Who’s afraid of ‘K to 12’?

DepEd Sec. Armin Luistro

Less than a week ago, I had the privilege of having a conversation with a prominent leader in the academe. I told him we needed more immediate improvement in these areas: (1) curriculum improvements, (2) teacher re-training or repurposing, and (3) adequate infrastructure. We need improvements in these areas more than lengthening the education cycle to K+12 which is expensive but whose outcome is at best uncertain…

I pointed out that a decade ago, a well-known superintendent of schools in the US made the observation about why US students (who are already on the K+12 system) performed poorly in TIMSS because of a weak curriculum: there were just too many things covered in the curriculum but not mastered. In other words, the curriculum is spread too thin over the given time as contrasted to the Japanese who cover fewer areas of learning but are required some level of mastery of each subject.
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“That’s just it,” this guy I was having a conversation with said. “They (DepEd) want to rush the curriculum for grade 1 and kindergarten so that they can implement the same nationwide this coming school year. Rush the materials. Rush the training. I hear (DepEd Secretary) Luistro say that let’s not mind the quality, let’s just get the program going.”
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He continued: “I’m glad that you brought this matter up. More than a year ago, I was already telling our people to focus on curriculum development for all the subjects in pre-school and grade 1. But no one listened. Now we are caught in a bind, because we do not have an alternative curriculum to give to DepEd. And also to stakeholders.”
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I said that was a prescription for disaster.
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“And we would like the disaster to happen, just to prove a point,” he said. “Two days ago, we had a long talk with the original architect of the 10 point agenda for basic education of Pinoy (Pres. Benigno Aquino) and he says that many of the key measures that they were recommending were being totally ignored by Luistro and his ilk. They even identified who in DepEd could be trusted and who couldn’t. Lo and behold, those who told them to watch out for, are the same people who are in the K-12 saddle.”

Being that he was one of the movers and shakers in pushing for DepEd Order No. 74 s. 2009 which institutionalizes MTBMLE in the earlier years of school, I inquired about DO 90 which funds the implementation of MTBMLE in some selected pilot schools, he said: “These are MTBMLE schools only on paper…”

Earlier in the conversation he said, “I am very disappointed about the K-12 curriculum and how MTBMLE is being integrated into this.”

Quite a revelation that was. However, worried that a conniption might overtake either of us, we ended the conversation, albeit, abruptly.

Quo vadis?

__________

Who’s afraid of ‘K to 12’?

By January 22nd, 2012

At the recent K to 12 (K-12) Basic Education Program National Summit held at Miriam College, top educators sought to answer frequently asked questions on the new elementary and secondary curricula that would mean an additional two years of study.

Organized by the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), the summit discussed funding and classroom requirements, among other issues, for the two extra years.

Aside from making kindergarten a regular feature of all public schools, K-12 also means adding Grade 7 beginning this June.

The summit was meant to explain the K-12 program to parents and pupils in its 1,345 member-schools, and other groups to be affected by the change.

The new curriculum is in compliance with the education policy of President Aquino to improve the quality of public education by adding two more years of basic education.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro, FSC, said education was No. 1 in the President’s campaign agenda.

He pointed out that those who were able to pay for 14 years of schooling before university were getting into the best schools and getting the best jobs after graduation.

CEAP and Adamson University president Fr. Gregorio Banaga, CM, said the summit was not the first time the association had tackled the program.

CEAP sat in the K-12 Steering Committee and, with the Coordinating Council for Private Education Associations (Cocopea), organized regional consultations. Issues, concerns and recommendations of the private education sector were then submitted to DepEd.

Member schools report

Sr. Marissa Viri, RVM, chairperson of the RVM Education Ministry Commission, showed how the 50 schools of her congregation had been adjusting their curriculum to K-12 in terms of modules, activities, timetable, etc.

She said they wanted to make sure parents, students, businessmen, future employers and all other stakeholders fully understood K-12.

Fr. Ely Rafael Fuentes, superintendent of Catholic schools in Jaro, Iloilo, said they included heads of seminaries in consultation sessions. They also asked graduates about job opportunities and potential employers in the region about manpower needs.

Dr. Edizon Fermin, the first male high school principal of Miriam College, said many private schools in the country already had Grade 7 and various levels of preschool before kindergarten and grade school. In this sense, they were K-12 ready.

On the question of whether K-12 was here to stay, Luistro said: “My best answer is understandable to those with the Catholic faith. K-12 is like the reign of God. It is here but not yet here. We have an opportunity and what we feel are the most critical answers at this point. They are neither rigid nor perfect.”

Saying not one version of K-12 would fit all, Luistro stressed collaboration and communication with all stakeholders.

Education Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali, head of the Technical Working Group (TWG) on Transition Management, said, “In introducing senior high school, we must partner with other education stakeholders.”

He cited various possibilities for implementation. Higher education institutions (HEIs), private high schools and technical/vocational schools could fully implement and manage Grades 11-12. DepEd could lease facilities of HEIs, private high schools and tech/voc schools. A combination of both was another option.

Umali presented two programs for transition management. Senior high school could be introduced in selected institutions ahead of the planned nationwide implementation in 2016-2017. Other schools could be assessed for readiness to offer senior high school before the target date.

Affordable

As for the concern about cost, Education Undersecretary for Finance  Francis Varela assured summit participants both government and private schools could fund  K-12.

He explained: “In real terms the education budget has been increasing under President Aquino, and can meet the requirements for teachers, classrooms and finances. For fiscal year 2011, when the administration started the budget process, DepEd got P207.2 billion, or 2.2 percent of the GDP (gross domestic product); for 2012 the figures are P238 billion, also 2.2 percent of the GDP.”

Valera said the department intended to address both classroom and teacher requirements in two years.

But Varela also stressed that the benefits of the new program far outweighed costs. Among other things, the additional years of schooling would increase the earning potential of the graduate.

While a graduate of a four-year high school course would earn P19,876 annually, Varela said the graduate of a six-year course could earn P35,280, a difference of P15,404.

“Students who complete senior high school and then work will have better income opportunities and higher income streams—the cost (of) delayed employment will be offset by these higher income streams,” Varela said.

The additional two years of high school also meant a reduction in cost of schooling for graduates who would seek employment afterwards, as the additional years would be free, said Varela. Those graduates would have to pay if they enrolled in two years of college or post-secondary education.

For those seeking college degrees, Varela said it was expected the two additional high school years would mean higher tertiary education completion rates.

Education Undersecretary for Programs and Projects Yolanda Quijano, head of the TWG on Curriculum, gave an update on materials being prepared for the different learning areas, as well as learning resources like teachers’ guides, activity  packages, and  student modules.

Ongoing activities include the production of mother tongue learning resources in eight major languages, preparation of implementing guidelines, and finalization of the design for training of teachers and administrators.

In closing, Luistro enjoined the schools “not to forget street children, kariton kids, our indigenous peoples, and ‘students’ in jail.”

He asked everyone, “Let us maximize opportunities while designing responses to many challenges … We will have to own the program … to craft and look for answers ourselves.” #

2 thoughts on “Who’s afraid of ‘K to 12’?

  1. Can DepED effectively deliver quality education under the K-12 Curriculum when there is big shortage of classrooms for the kinder classes? Some classes are held on stage, in the barangay halls, some principals share their offices for kinder classes, etc.while others had constructed makeshifts with the help of barangay officials and the PTA.

  2. In a post elsewhere, I suggested that we shift the discussion to more effective teaching, richer curricula, more engaging learning and subject mastery by investing in technology that would help bring about these desired improvements rather than prolonging the educational cycle to 2 more years of essentially the same — which is just prolonging the agony, two more years for parents to “maghunos ng dili…..”

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