The controversial K+12 is not really controversial. All the commentaries by Filipino academic scientists that I have read are not in favor of the new K+12 program (e.g., “Science and K+12,” Inquirer, 2/6/12). On the other hand, those supporting it are not natural or social scientists, meaning, without valid publications or properly published works (e.g., “Group launches program to save RP education,” Inquirer, 1/28/10). In particular, their views differ in the crucial science part of the K+12 curriculum.
Among the reasons of those against the K+12 are: (1) the new program should first undergo a trial run at selected schools before nationwide adoption; (2) there are no valid studies of local problems to support the curricular changes and additional two years; (3) the new program components did not consider the relevant results of international research on science education; and (4) there are more urgent problems like teachers, classrooms, textbooks, dropouts, etc.
Recent developments in the teaching of science have shown the importance of early (kindergarten) exposure to science, and the changed ways of making them learn. These are not evident in the K+12 curriculum. Examples are reported by the Nobel laureate Carl Wieman, by Science editor and former president of the US National Academy of Sciences Bruce Alberts, and by Columbia physics professor Brian Greene. They have been involved in research on science education, whose innovative results have been tested or are undergoing pilot tests.
Their studies suggest a better way to improve basic education: (a) put only the right people in charge; (b) program components should be based on tested studies abroad and on properly published studies of local problems; (c) undergo trial runs or verification at selected schools before nationwide implementation.
The best candidate for verification at selected sites or limited implementation (say one per region) is the work of the husband-and-wife team of scientists—and recipients of the 2010 Ramon Magsaysay Award for education—Christopher and Ma. Victoria Bernido (“Poverty and scarcity are no barriers to quality education,” Inquirer, 10/14/10).
Their results included the following: (1) bypassing the need for qualified teachers; (2) only one copy of textbook per class needed; (3) no expensive lab equipment; (4) only one-fourth of the allotted class period needed and (5) students not given homework. Their students, under such learning conditions, have shown a marked increase in proficiency levels, especially in Science, Math and reading comprehension.
Based on the above information—and for lack of the necessary expertise to evaluate information correctly on the part of those who prepared it—the new K+12 program is likely to fail. The phased implementation (starting with next June’s batch of Grade 1 pupils and first-year high schoolers) will not substitute for a trial run. Why have we not learned in the last five decades from the failed programs in education?
retired professor of marine science,
UP Diliman, firstname.lastname@example.org