K to 12 and MTB-MLE: An Indispensable One-Stop Reference

Judging from comments or requests for information/clarification regarding the K to 12 and MTB-MLE programs — which reached a fever pitch the last few weeks as the new school year, 2012-2013, rolled in — there is quite a heap of confusion regarding the implementation of both programs. But rather than curse the darkness, let’s light some candles.

The apparent cause of the confusion among teachers and students alike appears to be that the appropriate info and implementation guidelines on both the K to 12 and MTB-MLE programs have not properly filtered down to those teachers out there in the field on whose shoulders rest the burden of implementing an ocean change in the basic education system.

The Programs and Policiessection of the Official Gazette under the Office of the President of the Philippines actually has a dedicated page for “The K to 12 Basic Education Program“:

I. The K to 12 Program

The K to 12 Program covers kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of junior high school, and two years of senior high school [SHS]) to provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship.

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[1] 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[2] in the world with a ten-year basic education cycle.

A. Salient Features

1. Universal Kindergarten Education. Kindergarten has now been integrated into the basic education system to ensure that all grade 1 students are ready for academic learning.[3] Universal kindergarten started in SY 2011–2012 with a budget of P2.3 billion and was made mandatory starting SY 2012–2013 through the signing of Republic Act No. 10157 entitled “An Act Institutionalizing the Kindergarten Education into the Basic Education System and Appropriating Funds Therefor” on January 20, 2012.[4]

In SY 2012–2013, an estimated 2.3 million five-year-old children will enter kindergarten, of which 1.7 million (74 percent) will be served by public schools.[5]

2. Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education. The mother tongue will be the medium of instruction from kindergarten to grade 3. This includes the following: Tagalog, Kapampangan, Pangasinense, Iloko, Bikol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray, Tausug, Maguindanaoan, Maranao, and Chabacano. Medium of instruction will be English and Filipino starting grade 4.[6]

3. Core Academic Areas.[7] The core academic areas include Math; Filipino; English; Araling Panlipunan; Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao; and Music, Arts, Physical Education, and Health (MAPEH). These are based on the College Readiness Standards of the Commission on Higher Education and are equivalent to the courses offered under the General Education Curriculum of Higher Education Institutions.

Science will be taught in grade 3, but its concepts will be integrated in other subjects like Health (under MAPEH), Math, and Languages in grades 1 and 2. Edukasyong Pangtahanan at Pangkabuhayan will be taught starting in grade 4. Technology and Livelihood Education and technical–vocational specializations, consistent with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority training regulations, will start in grade 7.

4. Specializations. The additional two years (grades 11 and 12) or SHS will allow students to choose among academic, technical–vocational, or sports and arts tracks depending on their interest, the community needs, and the results of their skills assessment. The SHS will allow mastery of core competencies for lifelong learning and preparedness for work, higher education, middle-level skills development, or entrepreneurship.[8]

B. Implementation and Transition Management

Program implementation will be in phases starting this June for SY 2012–2013. Grade 1 entrants in SY 2012–2013 will be the first batch to fully undergo the program, and incoming first-year high school students (or grade 7) in SY 2012–2013 will be the first to undergo the junior high school curriculum.[9] To prepare teachers for the new curriculum, a nationwide summer training program for about 140,000 grades 1 and 7 public school teachers will be held in May. The Department of Education (DepEd) is also working with various private school associations to cover teachers in private schools.[10] To facilitate the transition from the existing ten-year basic education to 12 years, the DepEd will also implement the SHS Readiness Assessment[11] and K to 12 Modeling.[12]

C. Social Benefits of the Program[13]

The perceived benefits of the program include: i) placing the Philippine education system at par with international standards, following the Washington Accord and the Bologna Accord; and ii) contributing to the development of a better educated society capable of pursuing productive employment, entrepreneurship, or higher education disciplines.

D. Ensuring Sustainability of the Program[14]

Enhancing the basic education curriculum and increasing the number of years for basic education was adopted as a Common Legislative Agenda during the February 28, 2011 Legislative–Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting. The administration-supported bills that aim to increase the number of years for basic education are Senate Bill 2713 (Recto), House Bill (HB) 4219 (Belmonte), and HB 4199 (Escudero). These bills are pending at the Committee Level.

E. Curriculum

Click on the following links to access the curriculum guides (PDF files):

II. Government Interventions to Address Basic Education Input Gaps.[15]

The DepEd budget was increased by 15 percent from P207 billion in 2011 to P238.8 billion in 2012, which is being utilized to address the basic education input gaps, among others.

A. Classrooms

As of January 27, 2012, the following are the government’s accomplishments on classroom construction:

B. Teachers

As of February 29, 2012, 94.86 percent of the 10,000 CY 2011 new teaching positions[16] approved by the Department of Budget and Management has been filled. To fast-track the construction of classrooms, the Public-Private Partnership for School Infrastructure Project will be implemented from July 2012 to July 2013 with a project cost of P9.8 billion. A total of 9,332 classrooms will be constructed in 2,262 elementary and secondary schools in three pre-identified regions (I, III, and IV-A) with the highest classroom shortages.

C. Toilets

Between 2010 and 2011, 978 of the targeted 1,396 toilets have been repaired.

D. Textbooks

With the CY 2010 and 2011 procurement, the DepEd will be able to achieve a 1:1 student to textbook ratio in SY 2012–2013. By SY 2012–2013, the DepEd will have a zero backlog on textbooks.

E. Seats

Between 2010 and 2011, 1,301,506 of the targeted 1,461,963 school seats have been procured.

III. Frequently Asked Questions on the following:

A. K to 12 Concerns

When will the K to 12 program be implemented?

  • Universal kindergarten started in SY 2011–2012.
  • The new curriculum for grade 1 and grade 7 (high school year 1) will be implemented in SY 2012–2013 and will progress in the succeeding school years.
  • Grade 11 (HS year 5) will be introduced in SY 2016–2017 and grade 12 (HS year 6) in SY 2017–2018.
  • The first batch of students to go through K to 12 will graduate in March 2018.

Where will the additional two years be added?

  • The two years will be added after the four-year high school program. This will be called senior high school.

Why are we implementing 12 years of basic education and not 11 years?

  • A 12-year program is found to be the adequate period for learning under basic education and is a requirement for recognition of professionals abroad (i.e., the Bologna and Washington Accords).
  • Other countries like Singapore have 11 years of compulsory education, but have 12 to 14 years of preuniversity education depending on the track.

Will this address the dropout problem?

  • The decongested curriculum will allow mastery of competencies and enable students to better cope with the lessons. This should partly address those who drop out because they cannot cope with schoolwork.
  • The curriculum will be learner-centered, enriched, and responsive to local needs. It will also allow students to choose electives/specializations that suit their interest. This should partly address those who drop out because of lack of personal interest in the curriculum offered.
  • DepEd will also continue to offer programs such as home schooling for elementary students and the dropout reduction program for high schools. These programs address the learning needs of marginalized students and learners at risk of dropping out.

Why is the K to 12 program better than the current program?

  • K to 12 offers a more balanced approach to learning that will enable children to acquire and master lifelong learning skills (as against a congested curriculum) for the 21st century.
  • The current program crams a 12-year curriculum into ten years, making it difficult for students to master the competencies.
  • It will help in freeing parents of the burden of having to spend for college just to make their children employable.
  • A student who completes K to 12 will be equipped with skills, competencies, and recognized certificates equivalent to a two-year college degree.

What would be the assurance that K to 12 graduates will be employed?

  • DepEd has entered into an agreement with business organizations and local and foreign chambers of commerce and industries that graduates of K to 12 will be considered for employment.
  • There will be a matching of competency requirements and standards so that 12-year basic education graduates will have the necessary skills needed by the labor market.

How will K to 12 help in ensuring employment for our graduates?

  • The K to 12 basic education curriculum will be sufficient to prepare students for work.
  • The curriculum will enable students to acquire Certificates of Competency (COCs) and National Certifications (NCs). This will be in accordance to TESDA training regulations. This will allow graduates to have middle-level skills and will offer them better opportunities to be gainfully employed or become entrepreneurs.
  • There will be a school–industry partnership for technical–vocational tracks to allow students to gain work experience while studying and offer the opportunity to be absorbed by the companies.

How will the K to 12 program help working students (college level)?

DepEd is in collaboration with CHED to provide more opportunities for working students to attend classes.
DepEd is working with the Department of Labor and Employment to ensure that jobs will be available to K to 12 graduates and that consideration will be given to working students.

How will the K to 12 program help students intending to pursue higher education?

  • The K to 12 basic education curriculum will be in accordance with the College Readiness Standards from CHED, which sets the skills and competencies needed of K to 12 graduates who wish to pursue higher education.
  • CHED will download its general education subjects to K to 12, ensuring mastery of core competencies for K to 12 graduates. This may lead to a reduction in the number of years of college courses, resulting to a decrease in educational expenses of households.

B. Transition Management and Private Schools

What will happen to colleges and universities during the two-year transition period (SY 2016–2017 and SY 2017–2018)?

  • DepEd is in the process of formulating a transition management plan, which involves the active participation of officials of educational institutions and organizations/associations of colleges and universities (public and private) for this two-year gap. The arrangements may include using private school facilities and teachers for senior high school.
  • DepEd is working closely with private educational institutions to address these transition management issues.

Will senior high schools be implemented in existing high schools or will new schools be built?

  • Existing schools will be used for the additional two-year program. DepEd is likewise in discussions with CHED, TESDA, and private schools to use their existing facilities during the transition period and beyond.

Is K to 12 required for private schools as well? Will the same implementation timeline apply to private schools?

  • Since private schools follow the DepEd curriculum, they will also be implementing the 12-year basic education program, but the implementation plan will differ. This will be discussed with the representatives of the private schools.
  • Private schools are active participants in developing the K to 12 Program.
  • Note that a number of private schools offer at least 12 years of basic education: two years of kindergarten, six or seven years of elementary, and four years of high school.

How will the college and technical–vocational courses be adjusted due to the K to 12 curriculum? Will adjustments be made in time for the first graduates of K to 12?

  • TESDA will download some of its basic technical competencies, and CHED will transfer the general education subjects to basic education.
  • CHED will be releasing its updated College Readiness Standards, which will be the basis for the competencies in grades 11 and 12 (HS years 5 and 6).
  • These activities will be completed before SY 2016–2017.

What is the role of the (a) barangays and (b) NGOs in K to 12?

  • They will help in information dissemination about the program; and
  • Take part in the K to 12 consultations to provide input on the implementation of the program.

C. Curriculum

What will happen to the curriculum? What subjects will be added and removed?

  • There will be a continuum from kinder to grade 12 (HS year 6), and to technical and higher education.
  • The current curriculum will be decongested to allow mastery of learning.
  • In grades 11 and 12 (HS years 5 and 6), core subjects like Math, Science, and English will be strengthened. Specializations in students’ areas of interest will also be offered.
  • Right now, a technical working group has formulated the new curriculum framework, standards, and competencies for K to 12. Experts from CHED, TESDA, and other stakeholders are part of this working group. After this, the changes in terms of subjects added, removed, and enhanced will be clearer.

What specializations will be offered in senior high school?

  • The specializations to be offered include academics, middle-level skills development, sports and arts, and entrepreneurship. In general, specializations will either be college preparatory, immediate work/career readiness, or a combination of both.
  • Specializations will also be guided by local needs and conditions. For example, schools serving farming or fishing communities will offer agriculture- or fishery-related specializations. Schools located in manufacturing zones will have technical courses relevant to the sector, and so will schools in the vicinity of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry. Science high schools will continue to provide higher degrees of science competencies, as well as the arts.

Will students choose specializations or will this be determined by assessment?

  • Students will undergo several assessments to determine their interests and strengths. These will include an aptitude test, a career assessment exam, and an occupational interest inventory for high schools, and should help students decide on their specialization.

For senior high school, what will happen if majority of our students want to specialize in agriculture and only one is interested to take math or academics? How will this be accommodated?

  • This is an extreme situation.
  • The areas of specialization will be offered according to the resources available in a locality and the needs of students.

What will happen to special schools such as science high schools, high schools for the arts, trade schools, etc.?

  • These schools will remain special schools with enriched curriculum for grades 7 to 12 (HS years 1 to 6).

What will happen to multigrade teaching?

  • Multigrade teaching will continue using the K to 12 curriculum.

ALS age requirement is only 16 years old for the HS equivalency test. Will this change to 18? Students might want to turn to ALS if they can save two years of formal school education costs.

  • The ALS is based on the existing ten-year basic education curriculum. When the new 12-year curriculum will be in place, ALS will likewise be revised.

D. Kindergarten

Is kindergarten a prerequisite for entering grade 1?

  • Yes. Republic Act No. 10157, or the Kindergarten Education Act, institutionalizes kindergarten as part of the basic education system and is compulsory for admission to grade 1.

Is there an overlap between the day care program of the LGUs and DepEd kindergarten?

  • There is no overlap. Day care centers of the LGUs take care of children aged 4 and below, whereas the DepEd kindergarten program is for five-year-old children.

Should schools now prepare permanent records for kindergarten students?

  • Yes. Although the assessment on readiness skills of students in kindergarten is not academically driven, a good measure of the child’s ability to cope with formal schooling is needed for future learning interventions.

Who is in charge of kindergarten teacher compensation? The LGU o DepEd?

  • DepEd is the main agency that employs and pays kindergarten teachers.
  • There are LGUs that help in the kindergarten program and provide honoraria for kindergarten teachers.

When will the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) be implemented?

  • The MTB-MLE program will be implemented nationwide this coming June, in SY 2012–2013.
  • Nine hundred twenty-one schools, including those for children of indigenous people, have piloted the MTB-MLE. The implementation of MTB-MLE will benefit from the experience of these 921 schools.
  • Twelve mother tongue languages shall be offered as a learning area and utilized as a language of instruction starting SY 2012–2013. These are Tagalog, Kapampangan, Pangasinense, Iloko, Bikol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray, Tausug, Maguindanaoan, Maranao, and Chabacano.

Which mother tongue will be used in multicultural areas?

  • The lingua franca in the area shall be used as the medium of instruction.
  • The principle of MTB-MLE is to use the language that learners are most comfortable and familiar with.

E. Teachers

Will teachers be burdened by additional teaching load due to the K to 12 Program?

  • There will be no additional workload due to the K to 12 Program. The Magna Carta for Public School Teachers provides that teachers should only teach up to six hours a day.
  • The decongested K to 12 curriculum will allow teachers to master the contents and competencies that they will develop among the students, and will enable them to focus on their areas of expertise.

Will teacher salary increase as a result of the K to 12 Program?

  • The K to 12 Program will not result in teacher salary increase because there will be no additional teaching load or additional teaching hours.
  • Salary increases for other reasons, such as the Salary Standardization Law, inflation, and promotion, may apply.

How will teachers be prepared for the K to 12 Program?

  • Teachers will be given sufficient in-service training to implement this program. The preservice training for aspiring teachers will also be modified to conform to the requirements of the program.
  • Training of national trainers for grades 1 to 7 will be on April 23–29, 2012.
  • Training of grades 1 and 7 teachers will be conducted at the regional and division levels for the whole month of May 2012.

Who will be the teachers for senior high school? What will be their qualifications?

  • Additional special teachers will be hired and existing teachers will be trained to teach core academic subjects and electives that will be offered in grades 11 and 12 (HS years 5 and 6).
  • DepEd is exploring the possibility of utilizing existing technical and higher education teachers to teach grades 11 and 12 (HS year 5 and 6), especially during the transition period.
  • Teacher education institutions will also adjust its preservice programs to align it with the needs of the education sector.

F. Budget

How close is DepEd in addressing the resource gaps (i.e., classroom, teachers)?

  • By this SY, 2012–2013, we will close two of the five resource gaps: seats and textbooks.
  • We have targeted to close the other resource gaps in the next few years.
  • Aside from increasing the budget of DepEd, we are also enjoying support from local governments, private partners, and donor agencies.

DepEd lacks resources to address its current input shortages. With K to 12 and its added resource needs, how will this be addressed?

  • One scheme is to front-load all needed capital investments, take a grant or loan from government and private banks based on annual budget, and pay the amortization yearly.
  • We also have the support of local government units and private partners in terms of infrastructure.
    • Private partners can donate through our Adopt-a-School program that provides them a 150 percent tax rebate for their contribution.
    • Individuals and institutions can take part in the TEN Moves! Campaign to build 10,000 classrooms by donating P10 per day for ten months.
    • LGUs can follow the front-loading scheme using their Special Education Fund as collateral and the allocation as amortization.
    • We have enough time to provide the additional classrooms, teachers, and instructional materials since they will be needed beginning in SY 2016–2017.
  • For teacher items, LGUs also help by hiring qualified teachers for our public schools and paying honoraria for them.

How about the additional cost to parents?

  • Grades 11 and 12 (HS years 5 and 6) will be offered for free in public schools.
  • K to 12 graduates will have higher earning potential as they will be more competent and skilled.
  • As a result in the K to 12 Program, CHED is exploring the possibility of decreasing the number of years of certain courses in college.
  • K to 12 graduates will have national certification from TESDA, which will enable them to have higher employment opportunities.

How much will the K to 12 Program cost the government?

  • The House-approved budget for 2012 is P238.8 billion, including P2.4 billion for kinder. For 2016, the introduction of grade 11 (HS year 5) has a preliminary estimated cost of P38 billion, assuming all costs are borne by the government (Medium-Term Spending Plan for Basic Education, 2011).
  • DepEd is targeting to involve other stakeholders to generate additional financial resources.

Won’t this be another avenue for corruption? How can you ensure that funds will be released and used properly?

  • DepEd fully supports the Aquino administration’s drive against corruption.
  • We will regularly package and disseminate information on agency budgets, bidding and procurement documents, and SALNs of senior government officials, to ensure transparency and accountability.
  • It is also in our best interest to ensure that funds and resources are not lost to corruption.

G. ARMM Concerns

Will the K to 12 Program be applicable in ARMM? What will happen to the Madrasah curriculum in ARMM?

  • The K to 12 curriculum will be flexible enough to accommodate local conditions and culture in Mindanao. The Madrasah curriculum is a component of the K to 12 Program.

What is the policy of DepEd to reduce the occurrence of teacher kidnapping in ARMM?

  • We will be organizing an Education Summit for ARMM to discuss the various concerns in Mindanao, including teacher kidnapping.
  • Our initial discussions with ARMM explore assigning Muslim teachers to ARMM schools.

Given the situation in the conflict areas, is it possible to make the non-eligible natives (Muslim) full-pledged teachers?

  • This will be discussed with the Civil Service Commission and the Professional Regulation Commission.

(This page was last updated on June 5, 2012. All information came from the Department of Education.)



[1] The Washington Accord prescribes 12 years of basic education as an entry to recognition of engineering professionals. The Bologna Accord requires 12 years of education for university admission and practice of profession in European countries. (Source: Dir. Anna Cristina M. Ganzon, Office of the Secretary, DepEd, Vetted Brief for the K to 12 Launch, April 20, 2012.)

[2] From the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s 151 member countries, Djibouti and Angola are the other two countries that retain a ten-year pre-university education system. (Source: DepEd, Discussion Paper on the Enhanced K to 12 Basic Education Program, October 5, 2010.)

[3] DepEd, Executive Summary: K to 12 Basic Education Curriculum, undated.

[4] Dir. Ganzon, Vetted Brief for the K to 12 Launch, April 20, 2012.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Secretary Armin A. Luistro, DepEd, Opening Remarks for the Formal Launch of the K to 12 Program, April 18, 2012.

[11] The SHS Readiness Assessment determines the capacity of all educational institutions to adapt to the program and ascertain that it will be adequate for the current industry demand and employment opportunities. (Source: Dir. Ganzon, Vetted Brief for the K to 12 Launch, April 20, 2012.) The SHS Readiness Assessment shall be implemented from June to July 2012. (Source: Mr. Kenneth Tirado, Executive Assistant IV, Head of Communications Unit, DepEd, April 20, 2012.)

[12] The K to 12 Modeling introduces SHS to selected schools to simulate the program before its nationwide implementation in SY 2016–2017. (Source: Dir. Ganzon, Vetted Brief for the K to 12 Launch, April 20, 2012.) The K to 12 Modeling shall be implemented in June 2012. (Source: Mr. Tirado, April 20, 2012.)

[13] DepEd, Discussion Paper, October 5, 2010.

[14] Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, Status of the LEDAC Common Legislative Agenda, as of March 21, 2012.

[15] Dir. Ganzon, Vetted Brief for the K to 12 Launch, April 20, 2012.

[16] The deployment and hiring of the CY 2011 teachers was in accordance with the revised flowchart prescribed by DepEd Order No. 9, s. 2011, which streamlined the process of hiring for teachers. (Source: Dir. Ganzon, Vetted Brief for the K to 12 Launch, April 20, 2012.)

One thought on “K to 12 and MTB-MLE: An Indispensable One-Stop Reference

  1. Am still too skeptical on this design, I don’t believe that the demand for going to k-12 is based on international problems, there must be something inside in this as of now I cannot put it in public. am still doing my personal research on this. There is a pressure on our government and this pressure bring along with a billion of dollars.

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