Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"K to 12", K or Not?

A good system of education is one of the important foundations of a progressive country. A literate populace provides strong manpower that is usually translated into a healthy economy. The Philippines, for the longest time, takes pride of being one of the most literate countries in the world.  This explains why our country is one of the largest providers of professionals and laborers around the globe.  But this does not mean that we do not have any problem on our education system.

Obviously, we have and there are lots of them. The lack of classrooms, chairs and books are just among them. Add the shortage in the number of teachers to that and you get the formula to having a steadily decreasing quality of education.

And to address these problems, the Department of Educationor DepEd , the government’s education arm introduces this system that they call “K to 12” which simply means Kindergarten plus 12 years of primary and secondary education. Before it was in place, there are only 10 years of combined years for elementary and high school. 

According to our DepEd officials, one of the main reasons that they decided to introduce K to 12 in our country is that we are the only country left especially in the Southeast Asia that has only 10 years of basic education. And with that, we are being left behind. They think that this will help improving the quality of education in our country.

K to 12 for them is meant to be an answer to the major problems in education. But if we check on the most obvious issues (i.e. shortage of teachers, lack of classrooms, chairs and books) isn’t it adding up 2 years just aggravates these problems?

I would not want to judge the system totally as I’m sure that there are a lot of other good reasons by the DepEd to put the K to 12 system in place. But I would like to share my analysis and suggestions that might help in improving this new system. And if some lawmaker or DepEd official might stumble upon this blog, I hope they can consider some suggestions from here.

I provided here some key issues that the DepEd is targeting thru K to 12.
           a.  Improving the competitiveness of students.

Advantages – With the added years, the curriculum and years of teaching will be lengthened. Teachers will have more time to teach and focus on their specific subjects. Additional subjects will also be introduced that will add value to the students even before they enter college. 

Disadvantages – Unless the lack of resources is addressed, the added 2 years will be a burden rather than a blessing both to the schools and the students. With classrooms already crowded, where will the schools conduct classes for the additional levels? And where would they get the teachers to do the job amidst the shortage? And let’s also remember that there are some numbers of students who cannot even finish the previous length of basic education which was only 10 years due to financial problems. Imagine what the added 2 years would do to them.

My suggestion – They should first focus on each issue one by one. More than the DepEd budget, our lawmakers should provide larger chunk of their pork barrel in building of classrooms and other facilities. The local government should also do their research and feasibility studies to address the problem in school resources. Then the output of this study will be the basis of a long term program targeting, for example a 50 student per classroom or 1 book per student status.

Then on the shortage of teachers, why can’t the government create a separate scholarship program for teachers just like what they do with the DOST SEI program, this time the DepEd being the stakeholder of the program. Thru this, the government will provide budget subsidizing education that includes tuition fees and necessary allowances for all aspiring teachers. With this program, it will encourage more of our students to take up education in college and will also address unemployment rate due to mismatches of skills with the needed manpower in our country.

Then lastly, increase the salary of our teachers.

          b.  Work will be available for our students after K+12 even without entering college.

Advantages – Having partnered with CHED and TESDA, the necessary knowledge and skills will be injected in the K to 12 curriculums. This can address shortage on manpower needed by some industries that do not require college degree. 

Disadvantages – As mentioned earlier, some students cannot even finish the current 10 years of basic education.  And also, we can’t say that the current program is not enough preparation for college as it still produces good graduates who performs well in their tertiary education and succeeds later in career. And by adding 2 more years, this will also add burden to those who seemed not in a need for the added years for their preparation to college.

My Suggestion – Provide options. Like for those who can’t afford going to college after the initial 10 years of basic education can have the +2 years to learn the skills and needed expertise to land them on those jobs that does not require a college degree. And if they want to pursue college education after that, they will be free to do so. 

Or, we can have assessment examinations on students in the fourth year high school regarding their preparedness of entry to college. Actually, we’re already doing it thru the NSAT and before with NCEE. It’s just a matter of customizing it to what this program needs. Those who will pass the exams can go to college and those who are not will be required to undergo this 2 years. Or it can be just a year and after that, another exam will be taken. And if still they are not able to pass, then another year will be added. And these added years required for them will not be wasted even if they are not able to reach college level as it will also include trainings on technical skills which will be suited for them to get jobs after school.

                To summarize it, it’s just like any national concern that we have. It does not necessarily mean that if the other countries are doing it, we should also do the same. We also need to check first if we have the same level of readiness with them for us to apply the same system that they are already using. The case for them may not be the same for us and we might need tailor-made programs to match what our country needs.  In the end, we know ourselves more than anybody else and we are the most capable persons to know what’s good for us and what is not.

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  1. I just think our country is not yet ready for the additional two years. We should improve on the quality instead of the quantity.

    1. Agree very much on the quality part. Thanks Michy :)

  2. I don't think we are ready for this, adding 2 more years on the prior 10 years (of elementary and high school) does not guaranty an improved quality of education. There are far too many social issues that the government must address rather than adding 2 years of more burden to our people.

    1. Yup. it's just a matter of priority. thanks for dropping by. :)

  3. correction: we are the last in asia that has 10 years of basic education. the other 2 countries are in africa.

    we are all saying that we are not ready to this and that. why don't we give it a try? let us support this and if this doesn't work, then we try another options.

    as for the lack of classrooms, i think the govt is really working hard for it. the fact is our govt doesn't have enough money. it needs help from the private sector. good thing the private sector started helping these past few years and it is turning out well. im not sure the exact figure but the shortage has been reduced dramatically.

    one at a time. start with classrooms, then books, teacher's salary, mass hiring of teachers, etc. (not in exact priority). i like dick gordon's suggestion last election. why not the govt charge the cellphone companies and cellphone users a certain percentage for every sms sent? i.e. 1 centavo per sms. in this way, 200M a month is peanuts. classroom shortage solved. books? as per Dick, the govt can buy an ipad (or a less expensive equivalent) for every student. it can save a LOT instead of purchasing books. Book purchase corruption will also be eliminated.

    1. Thanks for the correction pre. Last in Asia na pala, not just in SEA.

      Like you, I also wanted to see what will happen if we try applying this in our system and I'm sure that it will have its labor pains. And you're right with the "one at a time" statement. Like what I also mentioned above, we should focus on each issue one by one until everything is settled.

      I just don't like the idea of having it applied full blown like how I understood DepEd's statements. Parang lalabas kasi na guinea pigs yung mga bata ngayon. It's like one generation under an experiment of the government. Ang problema pa nga ngayon, inapply na agad nila sa elementary (Grade 7) pero yung mismong mga teachers na magtuturo, hindi pa alam kung ano ang curriculum nila. Trainings for them were done 2 months before the start of classes, and wala pa ata sa 50% ng supposedly grade 7 teachers ang nabigyan ng trainings. Baka wala pa nga sa 20%.

      Much better kung hinay hinay lang sana. Marami namang options na puede talagang pagpilian at iapply ng hindi isang bagsakan lang. Thanks!

  4. There are a lot of problems withe the education system but I doubt even if they blow their budget concentrating on one, it won't get fixed. Their strategy for solving problems seems to be adding layers of solutions equally along different problems.
    I've seen the current curriculum and the K+12. It feels roomier. In any case, the additional two years looks like junior college in the states with the skills training included in the curriculum. The difference is that because it's public, DepEd pays for it and you get it for free. There's lapses in budget but we should take the chance. I heard on twitter that a senior HS is being launched today in Lipa and it's a coffee academy sounds like the free skills training you were talking about. I remember reading the speeches of the sec and the president on the Gazette (obviously im a close follower of the program) that it's very unfortunate that we need college degrees to be gainfully employed. I think this is better and opens a whole lot of possibilities. If the government wants to invest in it and we don't see our taxes going anywhere else anyway, go lang!

    1. Thanks for sharing your knowledge on this topic. There was also someone who informed me about a school which is already implementing it on which in the additional 2 years, they use it to provide vocational/technical course. Alternative kasi ito sa college and marami ding opportunities lalo sa labas ng bansa ang inooffer para sa mga skilled personnels na galing sa mga ganitong programa.

  5. This won't make students more prepared for the future. Everything is moving fast. When I was in HS & college, they were preparing us for the current situation back then, but a lot of things has changed and are changing fast.. I'm only so glad that my parents gave me a solid framework. They thought me how to be independent, to ask questions, to solve problems, and to deal with change.

    The current education system is still designed para maging trabahador tayo, and they're only adding 2 more years to the same system that is not working.

    Dapat baguhin na ang curriculum and style of teaching. Dapat maturuan ang mga bata ng skills that will make them people who can face the unknown, kasi that's what the future is. More hands on, more problem solving, more exercises that can help with EQ-development. Save SPECIFIC skills training for college and vocational schools.

    Honestly though, I'm no longer sold on conventional schooling, so it's not the additional 2 years that's bothering me.

    1. The conventional schooling topic is a long one. But I have that mindset nowadays as well. They can try to look outside the box. :)



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