Philippines’ plan to add two years of school rankles, and not just students
In the packed hallways of Batasan Hills, Micaella was known as an obedient student who turned her homework in early and spent afternoons refining her English accent. But now she was helping to lead a political fight. She was devoting nights and weekends to a campaign to block one of the most significant changes to education in the history of the Philippines: a plan to extend the basic education system by two years, creating, for the first time, grades 11 and 12.
The policy, a pillar of President Benigno S. Aquino III’s agenda, was imagined as a way of helping impoverished communities by giving students the skills they need to land high-paying jobs in fields like technology and finance.
But it has inspired a wave of protests and legal challenges. Students worry about a lack of classroom space. Parents say they cannot afford to keep their children out of the work force. University instructors are concerned they will lose their jobs as classes are shifted to high schools.
The policy, which will go into effect in 2016, has prompted a fierce national debate about the government’s role in education and the extent to which it should bow to international standards. In a broader sense, it has provoked tensions between the old, agrarian society and the demands of the modern world.
The Philippines is one of only a handful of countries in the world, and the only one in Asia, that offers fewer than 12 years of basic education.
Source: New York Times