K-12 program, one step at a time
Teacher III, Jalandoni Memorial National High School La Paz, Iloilo City
DESPITE its good intentions to cope with international standards and the ASEAN economic integration process, there has been a clamor from the academe and policymakers in the country that the government’s K-12 program has been rushed.
Many critics of the program argue that the country and the state of our education system itself is not even prepared for such a move, insisting that such structural changes need many years of preparation, faculty adjustment, and proper budget allocation.
According to the 2013 Enhanced Basic Education Act or RA 10533, the country will now have the same number of basic education attendance years with the rest of the world except for African states, Angola and Djibouti. This adds up two years more of secondary education to the existing four-year curriculum, a component which will be referred to as Senior High School. But this swift move is actually easier said than done.
The additional two years of high school will supposedly give students special vocational and technical skills that the country’s labor needs along with the gradual integration of TESDA National Certificates. They will be able to choose strands ranging from Academic, Technical-Vocational-Livelihood, Sports, and Arts and Design. It will also enhance the country’s secondary school. But the big question is, how financially prepared
are parents of middle- and low-income families to pay for the additional tuition fees? Is it not a burden for poor families who already struggle to make ends meet to add two more years of payments for schooling? Is the government willing to provide more incentives for scholarships schemes throughout the country? And what will happen to the 25,000 college level teaching and non-teaching staff who have been held at bay because of this reform?
How prepared is the academe in both private and public schools? How much are the expenses of such a move with regards to equipment upgrading and acquisition, technical skills and expertise of the faculty that will teach at the senior
high school level? Will there a nationwide- scale monitoring body in place to assess the implementation and progression of this program?
In 2010, a report from the Official Gazette of the Philippines revealed that the country’s education system was facing the following major problems: *66,800 classroom shortage *145,827 teacher item shortage *61.7 million textbook shortage *2,573,212 chair shortage Under the Aquino administration, most of these shortages have been addressed between 2012 and 2014 but fell short in meeting the target to produce enough teachers. With 128,105 teachers hired as of Dec. 31, 2014, the government
has promised to fill in 39,066 vacancies by 2016. This alone already justifies the argument that the curriculum adjustment has been somewhat rushed.
We cannot talk much about the eventual outcome of this educational policy experiment but its progression or failure is one yet to be seen in the following years from now. Should this change of curriculum prove to be successful with the proper policy moves and implementation schemes in place, then credit must be given to the Department of Education and to wherever else credit is due but it has certainly brushed the system like a whirlwind leaving many of us clueless about the future for now./