Congress has assured that the “K-to-12” bill or the measure seeking to institutionalize the 12-year basic education cycle would be immediately passed on third and final reading when it buckles down to work next month.
Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr., one of the principal authors of the House Bill 6643, expressed the 284-man Lower Chamber’s readiness to pass the bill on third and final reading before Congress goes on Christmas break, which starts on Dec. 21 despite the strong opposition of party-list groups from the Makabayan bloc of the House.
“We will prioritize its final approval. Before our Christmas break, it will be approved,” Belmonte said.
During Wednesday night’s plenary session, the House, voting viva voce, approved on second reading HB 6643 or the Revised Basic Education Reform Act of 2013, which adds two more years to 10-year basic education.
The approval was made one week after the House committee on basic education and culture nodded to the proposed Act, which was certified as urgent by President Benigno S. Aquino III.
ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio and Gabriela party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan criticized the approval of HB 6643, maintaining that the government is not ready to implement the program given the budget constraints and the existing shortages in classrooms and teachers.
“For the K-to-12 reform program to significantly improve the quality of basic education, it must first solve existing shortages. Sadly, there is no indication anywhere in the bill of the intention to do so,” Tinio said.
Ilagan said that the government has “insufficient” funds to ensure the full-blown implementation of the program.
She said under 2013 proposed national budget, the government only allocated R292 billion, which is R42 billion short of what the Department of Education (DepEd) needs to properly implement the K-to-12 program.
Under the bill, the DepEd and private institutions shall hire graduates of technical-vocational courses to teach in their specialized subjects in the secondary education, provided that these graduates possess the necessary certification issued by TESDA and they undergo appropriate in-service trainings to be administered by the DepEd.
HB 6643 also provides that the faculty of the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) shall be allowed to teach general education subjects in the secondary education, provided that the faculty must be a holder of relevant Masters Degree and they pass the Licensure Exam for teachers within five years after their date of hiring.
The measure also allows the faculty members of HEIs to teach students of secondary education and will be given priority in hiring for the duration of the transition period, which will be reckoned from the date of the effectivity of this Act until the end of the School Year 2017 to 2018.
By CHARISSA M. LUCI