MANILA -- Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones has reiterated that the main objective of the K to 12 program is to improve the quality of education in the country and “not solely to provide immediate jobs for its graduates.”

This, after some reports said "the program is a failure" because most senior high school (SHS) graduates did not land jobs after graduation due to skills-job mismatch.

“It is because your assumption is every single senior high school student will have a job which is not correct because 61 percent or 700,000 to 800,000 of our graduates plan to continue on to college,” Briones said in a press briefing Monday in Quezon City High School.

Briones said that 28 percent of the graduates belonging to technical vocational strand were hired immediately due to the “work immersion or on the job training” requirement in SHS.

“They have a certification from TESDA. Many of them passed the exam of TESDA kaya makakatrabaho na sila. Yung iba kapag tinanong mo bakit sila nagtatrabaho, para maka night class sila ulit, para makapag-aral sila ulit (so they can work. If you ask them why they’re working, they’ll say so they can do night class, so they can study again),” she said.

TESDA, which stands for Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, is the government agency tasked to manage and supervise technical education and skills development in the Philippines.

With the K to 12 program, Briones said students are given better options and opportunities to improve their education and quality of life.

“To those who will go to college, the chances are all up to their hard work since tuition is already free in state colleges and local universities,” she said.

In an earlier interview with Philippine News Agency (PNA), Assistant Secretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said the K to 12 program, in its third year of implementation, is already in a good position in terms of the required infrastructures, materials and teacher training.

Malaluan said that a recent survey showed that SHS education has decreased the percentage of dropouts among high school students.

“Before less than 50 percent of fourth year high school graduates go to college, now 93 percent of the SHS graduates will continue to college, this shows strong support from learners,” he said.

With regard to program implementation, Malaluan said DepEd needs to strengthen its collaboration with the community and private sector to improve on the alignment of education with the companies’ employment requirements.

In April, some 1.252 million learners graduated from SHS. For the school year 2018 to 2019, DepEd welcomed some 2.813 million grade 11 and grade 12 learners based on their projected data. (PNA)