The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is further consolidating its control over the implementation of the K-12 program. This May, the ADB and the Duterte regime signed the Secondary Education Support Program, a $300-million loan agreement which particularly aims to “refine” the K-12 curriculum based on capitalist demands. The ADB is using the loan agreement to impose its recommendations and programs for the implementation of the K-12 program from 2019 to 2023.
Since the enactment of K-12 in 2013 based on the recommendations of the (WB), the ADB and the WB has aggressively directed and controlled its implementation.
The Secondary Education Support Program, is essentially a continuation of the $300-million Senior High School (SHS) Support Program (2014-2020) loan agreement.
The program links loan disbursement to the Philippine government’s compliance with ADB’s pre-identified results. This includes the restructuring of the SHS curriculum, along with the Technical Vocational and Livelihood track, to increase graduates’ marketability in the local and global labor markets.
It targets to increase the study of Mathematics, Science and English to improve the score of SHS students in the National Achievement Test and the national certificate assessment for those taking up technical and vocational courses.
It particularly aims to refine specialization trainings that will equip students with skills on agri-fishery, culinary arts, information technology, welding and maritime services among others. These courses are in demand in Japan, Canada, countries in the Middle East and the US.
In addition, trainings will be conducted for public teachers assigned to teach these specializations.
The loan compels the government to appropriate $1.55 billion in 2019-2023 (from $1.52 in 2014-2019) for the Education Service Contracting and the SHS Voucher System to subsidize the enrollment of students who cannot be accommodated in public schools. The said programs were designed based on the principles of public-private partnership (PPP) in the education sector. The former loan also aimed to gradually increase enrollment in private high schools from 20% in 2012 to 40% this 2019.
In addition, the new loan compels the government to appropriate $2.92 billion for the construction of education facilities—including classrooms, laboratories and workshops—under PPP contracts. This is more than double the $1.42 billion appropriation it required under the earlier loan agreement.
Training using government funds
The new reforms which purportedly aim to enhance the competency of graduates only actually aim to satisfy the demands of foreign corporations to exploit laborers further. Private companies will not even have to spend to train them anymore. At present, only local fast-food companies (including Jollibee and Chowking among others) and local governments hire SHS graduates. Even before the implementation of the SHS program, they already hire 18-year old high school graduates.
The Filipino people, through the budget appropriated for secondary education, will shoulder the training of cheap laborers who will eventually be hired by foreign companies. In the past two years, billions of funds were appropriated for the program. In 2018, more than P7.1 billion was appropriated for the implementation of the program and the construction of public high schools, while P20 billion was appropriated as subsidy for the enrollment of private school students who cannot be accommodated in public schools. A large chunk of the budget for public high schools are allocated for technical-vocational trainings.
This is on top of the more than P100,000/student that is spent by parents for the additional two years of SHS in public schools, and more than P200,000/student in private schools.
Cheap but unmarketable
The first batch of Grade 12 students under the K-12 program graduated in 2018. More than 1.25 million young Filipinos graduated and expected to be immediately hired. Thirty-nine percent of the students graduated under the Technical-Vocational-Livelihood track.
Contrary to the promise of the program, even employers from the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) expressed that they doubt that the graduates are ready for employment.
The PCCI said that an 80-hour work immersion is insufficient to prepare the graduates for employment. Similarly, only two out of ten employers are willing to hire SHS graduates.
At present, two batches of Grade 12 students graduated under the said curriculum. This June, about three million students are expected to enroll in SHS.