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JR Lopez Gonzales 3:46 PM 0

by: Kristine Anne Urquia

Mandated to give every Filipino child the basic right to quality education and the right to a quality life, Art XIV Sec 2 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution states that, “The State shall establish, maintain, and support a complete, adequate, and integrated system of education relevant to the needs of the people and the society.” To attain such purpose, the present administration has implemented the K+12 Curriculum. If it weren’t for such, the Philippines should be the single country in Asia and among the three remaining countries in the world that applies a congested 10-year basic education cycle.

But then, what is the K+12 Curriculum?

“K+12 means extending basic education by two years, so instead of having a high school graduate at 16 (years old), we will have high schoolers graduating at 18,” explained Prof. Lorina Calingasan of the College of Education in UP Diliman. Kindergarten points to the 5-year old child who undertakes the standardized curriculum for preschoolers. Elementary education refers to 6 years of primary school (Grades 1-6) while secondary education means four years of junior high school (Grades 7-10 or HS Year 1-4). In addition to this, two years will be allotted for senior high school (Grades 11-12 or HS Year 5-6). Simply put, the program makes kindergarten mandatory and adds two years to the past 10-year basic education.

However, as Woodrow Wilson once said, “It is easier to change the location of a cemetery, than to change the school curriculum.” Issues raised towards the new setting were based on parents additional burden on educational expenses, teachers’ and school administrators’ readiness, availability of instructional materials and issues of adjustments to be made by tertiary institutions. Nevertheless, these reasons did not stop the implementation of K+12 which was launched April 2012 and has already begun its implementation for the first time in June by the Department of Education.

In an interview made by The Philippines Inquirer with the Secretary of Education to elucidate the sense of the modification, Br. Armin A. Luistro, FSC provided the following reply:

“Filipinos often reminisce about the era until the 1950s when the Philippine economy was second only to Japan in Asia.

In the decades that followed, the Philippines watched itself being overtaken by countries that rebuilt themselves from war, instability and poverty, as our own continued to sink into the quagmire of disunity, destructive politics and corruption.

Correlated to the country’s economic decline is the neglect and deterioration of its educational sector. Is it any wonder that today our country has fallen from its former prestige to the bottom of most global rankings of progress and development?

The Department of Education’s K to 12 Program is one concrete response to reverse this steady decline and to move toward its goal of long-term educational reform and sustainable economic growth.

The central feature of the K to 12 Program is the upgrading of the basic education curriculum to ensure that learners acquire the relevant knowledge and skills they will need to become productive members of society. It seeks to introduce relevant skills development courses and special interest subjects that will suit the personality, strengths and career direction of each learner.

With the participation of the Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the program has the capability of offering professionally designed classes and apprenticeships in sports, the arts, middle-level skills, entrepreneurship, and applied math and sciences.

Whereas the old system overemphasized the value of a college degree before employment, the new program is designed to equip every learner who graduates after senior high school (Grade 12) with the opportunity for improved employment and entrepreneurship while ensuring that the high-school graduate has the necessary competencies to pursue a college degree either immediately or at some later stage.

With an upgraded and better-equipped pool of human resource, industries will be able to find better and more qualified matches in their labor requirements.

For graduates proceeding to tertiary education, the K to 12 Program puts them at par with their international counterparts and makes them more competitive in colleges and universities both here and abroad.

Higher education institutions will gain the flexibility to offer more enriched and specialized courses in every degree program since a number of its general education courses would have already been completed in high school. This greatly advances the graduates’ chances of landing 21st-century careers and acquiring self-employment skill sets.

As in any worthwhile investment, returns are reaped only after enough time and effort.

The K to 12 Program is just the beginning of what we hope to be the answer to the Philippines’ comeback to the global stage, and a sustained path toward progress and development for its people. If we want to see our country back on the right track, we must dare take that first bold step today.”

As a starter for this year, the kindergarten was made a mandatory requirement for all 5 year olds prior to preschool level which is necessary before proceeding to elementary education. Those who have just graduated from elementary during the previous scholastic year will be the first batch who will be called as Seventh graders and those who are Tenth Graders will still be graduating during the end of this school year. Thus, only the labeling has been changed. DepEd Assistant Secretary for Programs and Projects Elena Ruiz said high school freshmen next year are planned to enter Grade 11 by school year 2016-2017 under the K+12 implementation plan. “By 2016, we will have our first batch of senior high school, or Grade 11 … That’s the batch entering first year high school (Seventh Grade) in June. By March 2018, we will have our first graduates of the two additional years in senior high school,” Ruiz said. Therefore, mean there will be no high school graduation on March 2016, as all “fourth year” high school students will shift into senior high school.

There will definitely be a lot of ups and downs due to adjustments parallel to this vulnerable issue along the way, but the new landscaping of the educational curriculum is for the students to acquire academic skills and competencies relevant to the job market and an even chance at succeeding in becoming more fruitful and useful citizens of the country. May we all support the government’s action to further the Philippine’s quality of education. As accountable future lawyers, let us not just look and marvel in the midst of alterations but instead, be attentive, active and responsive because we should not forget, the youth will always be our future.

AUTHOR'S NOTE:
Kristine Anne "Krauss" Urquia is a law student and contributor for The Nexus. This article appeared in MSU College of Law - IIT Extension's publication last semester.

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