ROCO: 5-YEAR HIGH SCHOOL LOGISTICS A NIGHTMARE

MANILA, March 25, 2004
 
(MALAYA)
By WENDELL VIGILIA - Why add another year to high school when dropouts can run for president?

This was Raul Roco's tongue-in-cheek reaction yesterday to the Deparment of Education's decision to implement its Pre-Secondary Bridge Program starting June.

Under the program, elementary school graduates who are week in English, Sciences and Mathematics will spend a year on these subject before they can enter first year high school.

Seriously, Roco said while there might be a need to add another year to high school, the logistics required are staggering.

Roco said the program will mean adding 25 percent to the current 200,000 public high school teachers and the same proportion of classrooms and textbooks.

Roco, a former education secretary, said the idea of adding another year in high school was first broached by Education Secretary Edilberto De Jesus when the latter was his undersecretary and president of Far Eastern University.

"Why shift the burden to the public when (private) colleges and universities, can, by their own academic freedom, cure the problems?" he said.

Through the bridge program, the DepEd hopes to arrest the trend of a poor showing by public school graduates.

Diagnostics tests the past two years showed that seven out of 10 incoming public school freshmen hhave not mastered elementary English, Science and Mathematics.

DepEd officials say 50 to 70 percent of incoming freshmen this school year may have to go through the five-year curriculum.

The program has been on the drawing board since 2002.

Segregation of elementary school graduation will be done through the High School Readiness Test, to be given on May 24.

DepEd officials said most countries in Southeast Asia have a basic education program that takes 12 years.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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