K-12 pro­gram, one step at a time

Teacher III, Ja­lan­doni Me­mo­rial Na­tional High School La Paz, Iloilo City

Panay News - - WORLD -  By Reina Jover Dem on­teverd e,

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./

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