Millions of elementary and high school students in the Philippines began classes in the first week of June with the public education system in shambles. There were widespread reports of classroom overcrowding, teacher shortages and a severe lack of textbooks and teaching materials.
The start of classes ushered in the second year of President Benigno S. Aquino Jr.’s much-touted ‘K to 12 Law’ (Republic Act 10533), which has standardized one year of kindergarten across the country and added two years of senior high school, which previously ended at grade 10. College general education courses are being offloaded onto the inbound senior grades of high school. The new curriculum is being rolled out in stages, with full implementation expected by 2016.
Years of underfunding by successive administrations have left the public school system incapable of providing children with a basic education. Aquino, like his predecessors, continues to carry out a socially destructive austerity agenda to meet the demands of international finance capital to cut budget deficits and public debt.
Although the Aquino administration has played up its boosting of education spending to 232 billion pesos ($US5.4 billion), an increase of 44 percent from 2010,