THE K-to-12 reform program which adds two years of basic education, according to the Department of Education (DepEd), will make young Filipino learners become more competitive academically vis-a-vis their foreign counterparts.
Tonisito Umali, DepEd assistant secretary for legal and legislative affairs, said that under the K-to-12 curriculum, public school children are required to take at least one-year of pre-school education before entering Grade 1.
“The previous basic education cycle which is for 10-years is a cycle where we had a curriculum basically designed to be taught in 13 to 14 years, but we were teaching it only for 10 years. But we added two more years in senior high school and made kindergarten a one-year pre-school education requirement prior to entering elementary or Grade 1,” Umali said.
To make sure that students are better equipped with the needed skills and knowledge, Umali said the education department is decongesting the previous curriculum to help young learners easily absorb the subjects being taught them.
“By decongesting the curriculum, we are helping our learners, our students to absorb the subjects being taught to them in all year levels. By saying that we are helping them to absorb more because there will be more hours to teach what was being previously taught only in 10 years – now it is 13 years in basic education; We could now say that there is now more opportunity to our children to master the basic competencies that needs to be learned, that is required to be learned in elementary and high school. In that sense, we could now say that our students are being more competitive,” he said.
Umali added: “If you make our junior high school graduates compete, for example, even in the public schools with private schools they will be more competitive. Our senior high school students, if you will make them compete with other senior high school students in other schools, will be definitely more competitive compared to before our fourth year high school, only aged 15 years old and 16 years old after going through 10 years of basic education will compete with another fourth year high school students in Singapore, Malaysia, and Japan with around 17 to 18 years of age completed 12 to 10 years of basic education obviously they will be more competitive.”
Umali said the new curriculum was designed to teach students the basic competencies that are required to have a job in case they do not intend to proceed to college and to go into business.
“If they [students]will proceed to college they will have the basic competencies that they didn’t have before under the 10-year basic education cycle. We teach them what needs to be learned,” he said.
“We revised our TLE curriculum. We are now teaching subjects that used to be taught in college. Now in senior high school ibinababa na natin ‘yan. We are now offering electives. In the general education component meron pa ring basic English dun yun ibababa na natin yun sa senior high school. When we talk about Math 101, Algebra, for example, being taught, college Algebra will now be taught in Grade 11 and 12,” the DepEd official added.
With the K-to-12 curriculum, junior and senior high students who want to take technical and vocational (tech voc) track will have to take the tech voc elective courses without even going to a tech voc school, Umali said.
“When you enter our tech voc colleges during the oldest system but now they will be taught in our junior and senior high school. Assuming they pass the examinations required by Tesda a certificate of competencies level 1 for junior high school up to level 2 for senior high school which they will never get if we don’t have K-to-12 , if we don’t revised our curriculum,” Umali said.
“With our certificate of competencies, you may be a call center agent, computer technician, automotive technician. If they want to take the academic track that they want to be lawyer, doctor, journalist, scientist, physicist, etc. They will be more competitive because we will teach them more math subjects and electives. They will be more competitive if they pursue their course in pre-medicine because they will have more science subjects aligned to on what they want to be when they finished college,” he said, adding that senior high school graduates could land a job without being required to finish college because they already have the competencies.
Umali said the education department has also conducted a school mapping to find out what are the industries involved in a particular region so that they will align the curriculum based on local needs.
“By aligning our curriculum and by making it relevant to the industries within the region, we are now going to address or resolve unemployment. If you are in Laguna, let us say, be in a computer factory there, the schools there will teach whatever competencies that they require for the students to land a job,” he said.
Umali also denied that the K-to-12 education was designed to create cheaper and exploitable labor, as claimed by some militant groups.
“This is not true. We respect the view of the other sectors of the society saying that the K-to-12 aims to produce cheaper and exploitable labor. How will you say that a government trying to prepare our students to enter the world of work, the world of business, even the world of college, even before they enter college being competitive being employable and equate that to producing more cheaper and exploitable labor?” Umali asked.
Umali said critics of the K-to-12 program should view this as empowering students.
“We believe that if these students will be employable then once they were employed they will now be more empowered, they will now have the financial capability to proceed to college,” he said.
Out of the 100 students who will graduate in high school without K-to-12, only 53 will proceed to college, according to Umali. And out of the 53 students who will proceed to college, only one-half of them will actually complete college, he added.
“With K-to-12, the 47 students who will not proceed to college will still finish high school. Once they are employed not only the possibility of them proceeding to college becomes greater but also the possibility of helping their siblings,” Umali said.
The DepEd chief also denied that K-to-12 education, which adds two years of basic education, is an added burden to students, teachers and parents.
“For those who do not want to enrol their kids in the private school, libre yan sa public school,” he said.
“So hindi ito added burden sa mga parents na nagpapaaral ng kanilang mga anak sa public school. Kung meron man added burden ‘yun lang naman yung baon eh kaunti lang naman ‘yan adjustment,” the DepEd official added.