HER Facebook account is awash with photos of beaming faces of millenials like her—a lot of them, her co-workers in one of the business process outsourcing firms in Bacolod City. Comments expressing congratulations, celebrations, and sense of fulfillment filled the pages of her social media website. Young Andrea Minasalvas is just so happy she now has her own income—beginning last year, just three months after she graduated from high school.
Minasalvas’ hometown school—the Negros Occidental High School (NOHS)—was one of the pilot schools to implement the government’s Senior High School (SHS) program in 2012. For their initial offering, the 52 enrollees at that time, which included Minasalvas, chose the Contact Center Service Course.
At first, the young Minasalvas had doubts on the SHS program.
“I thought of it as an additional burden—more wasted time in school for students and additional expenses for the parents,” she professed.
But all this changed when she quickly landed a job fresh from high school.
“Now that I am reaping the benefits of SHS, I see the whole thing differently,” she said. “Maybe it’s an added burden, but the return is much more. It’s not only the financial return, but also the change in character and attitude, the confidence and maturity, and a lot more!”
Minasalvas started high school at NOHS in 2009. Six years later, she started working working in a BPO company in her hometown. Earlier this year, she moved to the Bacolod branch of Convergys, one of the country’s more well-known BPOs.
Many of SHS graduates from NOHS are now employed in various BPO companies in Bacolod City, according the Department of Education (DepEd), which initiated the program on the local public school.
2016 a different school year
This coming school year will be quite different from before. The Philippine education system is now on the final leg of implementation of K to 12—its major reform in years.
Under K-12, two years will be added to the 10 years of pre-requisite basic education before a student can enter college or university level.
As of last count of DepEd, 5,927 public schools and 4,827 private high schools, private and public universities and colleges, and technical-vocations schools are set to start offering Grade 11 in 2016 and Grade 12 in 2017.
The K-12 program covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education—six years of primary school, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School.
“This is to provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship,” explains DepEd in its official website.
Senior High School
The two years added to the school curriculum—the SHS—is for specialized upper secondary education. Students may choose a specialization based on 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. SHS subjects fall under either the Core Curriculum or the specific Tracks.
Under the Core Curriculum are seven learning areas: languages, literature, communication, mathematics, philosophy, natural sciences, and social sciences. The current content of some General Education subjects are embedded in the SHS curriculum.
Meanwhile, each SHS student can choose among 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 undergo immersion, which may include earn-while-you-learn opportunities, to provide them relevant exposure and actual experience in their chosen track.
After finishing Grade 10, a student 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 government’s Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). NC I and NC II improves employability of graduates in fields like agriculture, electronics, and trade.
In school year 2012-2013, 33 public high schools, public technical-vocational high schools, and higher education institutions implemented Grade 11. Minasalvas’ NOHS was among these.
“This is a Research and Design (R&D) program to simulate different aspects of SHS in preparation for full nationwide implementation in SY 2016-2017,” the DepEd explained. “Modeling programs offered by these schools are based on students’ interests, community needs, and their respective capacities. After going through Kindergarten, the enhanced Elementary and Junior High curriculum, and a specialized Senior High program, every K to 12 graduate will be ready to go into different paths—may it be further education, employment, or entrepreneurship.”
According to DepEd, implementation of the K-12 program was done in phases starting from SY 2012-2013. Grade 1 entrants in SY 2012–2013 were the first batch to fully undergo the program. To facilitate the transition from the 10-year basic education to 12 years, DepEd implemented the SHS and SHS Modeling—something the young employee Minasalvas and her peers are now grateful for.