WHY I AM OPPOSED TO K+12

By Dr. Abraham I. Felipe
Former Deputy Minister of Education

Three reasons:

  1. The argument for K+12 is not rational. Those in favor of K+12 say that the existing basic education system produces inferior students. Proof: the TIMMS results. The TIMMS reported in an international comparison that Filipino Grade 4 pupils were among the worst of Grade 4 pupils from some forty (40) other countries; and so with Filipino second year high school students when compared with their equivalent grade levels (i.e., grade 8). The K+12 conclusion: lengthen the Philippine system to twelve (12) years instead of the present ten (10). The main purpose of K+12 is to make our basic education competitive.
  • This conclusion looks rational but is really not. The rational reaction would be to improve Grade 4 and the second year of high school if we want them competitive.
  • If after lengthening our system to twelve (12) it is again found that our 12th grade is not comparable to the others’ 12th grade, will it be rational to lengthen our system some more?
  1. The “other purpose” of K+12 is unjust. By the “other purpose” I refer to the intentions of making our high school graduates competitive for college admission, our college graduates competitive for graduate school admission, and our college graduates competitive in the job market. These intentions are desirable. A longer basic education hopes to qualify them better. But at whose cost? Who will pay for them to be more qualified? The answer: the great majority of Filipinos who will never apply for college or graduate school admission in a foreign university or for professional work in a foreign corporation: these are the fishermen, the farmers, the market vendors, the ordinary Filipinos, the slum dwellers including those living under bridges. They will shoulder the costs of the longer education of those select few.
  • As of now, our 10-year basic education has been sufficient for Filipino seamen who work the seas, the Filipino caregivers, the call center operators, the household workers, and many others.
  • Why not make those who will benefit from their graduate education and foreign professional jobs, pay instead for the prior education they need?
  1. So far, the appeal to making basic education twelve (12) years is immature. Supporters appeal that the Philippines is only one of a few countries with ten (10) years of basic education. Granted. But the implication of this is unclear. Consider:
  • Among the top countries in the TIMMS are countries with only six (6) years of elementary schooling just like the Philippines,
  • All thirteen (13) countries in the TIMMS with only three years of basic high school programs did significantly better than the Philippines, and
  • There are countries with twelve (12) years of basic education (as proposed by the K+12) that performed as badly as the Philippines.

My other beliefs. Some of the K+12 initiatives would be useful.

  1. If properly handled, K (universal kindergarten) will be a positive contribution.
  2. The initiative to include job preparation in basic education will have positive effects.
  3. The mother-tongue initiative will account for most of the positive contributions of K+12. However, be aware that the present twelve (12) languages of first instruction as recommended by DepEd are not the same as “mother tongue”. Suggestion: why not consult seriously the experts on how to identify the “mother tongue” properly instead of using past practices or intuition?

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