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Let’s give K-to-12 a chance

/ 12:03 AM September 11, 2015

The Philippine educational system has gotten a facelift and the fruits of such a rejuvenation effort will be seen and felt in the years to come. Indeed, the passage of Republic Act No. 10533 (or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013) promises a new era for young Filipinos and a new path to learning designed, among other things, to be relevant to different types of learners and to produce globally competitive individuals.

But is the K-to-12 program really all rainbows and butterflies? Let us examine the fundamentals that set it apart from the old educational system.

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From the name itself, the program starts with kindergarten and continues with 12 years of basic education.

Putting a premium on mandatory kindergarten is in line with research studies showing that children who went through kindergarten have better completion rates and are better prepared for primary education. Moreover, it is at ages 0 to 6 years that brain growth is at its most critical period. In the new setup, kindergarten children will learn the alphabet, colors and numbers through games and songs and in their mother tongue.

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In Grades 1 to 3, students will continue to learn through their mother tongue for more effective learning. Both English and Filipino will be gradually introduced as languages of instruction starting in Grade 4. Another key element in the new curriculum is called “spiral progression,” wherein students are taught concepts from the simplest to the more complicated. This also means that all subjects starting from the basics will be connected and integrated from Grades 7 to 10—hopefully to ensure mastery of knowledge and skills after each level.

The glaring new element of K-to-12 is that there will be an additional two years of senior high school. The 12 years of basic education is actually sliced down into six years of primary education; four years of junior high school, and two years of senior high school (SHS). In other words, after completing junior high school (Grades 7 to 10), there will be another two years of specialized upper secondary education wherein students may choose an area of specialization based on their aptitude, interests and school capacity.

The areas of specialization (also known as career tracks) include academics; technical-vocational-livelihood; and sports and arts. Students are given the opportunity to gain relevant exposure and actual experience in their chosen field of specialization. Furthermore, there will be earn-while-you-learn and Tesda (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority)-level certification opportunities under the SHS levels.

Overall, K-to-12 graduates are equipped to embark on different paths, such as further education, employment, or entrepreneurship. The graduates will be nurtured as holistically developed Filipinos prepared to take on the challenges of the 21st century and propel the country to new heights of development.

As in all new government programs, it cannot be denied that K-to-12 will have its share of rough spots and possible roadblocks. Certain sectors have raised, among others, the classroom gap and the displacement of current college personnel. The general question posed is this: Is the government really ready to implement this program now?

The government responds to these legitimate concerns with continued efforts and collaborations to fill the gaps and make way for a smooth transition and implementation of the K-to-12 program. For instance, the 1:1 ratio for student-to-textbook has been achieved. The Department of Education is presently in partnership with other government agencies, local government units and private groups to: properly undertake the phased implementation and transition management; build the needed infrastructure; mitigate the expected low enrollment turnout for colleges in the initial phase of K-to-12 implementation; and enter into agreements with business organizations and industries (both local and foreign) to ensure that graduates will be considered for employment.

The 12-year program is deemed the adequate period for basic education and the standard for recognition of students and professionals abroad. In fact, the Philippines was the last country in Asia and one of only three countries worldwide with a 10-year pre-university cycle. The K-to-12 program will better prepare the skills and competencies of students to pursue higher education, get employed, or become entrepreneurs after senior high school.

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It is expected that there will be reservations and concerns regarding the effectiveness of the program. But we have to trust that our policymakers have thought long and hard and concluded that it is our way forward at this point. Despite the unavoidable birth pains and hiccups, let us pursue the program. It is our duty as citizens to spread awareness about it and help in its proper implementation.

Let us give K-to-12 a chance to produce better-prepared youths for our nation.

Shenny May A. Tiro teaches at Marigondon National High School in Marigondon, Lapu-Lapu City.

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TAGS: Department of Education, DepEd, education, K to 12, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Tesda
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