Antonio Tinio, president of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, said Tuesday that instead of focusing on the proposal, the government should find ways on how to solve the rising number of out-of-school youths.
'The government should solve this problem. It should find ways on how to convince students to remain in school and encourage them to graduate under the 10-year basic education cycle,' he told ABS-CBN.
Tinio said 3.3 million children aged six to 15 are out of school. He said the number is 78% bigger than the 1.8 million children who were out of school in 2001.
He said the 12-year basic education proposal would only be feasible if the country's economy has improved.
Meanwhile, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus supported Tinio's opinion, saying that the proposal will be implemented depending on the availability of funds.
'In principle, [the proposal] is good but only with enough funds,' Lapus said.
Lapus said the additional two years in the basic education cycle means four million additional students. More students would mean additional teachers and textbooks.
'It shows that we're still lagging with the current 10 years [of basic education],' the education chief said.
Lapus said he supports the proposal but instead of adding two more years in the intermediate and secondary levels, the government should add from below.
Lapus proposed an additional kindergarten level in public schools to help children prepare for Grade 1. 'What we're pushing is more urgent, add another level for kindergarten.'
He said students in the early grade levels of 1, 2 and 3 have a 20% dropout rate, which he said can be addressed by a 'readiness' programme.
Statements from Tinio and Lapus came as President Arroyo formed the Presidential Task Force on Education headed by Father Bienvenido Nebres of the Ateneo de Manila University to look into the proposal.