A SENATOR on Tuesday asked the government to suspend its K to 12 program, which he said has failed to improve the Philippines’ education quality in the absence of funds.

“Either suspend the K to 12 for five to 10 years until we have enough resources, or fund it now as it was envisioned,” Senator Alan Peter S. Cayetano said in a statement.

The program should focus on improving the youth’s quality of education, he said, adding that it’s not enough to just add two years of schooling.

The bottom line for most parents is not the technicalities of the program but how the children will benefit from it, he added.

The K-12 curriculum covers mandatory kindergarten, six years of primary education, four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school.   

A tutoring service in October reported gaps in student skills and their grade level. said it found a two- to three-year learning gap in both literacy and number skills across all grade levels. For reading, the learning gaps were more prominent in emerging readers. Nine of 10 5th and 6th graders were not proficient in reading.

The Philippines’ learning poverty was among the highest in the region, with nine of 10 Filipinos unable to read and understand short, age-appropriate texts by the age of 10, according to the World Bank. It added that 5% of children who should be in primary school were not enrolled.

The promise was to make graduates employable even without college education, Mr. Cayetano said, while those heading to higher education would complete their degree in a shorter period.

The Department of Education promised that after senior high, students could be employed, he said

While the K to 12 program promised to boost employability among senior high school graduates, only a little over 20% were able to enter the labor force, while 70% continued with their education, according to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan