During the launch of the K to 12 Basic Education Program, President Aquino said:
at this era we have named “information age,” the average person must be in possession of a wider range of knowledge just to live a satisfactory life.
From this day on, we can provide the youth with better opportunities to acquire information, to learn. We have gathered to launch a program that will change the education system of our country: the K to 12 Basic Education Program.
So how much change K-12 program will bring to our education system? What is K-12 program in the first place?
K-12 program is educational program where in basic education includes primary education and secondary education in total of 12 years. Here in the Philippines, we used to have K10 program (6 years of primary education and 4 years of secondary education). The changes in the education system brings six years of primary education, four years of junior high school, and two years of senior high school.
The K-12 program also integrated Kindergarten as part of the basic education, ensuring that all Grade 1 students are ready for academic learning (Republic Act No. 10157 entitled “An Act Institutionalizing the Kindergarten Education into the Basic Education System and Appropriating Funds Therefor)
As mentioned in The K to 12 Basic Education Program (Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines):
The adoption of the program is in response to the need to improve the competitiveness of our country’s graduates as the ten-year basic education cycle is seen as inadequate for work and higher education. In fact, overseas Filipino workers are not automatically recognized as professionals in other countries that view the ten-year education program as insufficient. The Philippines is the only country in Asia and is one of only three countries in the world with a ten-year basic education cycle.
So how can the K-12 program improve the competitiveness of our country’s graduates?
The K-12 program is enhanced education where in the basic education is strengthened through the following features of the program: (source)
Institutionalizing the kindergarten making it part of the basic education. Upcoming Grade 1 students are required to take kindergarten to better prepare them for the academic challenges they have to face.
Use of mother tongue as medium of instruction from kindergarten to grade 3. Medium of instruction for Grade 4 onwards will be English and Filipino.
Changes on the Core Academic Areas. For the K-12 program, core academic areas include: Math; Filipino; English; Araling Panlipunan; Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao; and Music, Arts, Physical Education, and Health (MAPEH). This will be the basic subject of the students and Science will only be taught in Grade 3, though integration of Science concepts will be done on other subjects such as Math, Health and Languages. Edukasyong Pangtahanan at Pangkabuhayan on Grade 4 and Technology and Livelihood Education and technical–vocational specializations will be taught starting Grade 7.
The additional 2 years will be about specializations giving the students 3 choices: academic (for those who will be pursuing College), technical-vocational (for those who’s planning to work as soon as they graduate senior high school) and sports and arts (for those who wants to be in Sports or arts). The choice will be based on the student’s interest and result of their assessment as well as the need of the community.
In other words, or in layman’s term, K-12 program will extend the student’s life 2 more years but promises to give more than that with programs targeting the needs of the students. Curriculum will be adjusted, making it easier to digest for the students and with the additional of two more years and specialized courses, students will get a better chance in getting a job.
In a more practical view, a student from a k10 program will have to finish elementary, high school and college in order to get a job., which is equal to 14 years (or more), where as with the K-12 program, they will only have to finish 12 years in order to get a job. For parents, that would be more practical as they will only have to spend 12 years in education and their child/ children can start helping them with the finances.
The program is very ideal in a very IDEAL situation but with the current situation of the education system here in the country, I think we are not yet ready for K-12 program.
Adding two more years to school year will require more classroom, more teachers and more teaching materials and all the said three are a rarity to our current education system. Lack of classrooms has always been the problem in our education system. Move such as class shifting or shortening of class is a clear proof of what education system lacks. There is just to many students but less classrooms and less teachers which prompted them to adopt the shorten class solution. In other areas of the countries, situation are worse, where different grade levels shares the same classroom and the same teacher!
From the situations mentioned above, how will the K-12 program be effective if students will only have 4 hours of learning, when in fact the very core of K-12 is to enhance the curriculum? Does it mean that it can address the shortened time, making the curriculum more adoptive of this scheme? I guess not. Or is it that K-12 program is answer to the shortened period? shortened period in terms of hours but longer period in terms of years?
Well, for me, K-12 program should only be implemented when the 3 major problems of the education system is solved. Allocation of budget for the implementation of K-12 program should be allotted instead to building of classrooms, improvement/ increase of the teacher’s benefits and salary as well as improvement of school facilities such as laboratories and utilities.
I am not against K-12 program per se but I only ask that before they implement the new program, fix first the basic needs of our education, the basic tools needed for teaching. To me, implementation of K-12 program this early is like shifting from pencil to ball pen when you don’t even have a paper to write on.