By Chito Chavez
The League of Filipino Students (LFS) has insisted the K-12 program does not address problems in the educational system and actually worsens unemployment.
A survey conducted by Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) has revealed that only one out of five companies are willing to hire senior high school (SHS) graduates.
The LFS maintained that this belied the government’s claim that K-12 graduates need not enter college since they are work-ready and have the necessary skills to secure jobs.
More than one-million students are expected to graduate from SHS this year.
“We’ve always pointed out that K-12 is nothing but a trash program designed to squeeze out profit from students and produce cheap export- and enclave-ready labor. The results of a recent survey come as no surprise. Students are left with no choice but to work as contractuals with low wages or find work abroad notwithstanding the fact that they’ll be prone to abuse and exploitation by foreigners, with some of them even dying due to inhuman working conditions. Dark days lie ahead for the youth. This is the future Duterte envisions for the youth,” LFS national spokesperson Kara Taggaoa said.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) also showed that at least 663,000 jobs were lost last year, increasing the number of unemployed to 41 million from 40.3 million as of December 2017.
Among the unemployed, 20.4 percent were college graduates, 14.1 percent were college undergraduates and 30.6 percent were those who completed junior high school.
The National Capital Region (NCR) was among the areas with the highest unemployment rate at 6.1 percent.
IBON Foundation noted that labor force participation rate (LFPR) dropped to 63.7 percent, the lowest in over three decades since the 63.1-percent rate during the severe economic crisis in 1985.
The vast reserve army of unemployed gives employers a huge leverage to peg wages at a low level, combining with government’s cheap wage policy to keep pay down and contractualization unabated.
“The youth have long criticized the government’s inability to produce jobs, increase wages and end contractualization. What can we expect from a President who promised to protect the likes of Lucio Tan and his ilk?” Taggaoa asked.
The LFS leader added that even if SHS graduates enter college, they will face harsher conditions under a commercialized system of education.
“If they do happen to enter college, they’ll just be slapped with exorbitant tuition and other school fees. Private schools seek to widen capitalist-educators’ profit through annual tuition and other fee increases. In state universities and colleges (SUCs), Duterte doesn’t intend to implement free education. Students are still being charged tuition despite a free-tuition policy. Now, the government keeps on making excuses for its negligence to issue the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Republic Act No. 10931. We, however, see it as a maneuver to maintain the profiteering scheme that has characterized public higher education,” Taggaoa added.
The lack of job opportunities continues to drive millions of Filipinos abroad for work.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) reports that 1,281,506 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were deployed from January to September 2017, or equivalent to an average of 4,694 per day in the first three quarters of 2017.
Millions of Filipinos also continue to be driven into informal, low-paying and insecure work.
“K-12’s goal is to produce millions of cheap, skilled and semiskilled labor that are prepared to work in export enclaves. This is aimed at catering to the demands of foreign businesses seeking cheap labor to cut down production costs and raise profits. K-12 essentially intends to produce slaves for capitalist exploitation,” Taggaoa argued.
The LFS said on top of worsening unemployment is the government’s failure to genuinely end contractualization with Malacañang allegedly seeking a compromise with employers.
The youth group added that K-12 enhances the extant labor export policy since graduates will be forced to find work abroad but warned that SHS graduates will likely end up like Joanna Demafelis and others who were exploited, abused and killed by foreigners.
“The crisis of unemployment will not end unless there is genuine land reform and national industrialization. Only then can the country truly develop an independent, self-reliant economy that provides decent wages, job security and social services to its citizens,” Taggaoa added.