MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) placed the cost of establishing the two-year senior high school needed for their ambitious K (Kindergarten) to 12 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) reform program at a maximum P57 billion by school year 2017-2018.
DepEd Undersecretary for Finance and Administration Francis Varela, admitted that while the cost may be huge, the benefits to be given by the 12 year BEC where a two-year senior high school will be added to the current 10-year BEC with only six years of elementary school and four years of high school, will also be tremendous.
“The benefits of K to 12 will outweigh the huge costs,” Varela said in his presentation of the updates of DepEd on the financial costs of the program at the National Basic Education Summit on K to 12 organized by the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) held at the Marian Auditorium in the Miriam College campus along Katipunan Avenue, in Quezon City yesterday morning.
Varela said that in their projections, the initial cost of setting up the infrastructure and the logistical requirements of the first year of the two-year senior high by school year 2016 to 2017 will range from P38.8 billion to P42.7 billion.
This will go up to a range of P51 billion to P57 billion by the time they set up the infrastructure, logistical and manpower requirements for the second year senior high school by school year 2017 to 2018.
The P51 billion estimate, he said, was for a low student enrollment scenario, while the P57 billion cost projection was for a high student enrollment scenario.
Varela said that the DepEd was now looking at government taking the lead in setting up the required classrooms, hiring the teachers, and procuring the school chairs and other learning tools, with private schools being allowed to “participate” if they want to.
“The senior high schools will be publicly provided,” Varela told the STAR in an interview. “Government will put up the senior high schools, and hire the teachers.”
With the current DepEd leading the effort, Varela said they can have a closer watch on the costs instead of just letting private schools take the lead in setting up the senior high schools.
“But definitely, it will be a combination of both ’cause I don’t think the requirement can be fully met by the private sector,” Varela said.
It will be recalled that a number of educators, notably former DepEd Secretary Mona Valisno, had earlier proposed letting private schools take charge of setting up the senior high schools for public school children that will have to undergo the senior high school level with the government paying private schools for each student at a cost of P15,000 each.
Varela said that the scheme in which private schools will be allowed to participate in the program will still have to be formulated.
“Of course that’s also dependent on what kind of arrangements that will be attractive enough for the private schools,” Varela noted.
Varela stressed that the maximum P57 billion cost they were projecting for the senior high schools that will have to be set up for K to 12 did not make it an especially huge allocation for education by a government, considering that other countries, especially the Philippines’ neighbors in the Asian region and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) was spending more for education.
“This (P57 billion spending) would just bring us to the area of 3 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) which we always say is something that we used to spend for education many years earlier,” Varela said.
“If you look at it (education spending) as a percentage of the GDP, it’s actually the capacity of government, DepEd appropriate spending levels. Other countries spend 4 to 5 percent levels to their GDP,” Varela said.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro, who said that the two-year senior high school will be heavy in technical-vocational education and training.