The Philippines' educational system has lagged behind its Asian neighbors's program for higher education.
STUDENTS of this generation have a chance to experience radical changes in the country’s educational system, one that promises to bring it to the 21st Century.
Implemented in June 2011, the program is known as K + 12 and is being implemented by government in a bid to keep pace with the rest of the world in terms of education.
K plus 12, which stands for Kindergarten plus twelve more years of basic education, aims to provide students with sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship.
Up until today, the Philippines has been lagging behind other countries in Asia: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Vietnam all have 12 pre-university education and even Mongolia has joined the club recently.
Worldwide, only Angola and Djiboutihave a 10-year pre-university cycle aside from the Philippines.
Thus, the Philippines is a relative late-comer to the 12-year education club.
Most countries view the 10-year education cycle as inadequate.
As a result, graduates from the Philippines are required in some countries to undergo additional courses and pass new examinations in order for their academic credentials to be recognized or be admitted into their chosen professions.
As envisioned, the “K to 12”education program will not only allow students more time to acquire mastery of basic
competencies. It is also designed to produce students who will be more emotionally mature by the time they graduate, and be adequately prepared for the word of work or entrepreneurship or higher education.
They should also be employable and globally competitive.
The K to 12 system will raise the standards of our education, thus meeting the requirements of international education system and employment.
According to DepEd Undersecretary Yolanda S. Quijano, ED.D., “Every graduate of the Enhanced K to 12 Basic Education program is an empowered individual who has learned, through a program that is rooted on sound educational principles and geared towards excellence, the foundations for learning throughout life, the competence to engage in work and be productive, the ability to coexist in fruitful harmony with local and global communities, the capability to engage in autonomous critical thinking, and the capacity to transform others and one ’s self.”
On the other hand, given the many and serious problems besetting the educational system, implementation of the program is not expected to be all smooth sailing.
Not exactly new
The problem of establishing an educational system that is suited to the needs of the country is one of the most studied.
Beginning with the Monroe Survey (1925), Prosser Survey (1930), and the UNESCO Mission Survey (1949), a longer duration of the education cycle has been a common theme.
The Presidential Commission to Survey Philippine Education (PCSPE) conducted in 1970,recommended that high priority be given to the implementation of an 11 – year program – 6 years of compulsory elementary education and 5 years of secondary education.
It also recommended that “high priority be given to the provision of technical and vocational education and retraining programs in order to meet current and projected needs for trained manpower in a developing society.”
Given all these studies, it is apparent that a major reform of the educational system has long been overdue.
Indeed, available data suggests that the ten year cycle has not worked for the Filipino student.
Academic programs meant to be completed in 12 years have been crammed into ten, resulting in poor competencies and graduates that are not mature enough and legally employable.
It is in this view that the Aquino Administration is pressing on with the enhanced program.
Under a phased implementation which includes institutionalized public kindergarten program for 5-year-olds, the Department of Education (DepEd) introduced a new curriculum for Grade 1 and 1st year high school when the school year opened in June this year.
The Grade 1 enrollees for the school year 2012-2013 are the first batch to fully undergo the program, and the current First Year Junior High School students will be the beneficiaries of the full program for secondary students which will now include two years of senior high school.
Under R.A. 10157 or the “Kindergarten Education Act” approved January 2012 with Implementing Rules and Regulations (DepED Order No. 32, s. 2012), kinder, a one-year preparatory education for children at least five years old, will be made compulsory for all grade 1 students.
At this level, students are slowly introduced to the formal learning environment and are taught the alphabet, numbers, shapes, and colors through games, songs, and dances, in their Mother Tongue, which is said to be a more effective for your learners.
Grade 1 students enrolled in the current school year are expected to be in grade 6 during SY 2017-2018, while those enrolled in Grade 7 or First Year High School will complete (with diplomas) junior high school in SY 2015-2016.
They are expected to be completing senior high school (Grades 11-12) by 2018, earning senior high school diplomas.
Those entering tertiary level education (college) after this will be required to have undergone the full 12 years of basic education.
Starting Grade 1, English and Filipino are taught as subjects aside from the Mother Tongue, focusing on oral fluency.
From Grade 4 to 6, English and Filipino are introduced as languages of instruction.
Learning progression is spiral, with subjects being taught some simple to more complicated concepts throughout the grade levels.
Subjects like Biology and Chemistry are integrated from Grades 7 to 10.
Senior High School focuses on preparing the student for the future – integrating all that has been learned so far so that the student becomes more prepared for life.
Here, curriculum content depends on the career paths the students will take.
The three tracks include: Academic; Technical-Vocational-Livelihood; and Sports and Arts.
The Academic track includes three strands: Business, Accountancy, Management (BAM); Humanities, Education, Social Sciences (HESS); and Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM).
Students undergo immersion, which may include earn-while-you-learn opportunities, to provide them relevant exposure and actual experience in their chosen track.
After graduation, those who opt for the tech-voc-livelihood track can earn certification from TESDA which can qualify them for employment, provided they pass assessment.
On the other hand, those who choose to continue on to college will find that their stay in college will be shorter than before with the revised General Education Curriculum that will be used.
Transitioning from the existing system is expected to be challenging and stakeholder participation is critical for the program to succeed.
To facilitate the transition from the existing 10-year basic education to 12 years, DepEd is also implementing the SHS and SHS Modeling.
Transition for Private Schools Private schools craft their transition plans based on: (1) current/previous entry ages for Grade 1 and final year of Kinder, (2) duration of program, and most importantly, (3) content of curriculum offered.
The government may not need to meet the full cost of the program until 2016, but it will have to address existing gaps including problems in budget, adequacy of teaching resources, classrooms and many others.
The President, on the other hand, has assured that resource gaps will be addressed within two years and has ordered the Department of Education to work hard in order to meet the requirements.
According to the Official Gazette of the Office of the President, the estimated total funding requirement to procure all needed resources is P150 billion which will cover 152,569 new classrooms, 103,599 more teachers, 95.6 million more books and 13.2 million seats.
The program is intended to shift the focus on high school as simply preparation for college. With the rising costs of college education, there has been a steady reduction in the number of college graduates.
K plus 12 aims to produce graduates who have employable skills even if they do not enroll in regular college courses.
On the other hand, private sector educators fear that the situation may result in the displacement of college instructors as students by this time will have to finish high school before being allowed to enroll in college.
Private higher learning institutions will also be affected as low enrolment in college freshman levels is expected within the first couple of years when students begin taking up senior high school in 2016.
To meet these challenges, and many others like these, transition mechanisms are being crafted and managed in consultation with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and other critical stakeholders.
Effective partnerships should be brought into full play to minimize shortfalls and to meet needs that shall arise as a result of the program.
For instance, to deal with the new requirements for accommodating Senior High School students, the program will be implemented in partnership with CHED, TESDA, and private schools.
Private schools may be asked to provide the facilities for the new entrants to senior high, especially for the transition years.
The government will also build new Senior High Schools where teachers from the private sector may also teach under certain arrangements.
Strong political will, manifested in a clear willingness to put behind the program sufficient public resources, isimperative to address the gaps in the educational system in the face of a growing population, changing political and economic landscapes, and the demands of a global economy.
Local government units are also being called to help strengthen the program by putting in the necessary infrastructure that will enhance access to education and in providing other support mechanisms that will further the country’s education goals.
Teachers, as well as the entire academic community have to adopt to the changes, armed with the required skills and knowledge, and a mindset that is modern, alert and responsive.
The K plus 12-enhanced basic education program is a massive undertaking that promises to bring the country’s educational system to the 21st century.
Education, as a movement from darkness to light, requires the cooperation of all sectors of society. To fail to move forward in bringing quality education to the youth is to fail to prepare for the future. - Bicol Mail