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K to 12: Is it really OK? by: Miss Ellen C. Macaraeg Principal II, Tenejero Elementary School City of Balanga

posted Jan 25, 2014, 4:37 PM by Edeliza Manalaysay

    “When the structure of K to 12 is set in place and it becomes law, then K to 12 will already be the framework of Philippine basic education,”-Education Secretary Armin Luistro 

Luisito is already 11 years old and is an elementary graduate of a public school. Soon, he will be stepping into the new world of high school. He is a son of a farmer and a housewife. But what his parents are having problem is about this new program which prolong the years of Luisito to study in high school. Would this be a benefit for Luisito and his family?

Last school year 2012 to 2013 was the start of an improved K to 12 Basic Education Program which adds two more years to the existing 10-year basic education curriculum in the Philippines. The program consists of kindergarten, six years of elementary school, four years of junior high school (grades 7 to 10), and two years of senior high school (grades 11 to 12). This means incoming high school freshmen will be entering Grade 7, the first year of junior high school. 

What does K to 12 aims for? The Department of Education (DepEd) with the initiative of President Benigno Aquino III aims that the Philippine education system would be at par with international standards, following the Washington Accord and the Bologna Accord, and contributing to the development of a better-educated society capable of pursuing productive employment, entrepreneurship, or higher education disciplines.

What does K to 12 seek for? The new program seeks to cure what ails the Philippine basic and secondary education system. Inadequacies of the basic education curriculum have been observed for many years. Proposals to restore Grade 7 or add an extra year to basic education have been put forward to the President Task Force on Education in 2008. But not everyone agrees that the additional years will result in better-educated, competitive, and employable graduates.

Is there any problem with K to 12 program? This program starts its 1st year against a backdrop of perennial woes: lack of teachers, shortage in classrooms, school buildings, and textbooks, a curriculum that needs overhauling, and a budget that even education officials call a “survival budget.” 

But even as Congress has yet to pass a law, the government is pushing forward K to 12. The public can simply put their faith on the government providing the necessary budgetary support to address the various infrastructural, instructional, and institutional reforms needed to make K to 12 works.

Why would the DepEd promote this program? One of the reasons why DepEd pursue the K to 12 program is because of the dismal statistics in the National Achievement Test (NAT) passing rates for Grade 6 and 4th year students are only 69 and 46 percent, respectively in of School Year 2009-2010. In the Trends for International Math and Sciences Study (TIMSS), the Philippines often placed fourth from last. A 2009 World Bank Study also found that employers considered graduates with only 10 years of basic education wanting in essential work skills, like problem-solving and initiative. K to 12 aims to decongest the curriculum by spreading the lessons of subjects over 12 years, instead of 10 years.       

As the two additional years in senior high school will be offered for free in public schools, as announced by the DepEd, the additional budget is expect to be used to absorb the Grade 11 enrollees in 2016, which is expected to number to 1.2 million students.

The DepEd called on the local government units and private partners to support the infrastructure development when it comes to the need for resources for K to12. Another scheme it is eyeing is to front-load all needed capital investments, take a grant or loan from government and private banks based on annual budget, and pay the amortization yearly.

The Department of Education cites improvements in quality of education and effective preparation for employment, not just entering college, as some of the reasons for adding two years to the curriculum. 

Soon, the parents of Luisito will realize that it would be better that their only son will spent at least 6 years in High School. Compared to the old basic education curriculum, this new curriculum will be a tool to mold every Filipino students to be not only Graduates but confident to face the new Journey of life outside the school world. Hopefully K to 12 will guide Luisito and other Filipino students on their way of learning.