A group of education workers has reiterated the need to overhaul the country’s education system, with a special focus on the K to 12 Program, especially amidst the low employability rate of its graduates.

“There is no point in continuing a program that not a single study has found to be effective,” said the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) in a statement.

ACT Chairperson Vladimer Quetua lamented that the K to 12 program only aims to make the Philippines competitive against underdeveloped countries in producing a steady stream of the semi-skilled labor force for foreign capital.

“These jobs are largely contractual in nature and the lowest paying in different industries,” he added.

ACT issued the statement following the directive of President Marcos, Jr. to integrate skills training into the K to 12 curriculum to increase the employability of Senior High School (SHS) graduates.

In the 2022 Labor Force survey conducted by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), it was noted that only a small proportion of SHS graduates (a little over 20 percent) were able to enter the labor force. The majority (more than 70 percent) opted to continue with their education.

Wake-up call

For ACT, any reform to the K to 12 curriculum will only “replicate failures as the program is not designed to bolster a genuine national development program and only aims to produce cheap and docile labor force for foreign employers that is bound to be underpaid, contractual or unemployed.”

Citing the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Quetua said that the “starkly low employment rate of our K to 12 graduates and attrition rate of those employed is high.”

He added that the majority of the annual K to 12 graduates only contribute to the huge number of unemployed or are employed temporarily as contract workers who are paid wages below livable levels.

“This should serve as a wake-up call to redesign our education system towards supporting national development and aligning our economic program towards developing local production to create more jobs,” Quetua said.

Moreover, Quetua pointed out that the practicum component for skills development, which would be added to the subjects based on available resources in particular areas and regions, is 'equally disheartening.'

“This only implies that the government has no plans to address the needs, particularly in far-flung areas, and allocate the necessary budget to capacitate schools in implementing the program,” Quetua said.

Given this, ACT reiterated that the whole education system needs to be "overhauled" to serve the aspirations of Filipinos for national development, agricultural advancement, and the establishment of national industries.

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