Resolutely oppose the K-12 Program!

Information Bureau
Communist Party of the Philippines
June 6, 2012

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) calls on the Filipino people, especially the workers, the Filipino youth and students, their parents, the teachers' sector and the academe to resolutely oppose the K-12 Program of the US-Aquino regime. The K-12 Program which the Department of Education (DepEd) started to implement this year primarily seeks to further pull down the wages of Filipino workers by reengineering the Philippine educational system to churn out more semi-skilled graduates in a shorter cycle and introducing younger workers into the already wide ocean of unemployed workers.

The K-12 Program is being carried out alongside the anti-progress neoliberal policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and implemented by the US-Aquino regime. The K-12 serves the Aquino regime's thrust to push Filipino workers to become overseas contract workers as its narrow-minded solution to the grave problem of domestic unemployment. It is an effort to comply with the Bologna Accords of the European Union and the US' Washington Accords requiring overseas workers to have completed a 12-year basic educational cycle.

In requiring an additional two years of high school education devoted to "specialized" vocational and technical education, the US-Aquino regime seeks to have the Filipino youth graduate and exit the educational system as 18 year olds--the age at which they can legally enter into a labor contract. The "specialized" training will focus on the needs of the international labor market. This will follow the pattern of the government's Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) that currently trains its students in bartending, cooking, welding, wiring, dressmaking and other vocational skills.

The K-12 Program, particularly its additional two years of high school, is nothing but an expanded TESDA program to train students for skills needed for overseas employment. The US-Aquino regime stupidly ignores the lessons of the past years when the reactionary Philippine government encouraged the school system to churn out a mass of nurses and caregivers in the early 2000s for overseas work only to face the sharp decline in demand after several years. Today, there are tens of thousands of nursing graduates who are unemployed or are working in a completely different field of employment.

By graduating the Filipino youth from the education system to the labor pool at a younger age, the US-Aquino regime seeks to make Filipino labor ever cheaper. Lowering the value of Filipino labor through the K-12 Program is achieved by more rapidly filling in the ocean of unemployed workers and by bringing down the age of the employable pool. The greater the number of younger people seeking employment, the more wages are pulled down as more and more workers with as yet no dependents are made to compete for scarce jobs.

The K-12 Program is Aquino's response to the growing competition of backward, agrarian and non-industrial countries for foreign investments. By implementing the K-12 Program, the US-Aquino regime hopes to bring wages of Filipino workers to levels lower than that of or at par with those of Vietnam, Thailand and other semicolonial countries whose economies could only create employment through foreign investments and the export of labor.

The K-12 Program is being touted as the solution to the poor quality of Philippine education. This is a poor attempt to cover up the more glaring fact that low quality of education is a result of the grave insufficiency of funds allocated by the Aquino regime. Even without the K-12 Program, the US-Aquino regime's allocation for education could not even address the widespread lack of teachers, classrooms, seats and other facilities.

The K-12 Program continues the pro-imperialist content of the Philippine educational system as first designed by the American Thomasites of the early 1900s and most recently reinforced by the Education Act of 1982. The K-12 Program touts itself as being progressive in terms of adapting the policy of using the lingua franca in the early years of education. However, the K-12 continues the anti-patriotic, anti-scientific and anti-democratic orientation of the educational system. It seeks to deprive the Filipino youth of a historic appreciation of the Filipino people's anti-colonial and national struggles and teach them that there is no other recourse for the Philippines but to toe the line of imperialist globalization by serving as cheap labor cogs for the foreign capitalist machine.

Further on, by implementing the K-12 Program, the US-Aquino regime hopes to further advance its policy of abandoning tertiary education. By promoting the additional two-year senior high school program, the Aquino regime seeks to portray tertiary education as non-essential and thus justify the complete cut off of state support for colleges and universities or the limited support for specific specialized programs. It thus could further cut social spending or nominally maintain budgetary allocations for education at current levels but significantly reduce its coverage to elementary and secondary education. The K-12 would ultimately lead to the further privatization of education and higher tuition rates.

In the face of the grave socio-economic crisis of the ruling semicolonial and semifeudal system, the US-Aquino regime is carrying-out antipeople measures such as the K-12 Program with desperate haste. Despite the absence of an enabling law by the reactionary congress for the K-12 Program, and even without prior budgetary allocations, the Aquino regime through its DepEd has started to implement the K-12 Program resulting in problems left and right. All these show that the K-12 Program is bound to fail.

The Filipino people must resolutely oppose the K-12 Program. They stand on just grounds in opposing it because it will only bring additional burdens to the Filipino youth and their parents. They are also justified in opposing the K-12 because the Aquino regime is implementing it without enough preparation nor budgetary support.

More important, however, they must oppose the K-12 Program because it will subject the Filipino youth and workers to greater oppression and exploitation by foreign big capitalist enterprises and because it serves the antipeople, neoliberal, anti-progress socio-economic program of the US-Aquino regime.

The Filipino youth and people must oppose the K-12 Program and assert the need for a nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented educational system. They should fight for greater public spending on education and other necessary social services. They should push for land reform and national industrialization as key elements in a program for national progress and development and struggle for an educational system that will serve the Filipino people's aspirations for national and social liberation.