K to 12 threatens jobs of 85,000 college workers
There is a serious threat to the employment of teachers and staff working in the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) when the full implementation of the K-to-12 program comes two years from now. And more college faculty and non-teaching staff are starting to realize the real implications of what is deemed as the “single most important education reform in the country.”
In 2016, when the Senior High School (SHS) program will take effect, what used to be the graduating students will not proceed to college or any HEI but instead will enter Grade 11. The following year, those students will be in Grade 12. There will be no new freshmen enrollees in HEIs.
No new enrollees would mean loss of income for the HEIs, and possibly, not enough jobs for teachers.
Thus, many private colleges and universities – as early as now – are reportedly “laying off” or offering early retirement to their faculty and support staff to mitigate the financial constraints that the K to 12 would bring.
Based on the estimate by the Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities, “more than 85,000” faculty and non-teaching staff would be affected by the SHS or Grades 11 and 12, since there would be no new freshmen enrollees in HEIs.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro assured that in order to “cushion the effect on personnel who will be affected” by the K to 12, the Department of Education (DepEd) will “work closely” with other concerned agencies including the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and the Department of Labor of Employment (DOLE).
The “Joint Guidelines on the Implementation of the Labor and Management Component of the Republic Act No. 10533 or the “Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013” dated May 30, 2014 had been released by the DepEd, with DOLE, CHEd, and Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA).
The concerned agencies lined up an array of “interventions” to the “would-be affected faculty and non-teaching staff in HEIs. Despite this, it remains inevitable that hundreds – if not thousands – are expected to lose jobs once the SHS is finally rolled out in 2016.
“Nobody saw it coming, not the premature pains of transition because of the K to 12 program of government. “The short of the long story is that we in the Higher Education Institutions [HEIs] are confronted with the scare of zero enrolment of first year students in school years 2016-2017, 2017-2018,” said award-winning poet Dr. Rebecca Añonuevo, who teaches in a prominent women’s college.
Añonuevo explained that both teaching and non-teaching staff in higher education “didn’t expect the self-destructive panic of many a head in the administration of schools.” In at least two women’s colleges in the country, she said that “an early retirement/separation package has been offered to all members of the general education faculty, if not the entire faculty of professional programs.”
EARLY SEPARATION PACKAGE
The “devil” called “fear,” said Añonuevo, seems to be “successful in mocking and insulting the dignity of teachers and the teaching profession as a whole.”
As early as this school year, Añonuevo disclosed that the “devil” in the mandatory early separation program has been “grinning ear to ear” as if urging the would-be affected personnel to “take” the offer. “We are told that we can’t spread the word around about the ‘generous’ offer: Other schools could not afford the same,” she said.
Despite the “hard work and dedicated service of teachers,” Añonuevo lamented that some administrators in leading private schools, “have chosen the convenient exit for us – an early separation package, effective May 2015.”
These administrators have even “reduced us, their teachers, to 110%-120 % of monthly salary per month of service for the separation package, which they are shameless to call mandatory,” she said.
SURGE OF SUPPORT
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said the “retrenchment program” – which is reportedly being done by some HEIs prior to the implementation of SHS, – “is not a solution at all.”
“We sympathize with our fellow educators in the tertiary level,” said ACT Secretary General France Castro. “Aside from the tenured and fulltime faculty members, we are much worried about the situation of the untenured or contractual ones which comprises more than half of the teaching force of HEIs in the country,” she added.
Castro said that the Joint Guidelines issued by DOLE-DepEd-TESDA-CHEd poses more threat to tenure of faculty and support staff because “the owners and administrators of schools under the supervision of HEIs has the right to lay off their faculty members if they deem that they are no longer needed.”