As it mourns the passing of former President Benigno Aquino III, the Department of Education (DepEd) paid tribute to the late leader for being a strong advocate of basic education reforms.
“We are one with the Filipino nation in remembering his legacy as a leader of this country,” DepEd said in a statement issued June 24, hours after the news about the death of the country’s former leader broke out.
“We offer our sincere condolences and prayers to the Aquino family in this time of sorrow,” DepEd said, which is currently under the leadership of Education Secretary Leonor Briones since 2016.
Basic education reform advocate
The former President, DepEd said, will be remembered as a staunch advocate of education reforms – especially in the basic education sector.
“President Aquino will be remembered for advocating reforms in basic education, including the introduction of the K to 12 curriculum through the passage of Republic Act (RA) 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013,” DepEd said.
The K to 12 law, signed by Aquino in May 2013, formally mandated the Kindergarten and a 12-year basic education curriculum in the country or the K to 12 Basic Education Program.
Former Education Secretary Armin Luistro, who served as DepEd Chief from 2010 to 2016, then said that this is “breakthrough in basic education” will certainly bring the DepEd to Aquino’s 10-point education agenda – the centerpiece of which is to enhance the curriculum and add two years to the country’s public education cycle.
The K to 12 features Senior High School (SHS) in secondary education (Grade 11 and Grade 12) and made Kindergarten mandatory among five-year-old children in all public schools nationwide.
With the K to 12 Law, the new 12-year basic education curriculum consists of six years of elementary education (from Grades 1 to 6), four years of junior high school (from Grades 7 to 10) and two additional years of senior high school (from Grades 11 and 12).
DepEd said that under Aquino’s watch, the department also also implemented several laws such as Kindergarten Education Act (RA 10157), the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013 (RA 10627), and the Palarong Pambansa Act of 2013 (RA 10588).
Through the RA 10157, Kindergarten education was institutionalized in the country as part of basic education. First implemented, the law made kindergarten education mandatory and compulsory before entering Grade 1.
The RA 10627, on the other hand, further strengthened the government’s efforts to combat bullying in elementary and secondary schools nationwide.
Signed by Aquino in Sept. 2013, the anti-bullying law officially prohibited bullying in all elementary and high schools and mandated all public and private schools offering basic education to adopt policies to prevent and address bullying in their respective institutions.
DepEd also commended Aquino for signing the RA 10588 which paved the way for the institutionalization of the “Palarong Pambansa” as the country’s premier national sporting event by making the department as a venue for talent identification, selection and recruitment of student athletes.