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DepEd unveils the new national educational plan: the K to 12 Basic Education Program

January 13, 2012

The Department of Education (DepEd) has begun the shift to the K to 12 educational system, which will add two years to the current national basic education program.

The new system is meant to tackle the many problems plaguing Philippine education: poor quality, poor internal inefficiency, inadequate faculty credentials and facilities, and a congested curriculum that does not give students enough time to master what is being taught.

The deteriorating quality of education offered to Filipino student has led to the declining global competitiveness of our graduates and low achievement scores in the National Achievement Test and international tests like the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study.

Meeting international standards

According to the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, among the Asean countries, the Philippines is fifth in quality of basic education and last in quality of science and math education and capacity for innovation. In the world, we are 75th overall.

The Philippines is also the last country in Asia, and only one of three countries in the entire world, that still has a 10-year pre-university program (other countries have at least 11). This means that it can be difficult for Filipino students to compete internationally because a 12-year program is a requirement for entry into many companies and institutions of higher learning abroad.

\”Basic education is a right,\” says DepEd Undersecretary for Legal and Legislative Affairs Alberto Muyot. \”Filipino children are shortchanged because our current educational system does not meet international educational standards. There\’s a big disparity between our system and the rest of the world.\” The new K to 12 system is meant to address this inequality and make up for it.

The K to 12 curriculum

The K to 12 Basic Education Program will have 12 years of basic education:

Kindergarten: Five years old

•Grades 1 to 6 (Elementary): Six to 11 years old

•Grades 7 to 10 (Junior High School): 12 to 15 years old

•Grades 11 to 12 (Senior High School): 16 to 17 years old

In Grades 11 and 12, core subjects like math, science and English will be strengthened. The senior high school curriculum will also include specializations — academic, technical-vocational and sports and arts, depending on students\’ strengths and areas of interest.

Specialized high schools (such as science high schools, schools for the arts and trade schools) will remain specialized schools, with enriched curriculums for Grades 7 to 12.

A technical working group consisting of experts from Commission on Higher Education (Ched), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) and other education professionals is currently formulating a new curriculum framework and will make recommendations in terms of subjects added, removed and enhanced.

The K to 12 system will not be \”one size fits all.\” It is meant to be tailored in some respects, depending on the needs of each region and locality-for instance, in the ARMM region, the Madrasah curriculum is a component of the K to 12 program.

Private schools

Since private schools follow the DepEd curriculum, they will also be implementing the 12-year basic education program, but the implementation plan will differ from that of public schools, as most private schools already offer at least 11 years of basic education.

The DepEd will partner with educational institutions outside of the public school system — including private high schools and technical-vocational schools — to introduce the senior high school system during the transition period. Existing schools will be used for the added two years. DepEd is in talks with Ched, Tesda and private schools to use their facilities during the transition period and beyond.

Who pays for K to 12?

The criticism will be made that the current educational system is already profoundly in need of funds and dealing with a huge shortage of teachers and up-to-date facilities and equipment; why does the government think that adding another two years to the system will improve the situation, or even be feasible?

DepEd Undersecretary for Finance and Administration Francisco Varela sees it as redressing a grievous imbalance. \”We have underinvested in education,\” he says. This has resulted in a lack of classrooms and of teachers, as well as subpar and in many cases outdated educational materials. It only means that the department must fix these shortcomings. \”The mistakes of the past must not bar us; in fact, we must double our efforts to address current shortages.\”

Currently, paying for education makes up about two percent of the national budget, down from three percent of a few years ago and less than the four percent to six percent of many other countries. The K to 12 system will bring the fraction up to around three percent again.

Implementation schedule

The kindergarten level of the new system is already in place, having begun in the 2011-2012 school year.

For next school year (2012-2013), Grade 1 and Grade 7 (first year high school) will be implemented.

Grade 11 (fifth year high school/first year senior high school) will be implemented in 2016-2017, and the first batch of senior high school graduates will matriculate in 2018. The first full K to 12 batch, that is, the ones who entered Kindergarten in 2011, will graduate in 2024.

2012 to 2018 will be a critical transition period. The phased implementation of the system will be as follows:

•2010-2012 — universal implementation of kindergarten and the enactment of the Universal Kindergarten Law

•2012-2016 — the migration of Grade 1 and Grade 7, SHS (senior high school) modeling and the enactment of the K to 12 Education Law

•2016-2018 — the implementation of Grades 11 and 12 in public high schools

•2018-2023 — complete migration of the K to 12 basic education curriculum

The transition period will include two programs: the SHS System Readiness Assessment, which will determine the current absorptive capacity per region of all educational institutions, ascertain current industry and employment demand, and ensure that the system will adequately address both; and the K to 12 Modeling, which will develop K to 12 model schools per region and introduce senior high school in selected schools ahead of the planned nationwide implementation in SY 2016-2017.

The areas that will have pilot programs in place are Laguna (for Luzon), Bohol (Visayas), Cagayan de Oro (Mindanao) and Quezon City (NCR).

What the K to 12 system

hopes to achieve

Fewer dropouts. According to the DepEd, for every 100 high school graduates, only 77 go on to post-secondary education (54 to higher education institutions, 23 to technical-vocational schools). The rest are school leavers.

The overall statistics are even more depressing: out of 100 Grade 1 pupils, only 66 go on to finish Grade 6. Of these 66, only 58 go enroll in first year high school. Of these 58, only 43 finish high school. Of these 43, only 33 go on to higher education (college or technical-vocational schools). Of these 33, only 21 graduate (14 from higher education, 7 from technical-vocational).

The DepEd aims to reduce the number of school leavers through the K to 12 system by providing access to free post-secondary education in public schools.

The added two years will decongest the curriculum somewhat, which directly addresses the dropout problem; many students drop out because they cannot handle the amount of schoolwork for a number of reasons.

More employable graduates. DepEd believes that K to 12 offers a more balanced approach to learning. The curriculum will allow students to acquire Certificates of Competency and National Certifications, both of which are in accordance with Tesda training regulations. These will offer them better employment opportunities after they leave school.

The new system means to bridge the labor supply and demand gap-it aims to produce what the industry requires, a skilled Filipino workforce that is creative, technically competent, knowledge-based and with desirable work attitudes. It wants to be a \”holistic\” education that will create well-rounded individuals who can contribute positively to society, and graduates who are better prepared for higher education or for work after high school.  –Barbara Marchdesch, Contributor, Daily Tribune

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