Senators warned vs approving K+12

WORKERS led by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno joined a protest this morning in front of the Senate to call on senators to junk a bill that will legislate the implementation of the K+12 program in basic education, saying the program will condemn the country’s youth to cheap and contractual labor.

KMU said the K+12 program, which will increase secondary education by two years and infuse the additional years with technical-vocational subjects, together with the government’s decreasing subsidy to tertiary education, will force students to work immediately upon graduation from high school.

Senate Bill 3286, also known as the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2012 or the K+12 Bill, was passed by the Senate on second reading last Dec. 18, with chief sponsor Sen. Edgardo Angara claiming that no senator opposed the measure.

“The K+12 program must be seen within the context of the country’s educational and economic system. It will force the youth into cheap and contractual employment after they graduate from high school,” said Lito Ustarez, KMU vice-chairperson.

“With the K+12 program, the government is trying to make it easy for students and their parents to decide that high school graduates go directly to work. And we know what kind of work is available for high school graduates in the country – cheap and contractual ones,” he said.

KMU said the government has been reducing subsidy to tertiary education, causing fees to rise unabatedly. It also said that high school graduates under K+12 will be legally eligible for work and have already studied technical-vocational subjects in high school.

In this situation, the labor center said, students will be forced to forego studying in college and to plunge directly into the ranks of those seeking work.

“It is also not true that the K+12 program, because it will allegedly improve education in the country, will make it easier for the youth to find work. While it will offer a bigger pool of cheap and contractual labor to big capitalists, and therefore help them increase their profits, this program will not necessarily mean that the number jobs in the country will increase,” Ustarez said.

“The government has been trying to attract foreign investors through various means since time immemorial in order to generate jobs. Foreign investors, especially under the current global crisis, will not necessarily pour into the country just because we are offering more cheap and contractual labor,” he added.

“The Aquino government has in fact pressed down workers’ wages and attacked job security but still fails to reduce unemployment. You do not create jobs by merely changing educational policies; you generate jobs by changing basic economic policies,” he said.

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