Philippine Standard Time:

In a collaborative effort to address the effects of the implementation of the K to 12 Basic Education Program particularly on the teaching and non-teaching personnel in the tertiary level, more than 100 participants representing the employees, management and government sectors in the education industry in Regions 6, 7 and 8 engaged in an interactive consultation conducted by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) through the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) on 27 February 2013 at the Sarrosa International Hotel and Residential Suites, Cebu City, leading to the adoption and signing of a resolution.

“DOLE has the mandate for employment facilitation hence its involvement in the inter-agency forum, which is much needed in response to the issue of displacement”, explained Dir. Ma. Gloria A. Tango, DOLE Regional Office 7 in her opening remarks.

The Visayas-wide forum labelled as the “Education Tripartite Forum on K to 12”, which was the second of a three-leg area-wide consultation, with its precursor in Luzon last 14 November 2012 and its following in Mindanao on 22 March 2013, aimed to engage the stakeholders through tripartism and social dialogue in the generation of recommendations and solutions to the impact of the K to 12 Program to the education sector.

“In this undertaking, the objective is not only to give workers and employers the opportunity to be heard but also give meaning to their voices,” Undersecretary Rebecca C. Chato emphasized in her keynote message. “There are many aspects of the K to 12 program, but the Department’s concern is focused more on the formulation of interventions for teaching and non-teaching personnel to be affected,” continued Usec. Chato. These transition assistance may be in the form of study grants, licensing facilitation services, financial assistance, accreditation requirements, and technical and administrative adjustments arising.

Being an inter-agency initiative, resource persons were invited representing the concerned government agencies namely Dr. Caridad Labe, Asst. Regional Dir of the Department of Education (DepEd) Region 7, Dr. Sinforoso Birung, Director of the Office of Programs and Standards of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Atty. Joseph Noel Estrada, Executive Director of the Coordinating Council of Private Education Associations (COCOPEA). They presented the implications and recommendations relative to the K to 12 Program implementation and served as a panel that responded to queries raised by industry stakeholders during the open forum. Serving as the highlight and significant accomplishment of the event was the adoption and signing of a resolution which reflected the issues and recommendations from the discussions of the participants during the forum.

The Education Tripartite Forum on K to 12 Resolution No. 1, “Calling DOLE, DepEd, CHED and TESDA to Develop Safety Nets or Transition Interventions for the Working Populace in the Education Sector as a Component of the K to 12 Basic Education Program Implementation”, urges the concerned government agencies to set in place safety nets to address the imminent concerns relative to the displacement or dislocation of first-year college professors and non-teaching personnel.

These concerns upon which government transition measures will be directed included the qualification process to be used for certifying teachers in regular secondary schools and higher education professors to teach in Senior High School, implementation of Grades 11 and 12, criteria and process for granting separation pay, adoption of industry-level livelihood programs under the DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP) for the would-be displaced teachers during the full implementation of the Program, and utilization of Social Security System (SSS) retirement funds in the form of cash advances for the affected teachers, among others.

In his closing remarks, Atty. Romeo Montefalco, Jr., OIC-Director of BLR, assured the body that their concerns, suggestions and inputs were heard loud and clear.

“Your recommendations would help us in crafting interventions on the unavoidable consequences or negative impact of the Program”, said Atty. Montefalco. He likewise emphasized that the recommendations would help the government agencies in crafting the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Enhanced Basic Education Act institutionalizing the K to 12 Program, which will soon be signed into law by the President.