Investing in the Future: Implementing Rules of the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013

Not long after the passage of the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, the Implementing Rules and Regulations (“IRR”) of this law was issued on September 4, 2013 through the joint efforts of the Department of Education (“DepEd”), the Commission on Higher Education (“CHED”) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (“TESDA”).  The IRR applies to the following educational institutions: (1) Higher Education Institutions (“HEIs”); (2) Technical-Vocational Institutions (“TVIs”); (3) Teacher Education Institutions (“TEIs”); (4) foundations; and (5) all public and private basic educational institutions and learning centers.

Enhanced Curriculum for Basic Education

Premised on the need for an educational reform to produce globally competitive Filipino graduates, every parent, guardian or person having custody of a child is mandated to enroll such child in basic education which covers kindergarten, elementary and secondary education.    Alternative learning systems for out-of-school students and those with special needs are also considered in the IRR as part of the basic education program.  This is somehow similar to the prior educational system providing for a Specialized Educational Service for differently-abled students and for out-of-school youth and adults.  Unlike the previous Education Act (BP Blg. 232), however, the IRR of the Enhanced Basic Education Act enumerated the following programs to address the physical, intellectual, psychosocial and cultural needs of students:

(1)   Programs for the gifted and talented students in all levels of basic education;

(2)   Programs for students with disabilities;

(3)   Madrasah Program, or a program for Muslim students in public and private schools;

(4)   Indigenous Peoples Education Program;

(5)   Programs for students under difficult circumstances such as, geographic isolation, chronic illness, displacement; child abuse and child labor practices.

In this regard, alternative learning system coordinators, instructional managers, mobile teachers and learning facilitators must undergo training programs to fully equip them with sufficient capability to implement these programs.

Prospects beyond Graduation

As stated in the policy of the Enhanced Basic Education Act, the goals of high school education must include college preparation, vocational and technical career opportunities and other forms of employment.  As such, authorized private educational institutions that are permitted to offer senior high school are also given the authority to provide relevant specializations to its senior high school students.

The IRR also recognizes the necessity for career advocacy activities to assist secondary level students in making decisions on the appropriate career path.  These activities may be conducted by career advocates and peer facilitators.  Career advocates refer to unregistered or unlicensed guidance counselors, whereas peer facilitators refer to secondary level students who are trained to assist the career advocates in career advocacy activities.

Mitigating the Cost

One of the primary arguments against the Enhanced Basic Education Act is the added expense which the parents are forced to bear in enrolling their children to an additional two years of high school education.  Taking into consideration the financial constraints of most Filipino families, the IRR provides that the DepEd must develop a program of assistance pursuant to the Expanded Government Assistance for Students and Teachers in Private Education (“E-GASTPE”) Act.  This program must be implemented no later than the start of the school year 2016-2017 which gives the DepEd more than two years to formulate a program of assistance.

Aside from the forms of assistance in the E-GASTPE Act, the DepEd may also utilize a voucher system, Education Service Contracting, management contracts and other forms of financial arrangements consistent with the principles of public-private partnership.   The program of assistance primarily mandated by the IRR is available to qualified senior high school students who completed junior high school in either public or private schools.  However, the DepEd is not precluded from developing similar programs of assistance for kindergarten and elementary students, as well as alternative learning system students.

Transitioning to the Enhanced Basic Education System

Significantly, the IRR does not provide for the exact manner by which the existing education program will be transitioned to the enhanced basic education program.  It merely provides that the DepEd, CHED and TESDA must formulate the appropriate strategies and mechanisms to ensure its smooth transition.

Supporters of, and dissenters, to the Enhanced Basic Education Act have much to say about the benefits and disadvantages of the proposed program.  In any case, it must always be remembered that no less than the Constitution itself provides that the State has the duty to protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education.  It is about time that the government takes full measures to fulfill this duty. Let’s hope that this new law and the IRR will prove to be the key to the improvement of the quality of education in our country.

(Imee Manguiat and Marychelle T. Mendoza co-authored this post.)

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