For the education sector, Aquino will always be remembered for the K-12 program

MANILA, Philippines – Former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III has been recalled by his Education Secretary for major reforms in schools, including his promotion of the K-12 curriculum which, according to a group of teachers, is a burden on stakeholders.

Aquino, whose death on June 24 shocked the nation, was the president who called for two more years – now called high school – into the basic education system.

He signed the Improved Basic Education Act in 2013, with the first group of high school students seen two years later. The measure was the subject of applications to the Supreme Court, but the court upheld the law in 2018.

Boyfriend. Armin Luistro, education secretary under the Aquino administration, said in an exchange he sees Aquino as the president of Filipino education for overseeing significant changes in the sector.

“Very few people realize that during his tenure the biggest educational reform we have not been able to do in decades [was] enacted and it is K-12, “he said,” with all the political difficulties as well as the challenges.

Luistro also touted the gains under the previous administration, which he said included building some 120,000 classrooms to address backlogs and hiring more than 195,000 teachers.

He owed this to a political will that Aquino displayed over his six years, allowing him to seek greater funding for the Department of Education from Congress.

“But you know, President Noynoy never wanted all of these things to be attributed to him,” Luistro said. “It’s people’s money … these are very real accomplishments and not statements of motherhood.”

According to official figures, the allocation for DepEd in annual government expenditure was: 9 billion in 2016.

Insufficient funding for education

Despite the agency’s annual budget hike, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers said low funding remained an issue during Aquino’s presidency.

ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said allocations were still lower than UNICEF’s call for 20% of the national budget to the education sector, or 6% of the country’s gross domestic product.

“President Aquino did not see the real problem behind the decline in the quality of education,” he added in an exchange. “He just changed the program but failed to solve the primary and most basic problems.”

Basilio said there was still a lack of schools, facilities and teaching staff which led to overcrowded classrooms. This, he said, was made worse by the extra years of school that the Aquino administration put in place.

RELATED: K-12 not to blame for Pinoys’ poor test result – DepEd

“His legacy is negative,” he said in Filipino of the former president. “It will not be forgotten because of Kindergarten to Grade 12. It was just an added burden on students, teachers and parents and only worsened the brain drain and reduced the quality. education in the country. “

The National Union of Students of the Philippines expressed condolences to Aquino’s family and supporters, but said the failures of previous administrations should not go unnoticed.

“As the nation mourns his death, we also mourn all the victims of the atrocities and failures that were committed under his leadership,” the group said, “the deteriorated education system and the violent dispersal of mass actions, assemblies public meetings and rallies. “

The Duterte administration announced in February 2020 a review of the K-12 curriculum in response to the results of the 2018 program for the international assessment of students, where the Philippines scored low.

The Palace then said that the Philippines’ participation in the study was aimed “at establishing a baseline for measuring educational development in the Philippines against global standards.”

Accept criticism

The former education chief was aware of criticisms of policies under Aquino’s tenure, recalling rallies outside his office almost every week.

Luistro, when asked what prompted the president to adopt changes like Kindergarten to Grade 12, said, “He truly believed education is the foundation of a good nation. [the] access to quality education. “

Basilio acknowledged that the previous leadership of DepEd was more willing to hold dialogues on the issues.

“They allowed us to speak, but our issues and concerns about pay, workload and benefits went unanswered,” he said. “[They] were much better than the current one, where we are not allowed to speak. “

The K-12 program, like many government programs of this time, was the subject of critical media coverage, a fact the former president sometimes mentioned in speeches.

“He was obviously not happy with all the media reports,” he said, partly in Filipino. “But what he would tell us is that sometimes it’s the media’s job to find the wrongs and it’s our job then to say what’s right.”

Aquino as boss

Within the cabinet, Luistro said the president was “very picky” and tended to sift through reports, even requesting copies in advance.

It is a memory shared by the many people who worked with Aquino following the news of his passing at the age of 61. There had been changes in department secretaries, but Luistro was among those who had been with the president from day one until his resignation.

He described Aquino’s passing as painful for two reasons: He knew the former boss was already ill but didn’t expect him to leave so soon, and they saw him keep silent despite the things that were thrown to him after his tenure.

“At the very least, it deserves our gratitude,” said Luistro. “He said ‘let our works speak for themselves’ and I hope the work we now see in government during his tenure will be recognized by our people.”

On Friday, there will be a one-day public display of Aquino’s urn at the Gesu Church at Ateneo University in Manila.

By his family, the remains of the former president will rest at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque on June 26. She will be alongside her parents Ninoy and Cory, who were known democracy icons.

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