By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
With the pending review of the K to 12 curriculum, a youth group urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to include labor rights as a core curriculum subject particularly in the Senior High School (SHS).
Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (Spark), a youth organization aiming to educate and mobilize the youth in widening its democratic rights and empower them to counter all forms of oppression and capitalist exploitation, welcomed the planned review of the K to 12 curriculum as announced by Education Secretary Leonor Briones earlier.
During the review, Spark expressed hope that DepEd will also focus on teaching the K to 12 learners more about labor rights – which will be very useful for them as they look for employment. “Labor rights must be included as a core curriculum subject of the senior high schools since wage employment is an option every graduate may choose upon graduation, not only those in the tech-voc track,” Spark said. “This will also ensure that graduates will not fall victim to abusive employers, or worse, parasitic manpower agencies for both domestic and foreign deployment,” the group added.
Among the expected outcomes of K to 12 is to produce graduates that are job ready. Given this, Spark believes that it would only be “logical for them to be taught their labor rights in preparation for employment.”
Spark noted that the inclusion of a special subject on labor rights should cover topics such as “salaries and wages, employment policies, state-sanctioned benefits, grievances procedures and other political rights in the workplace.”
Spark believes that the “thorough” review of the K to 12 curriculum is very “timely” after the pilot batch of the SHS graduated a few months ago. “The timely review sought by Briones intends the youth to gain more life skills apparently to adapt with the changing times,” the group said. “She wishes to arm them with analytical and problem solving skills,” it added.
The group also agreed with Briones when she stressed the need to prepare students to deal with changes brought about by the evolving world. “Recent advancements in technology have altered the global landscape of industry and employment, making it equally challenging for educators to upgrade their tools of instruction and for the youth to compete for scarce, decent jobs as millions graduate from universities and vocational-technological institutions yearly,” Spark said. “This, on top of the menace of contractual employment sweeping all industries, even among the ranks of state workers,” it added.
Spark noted that as the competition in the job market intensifies, “state agencies as well as the captains of industries are more concerned with the quality of work the graduates of the K to 12 program will offer.” However, the group observed that teachings on labor rights in schools is fundamentally lacking.
“We would like to bring to the attention of not only the DepEd but also the general public to the other side of the coin,” Spark said. “No one seems to bother to ask about the quality of life the K to 12 graduates will acquire after finishing the program [and] it seems to be off the radar for many in the bureaucracy as the government continues to falter in generating quality jobs and refuses to terminate its labor export policy,” the group added.
For Spark, it is bothersome that the “Duterte administration continues to not only sacrifice us in the pagan altars of capital by further depriving the youth of dignity by maintaining our ignorance of our most fundamental and constitutionally guaranteed rights.”
The group stressed that while “many will claim that the quality of life is commensurate to the education attained and employment landed after graduation” what they fail to recognize is that “dignity is not measured by your salary grade or the number of perks derived from one’s job.”
Spark noted that Briones is in the position to “correct the errors and the historical injustice generated” in the past two years by “extensively educating the youth of their labor rights.”
The group said that if the DepEd is keen on producing “critical minded, dignified and productive” youth, it should include teaching labor rights. “To exclude our rights in the curriculum is tantamount to chaining us to a life of ignorance, apathy, poverty and undignified lives,” Spark ended.