteed by Art. 14, Sec. 2, of the Constitution. Since private HEIs are unlikely to offer education for free, somebody has to pay the tuition of the public school students in Senior High School. Fortunately, this is not difficult to remedy. The bill that establishes Senior High School (the omnibus bill on K to 12) can easily provide for money for students that will use the resources of private HEIs.
Private HEIs, as well as private high schools, should look at these three plans positively. The government is clearly looking after their welfare, even if the K to 12 program is aimed primarily at public school students. As with other government projects, private-public partnership is crucial to the success of K to 12.
(To be continued)