On October 5, 2010, Department of Education shocks students, teachers, academe, workers, officials, laymen and, especially, the now-troubled parents when it announces to adopt a K+12 Education System. The news is flashed on every television networks and remains as a front page on national newspapers for several weeks. It has also been the most discussed topic on debates.
The K+12 will replace the current 10-year school cycle of primary education for 12 years. Under this program, a 4-year-old child goes for Kindergarten for 1 year, 6 years for Elementary, 4 years for Junior High School and 2 years for Senior high school before the admission for college.
The government says that a reform on education is “urgent and critical”. Assuming that the public statistics provided is all with God’s truth, Philippines, DepEd tells us, has been lagging behind on standardized test. On 2003 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, for instance, in Second Year High school we ranked 34th out of 38 countries on Math, in Grade 4 we ranked 23th out of 25 countries and on 2008 results, we were not even worth mentioning – we came last. Not to mention the 2008 scores were from the science high schools, which is the most advanced high school in the country. This results are blamed to the current basic education, “designed to teach a 12-year curriculum, yet it is delivered in just 10 years” and concludes how low the quality of Philippine education is. Problems have also aroused when Filipino professionals, mostly engineers, were not accepted in international jobs reasoning that the 10-year curriculum is “insufficient”.
The additional two years of the curriculum is spent on mastering the previous lessons and the program also offers “areas of specialization or electives” in this period such as accounting, music, arts, agriculture, entrepreneurship, welding, electricity but mostly in technical and vocational skills. High school graduates then in this program, of the age between 17 and 18, are fully matured to enter college and fully capable for employment, as psychologists claims. College graduates, in turn, will also be globally competitive for the said curriculum are practiced on most countries. However, despite the encouraging facts, people still remain doubtful.
There is a statistics, which I can’t verify, that Philippine schools lacks thousands of classroom, hundred thousands of teachers and millions of books. Now, if the government starts implementing the K+12, which they already did, how can they fund the 12 years program if they can’t even sustain the previous 10? Wouldn’t it be better to solve the recent problem to get better results rather than burying it in the past? Not to mention the addition of 2 years is a heavy burden to the lower class and even to the average one. Of course, the program doesn’t scare the affluent people. But to say a matter-of-factly, affluent people only constitute at least 5 percent of the total population.
A study was conducted if the length of school cycle directly affects the quality of education. The result is it isn’t. But it is a bit hazy. The study mostly compared the Philippines, a third-world country, to the first world countries like South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore, to name of a few, rather than the Asian counterparts. It was faulty but it speaks a lot. The rich countries have more “quality” teaching. They can afford to ratio 30 students to 1 teacher. Unlike them, the Philippines gets a congested classroom. Filipino students are equally battling of studying for school and being hungry.
DepEd shows that Philippines is one of the three countries all over the world who still retains a 10-year pre-university cycle, along with Djibouti and Angola. In Asia, all of the countries have the 11 or 12 pre-university cycle except the Philippines.
A patriotic Filipino might say that the K+12 program will make Filipino graduates a “commercial product” of the Philippines, sending Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) all over the world. But isn’t it the way we want it? We owe a debt of gratitude to the OFWs for improving our economy. Why not help them? It’s not like we will be force to work abroad, we have a choice and so are they. Besides, DepEd has been successful on their past programs such the Alternative Learning System (ALS), which helps out-of-school youth teenagers or late adults to as proceed college without going through the whole 10 year cycle.
When I was in elementary and high school, we didn’t finish the books we ought to discuss. We stopped midway then moving to another grade. Now, in college, I still experienced basic courses like Earth Science, Filipino, intermediate English and Algebra, which was ought to be tackled in High School. However, our university see it isn’t enough and so they shove these minor subjects in our schedule. If the K+12 is implemented, incoming first year colleges will only have to focus on their major subjects, making them more committed to their time. Of course, if you choose not to continue to college, you are still capable of working minor jobs. K+12 is still a double-edge advantage.
The DepEd promised to allot a specific budget to the K+12 program. In due time, the educational deficits will be filled one by one. True, it is all promises but its all we got. If we don’t move, we still receive the same results, low and disappointing. This uncertainty is the risk we have to take. And if this fails, and that is the lesson we have to learn.
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