Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On the Proposed K-12 Basic Education System

The Philippines currently offers a ten year public school system to provide basic education, namely six years of tuition-free grade school and four years of high school.  Since most children begin entering school at six years old however, those who do finish the entire program end up graduating from high school at around 16 years old.  Many critics and educators point out that at this age the high school graduate is not old enough to execute legal contracts  such as for employment or business so that those who want to work immediately after high school are hard pressed to find productive occupations.  Perhaps that is why even the best of them drift into ... politics! through the SK system (but that's another topic.) At the same time, even among those intending to go to college many are emotionally and academically unprepared at 16 to effectively undertake college level study. In part this is due to our short ten year elementary and secondary school curricula.

A major agenda item for the Dept of Education (DepEd) is the proposed K-12 Basic Education System (PDF) which would represent a major expansion of the present ten year public school program to thirteen years.  The PDF file above  discusses the rationale, design and implementation plan of DepEd.  In this post I consider some of the problems and challenges attendant upon the K-12 proposal.


The Philippines will be the last country in the region to adopt a K-12 basic educations system, and only three countries are left in the whole world like it, according to the DepEd discussion paper.  As a result, graduates of the Philippine public school system are at a competitive disadvantage as overseas workers because they do not have as much education, at least on paper, as counterparts from other countries which do have K-12.

Of course the mere fact that everybody else does it is not the only justification for adopting K-12-- although the dismal showing of Philippine students in such global testing surveys as the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (where she is consistently near the very bottom) may be a good indicator that something drastic must be done.  Much was fortunately learned from participating in TIMSS about the possible reasons for the poor showing. TIMSS analysis clearly pointed out the insufficiency of our ten year public school system--with its necessarily congested basic education curriculum.

It appears that we have been teaching 12 years worth of learning in the space of 10 years. What other countries take 12 years to do -- we attempt to accomplish in 10 years. DepEd suggests this is a partial explanation for the ill preparedness of our high school graduates to undertake college level study. The Commission on Higher Education (Ched) which oversees tertiary education in the Philippines has already pointed out that most colleges are spending too much time providing remedial courses to entering students because of that deficiency in the secondary school program.

Most private schools already offer thirteen years of basic education (2 years of Kindergarten, 7 years of elementary school, 4 years of high school).  For example: the Christian Brothers' De La Salle network of schools from which Sec. Armin was recruited by President Aquino.

But attempts by Deped under the Arroyo administration to add a seventh elementary grade between grade school and high school in the so called Bridge Program collapsed under a storm of protest from parents and students who, rightly or wrongly, felt unobliged to defer entry into high school on such short notice, as it were.

The lesson of that ill-fated Bridge Program of a few years ago does not seem to have been lost on the present management at DepEd.

For the public schools DepEd now proposes the addition of a Kindergarten or Pre-school level for five year olds  ahead of the existing six year Elementary School program.  Then the Secondary School program would grow to six years long by retaining the present four year high school program as "Junior High School" and adding a 2 year "Senior High School" program at the end of that.

It's a clever solution that stands a good chance of working, since DepEd is basically keeping the present system intact and will "bookend" or "sandwich" it between a preparatory kindergarten level at the start, and a Senior High School subsystem at the end.

10 comments:

manuelboymejorada said...

The problem about the present curriculum in squeezing 12 years of basic education into just 10 is that students are overloaded with subjects.
Without even having to go inside a classroom, the ordinary observer can already see this from the oversized bags that students have to lug everyday, filled with books and other learning materials.
As a parent, I have seen that students are overburdened with having to study so many subjects, not to mention projects and extra-curricular activities
One consequence is that the ordinary school day leaves our kids exhausted, with little time for play and socializing at school. This leads to the exclusion of learning social skills which is an essential part of growing up.
The main objection of parents against the K-12 is more economic than anything else. Parents fear the extra years will result in more expenses to be shouldered. They miss the point about the proposed curriculum leading to improved learning for their children.

JESSIE JOY ESTORBA said...

we are now doing our research study regarding on this topic..and i'm hardly working on it..it is some kinda experimental way of trying things..because what i've observed in our education system is that..the problem is not the teachers..not the years dwelling on elementary, secondary and even tertiary level..what i believe a problem is buildings..numbers of buildings..schools and rooms inside it..because of the shortage of rooms in a school the school tend to have two shifts..try to see things..

Anonymous said...

as a student concern to this new curriculum, it's just an additional financial burden on families who can hardly afford to send their children to school.. poverty is our major problem right? then see other problems in schools.. lack of books, teachers, classroom.. hope this matter will have solutions.

Jose Lorde Villamor said...

It is time to be aligned to the system of civilized world. We cannot afford to be treated as weird. We are not sons and daughters of geniuses. There is no room for shortcuts.

ed10908 said...

This will surely benefit the majority of the Filipino who are unable to send their children to college due to financial constraints. If the government will be able to regulate the tuition fees at a level at par with the previous 10 yr educational system, then well and good. It will surely make even the HS graduates equally competitive in the market place..

Michelle Lobendino Mercado said...

But the question left to me is who will teach these incoming senior high school students? from TESDA, CHED, and how?

What will happen to colleges and universities for that two year gap?
Because as I see it no incoming first year college students will enroll?

Kurt said...

Though it gives the opportunity for hs students to work, what would be the probability that they can obtain a job? Would the public willingly accept this kind of change? Would you think that the market place will accept with open arms a fresh hs graduate over than the more experienced mature person?

Rhea Seo said...

there is no empirical study yet that there is a direct relationship between quality education and length of years spent in school in the Philippines. maybe in country like US, they find it significant but then again its case to case basis. and if the government complains on quality education then why not proposed it 15 years ago since "we are good on copying programs and laws such anti-juvenile law, without even thinking the consequences and the K-12 is already implemented by neighboring countries". i am not against the propose system, it just that the government does not address yet the basic requirement to have quality education. This includes investing on conducive learning facilities, trained and equiped teachers, more books etc..adding two years will be a complete waste of scarce resource if you can't provide these three basics. imagine putting a teacher who is just 5pages ahead to her/his students in a classroom full-pack of almost 100 in numbers with two to three pupils sharing in one worn-out/obsolete/and sometimes full of error/ book?

ajrakoni said...

What's the use of a child finishing schooling when he cannot get a job? As a parent, I will sweat blood and tears to give my children to the BEST education because I believe it will give them the BEST chance to succeed. I agree with the extension of two years to allow the children to become more physically, emotionally and psychologically mature before jumping into career defining decisions. Drop-outs will always happen, but while financial situation may hinder the system, it should not stop the parents from sending the child to school. Half-baked graduates produced half-baked results often resulting in failures. Preparation is a key ingredient to success. I say yes to K+12.

Greg Funtemayor said...

It is nice that you are sharing this news about this K12 program for Philippine Education. This will also the solution. Thanks for this post.

Greg of Inquirer Philippine Election