By Reynard Magtoto
To youth group Anakbayan, high school dropouts and tuition hikes under K-12 program mark Duterte regime’s adherence to anti-poor neoliberal economics that further commercializes education.
Anakbayan decried what it called the burdensome K-12 program for resulting to 2.49 million high school dropouts on its first year of full implementation and tuition hikes in 1,013 elementary and high schools.
“This means more hardships for students and their families amidst perennially low wages, persistence of contractualization, and rising cost of basic goods and services,” said Anakbayan National Chairperson Vencer Crisostomo.
According to Crisostomo, the continuation of neoliberal policies of deregulation of education by Duterte allows the continued collection of fees, which has already soared to an average of P60,000-80,000 from P30,000-60,000 a year in 2010 thus jacking up profits of big capitalists in education.
Comparing DepEd’s own data on the 3.9 million projected Grade 10 graduates for school year 2015-2016 with the actual number of Grade 11 enrollees for school year 2016-2017 of 1.41 million, 2.49 million high school students have become dropouts.
“According to DepEd, 3.9 million Grade 10 students graduated last school year 2015-2016. However, only 1.41 million enrolled for Grade 11 for school year 2016-2017. This means there are 2.49 million more dropouts who were forced to stop their studies. They could have been graduates but now they are just high school dropouts,” said Anakbayan National Secretary General Einstein Recedes.
Anakbayan also hit the way the K-12 program has facilitated big capitalists in the private sector profiting from state subsidies through the voucher system from the implementation of the Senior High School (SHS) program.
Based on the data of League of Filipino Students, STI Computer College earned P1,219,562,500 from the first year of implementation of SHS, with P825,550,000 coming from the government’s voucher system.
According to the youth group, the program exacerbates the foreign-investment and import-dependent and export-oriented character of the Philippine economy.
They call for the junking of the Education Act of 1982 and the Expanded Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education, or GASTPE which legitimized the deregulated collection of tuition and other school fees and provision of state subsidies for private schools. (BaretangBikolnon.com)