• COMMENTARY

    Building a better future through K-to-12

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    AFRICAN-AMERICAN social reformer Frederick Douglass once said that it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. In a way, Douglass’ words could be associated with educating children.

    Teaching young children the rudiments of academics, morality and social responsibility will yield better results than inculcating these lessons when they are older and their attention can stray.

    As developed countries set higher standards in education, can Filipino children cope with the demands of a fast changing world? Can the future generation keep up with a society that demands more? Do they have the essential skills and knowledge that will make them at par with their foreign counterparts?

    They will, through the Education department’s K-to-12 program.

    The K-to-12 not only enhances the quality of education by adding two more years to secondary schooling, it also ensures that all five-year-olds will go to kindergarten. These changes are seen to improve the education system and make it at par with international standards. It is a way of bridging the gaps that hinder the Filipino youth from reaching the new criteria in being “globally competitive.”

    Republic Act (RA) 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 has shaken the Philippine educational system in a good way. By ditching the 10-year basic education, this life-changing law enabled the Philippines to improve its curriculum to ensure that high school graduates will possess basic skills that can help them land jobs.

    Under K-to-12, all five-year-olds should enter kindergarten. During this time, these children will learn the rudiments of education – they get to know the alphabets, identify and count numbers, learn about colors and shapes in a fun way. The universal kindergarten program is vital because it has been established that from 0 to 6 years, the human brain grows at least 60 to 70 percent of the adult brain size. Whatever kids learn during this period will stick to them.

    Exposing children to other children early, making them work harmoniously together, teaching them the concept of good and bad early, helping them build their confidence will develop their interpersonal skills. Kindergarten not only aims to strengthen kids academically, it also builds the moral foundation of a child and his interpersonal skills.

    K-to-12 tweaked the old elementary curriculum to adapt it more applicable to the times.

    From grades 1 to 3, students are taught in their native tongue. From Grades 4 to 6, English and Filipino are gradually introduced as languages of instruction.

    In senior high school, students may choose a specialization based on their aptitude, interests, and school capacity. The choice of career track will define the content of the subjects a student will take in Grades 11 and 12. Students can choose from three tracks: Academic; Technical-Vocational-Livelihood; and Sports and Arts. The Academic track includes three strands: Business, Accountancy, Management (BAM); Humanities, Education, Social Sciences (HESS); and Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM).

    Students who picked the tech-Voc track can obtain Certificates of Competency (COC) or a National Certificate Level I (NC I). After finishing a Technical-Vocational-Livelihood track in Grade 12, a student may obtain a National Certificate Level II (NC II), provided he or she passes the competency-based assessment of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), which will further increase their chances to get employment.

    The Department of Education hopes that under the K-to-12 program, students will acquire information, media and technology, learning and innovation, effective communication and life and career skills.

    Author Mario Salvador Ascueta is Master Teacher 2 of the Batangan Elementary School in Gonzaga, Cagayan.

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    2 Comments

    1. Your statement needs to be repeated —- the importance of the first years. This translates to Kindergarten and elementary schools — the period where the child is most ready to hear the lessons of relationships among family members, with the clan, with neighbors, and with folks of different religions.

      I hope that the there is no reduction of CBCP’s activities in opening kindergarten and elementary schools in all provinces of Pilipinas. Remember that the BBL is now before Congress. I hope that the BBL does not translate where geographic areas of Mindanao becomes like a Saudi Arabia. (Remember — in Saudi Arabia, Christian or Buddhist or Hindu schools and churches are not allowed )

    2. Adding two more years to the current one of ten is a step in the right direction. As you indicated, the country’s educational system is not at par with its foreign counterparts. Partly, I have to argue, is due to our medium of instruction. You stated that it shifts on the first three years of grade school from the vernacular where the student lives to English and Filipino. We are not only a bi-lingual country but rather multi-lingual. It is hard enough to learn one let alone three. This reality in our educational system puts our children in unfair disadvantage. It is a struggle to learn concepts and ideas expressed in words that children never heard before. However, two virtues that Filipinos have which will facilitate learning are patience and persistence. We will get it maybe later if not sooner. We persist and we can wait as long as it takes. Our children will learn even thrive in using a medium of communication that is as foreign as it could get because our parents drilled in us the concept of sacrifice so that others will live. Now, that is as foreign as it could get to people in the west.

      The fact is that, learning English is not anymore an option but a must. Whether, a student chooses a career that sends him or her outside the country or remains at home, one has to have the facility of the English language. This is so because as we often hear, echoed from every chamber of society that we are a global community. Admittedly, English is the universal language. There is no getting around it. Our work environment has radically changed. It has become a multi-ethnic and multi-culture work place even in a country like the Philippines. Two more years in school are nothing because we are a nation that seems to have all the time to wait. Competency needs to be hammered so that it becomes second nature to our children. As one song writer wrote, “It takes time to move a mountain.” Learning a foreign language may not be that immense a task but it is close.