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.