The world is at a turning point as we go through a transition to a knowledge-based economy. Today’s global reality confronts us with a radically different economy characterized by economic re-structuring, ICT revolution, and the emergence of a knowledge society. In this era of globalization, there are new demands, new systems and structures, new skills and knowledge. Even our training system must adapt to all these developments to respond to the demand for our workers, particularly to possess competencies, creativeness, productiveness and ability to relate to fast-changing environment.
Given the exceedingly fast pace of technological changes in the world today, education and training should be able to integrate technical knowledge and skills for this knowledge-based economy.
To meet the foregoing challenge and take advantage of opportunities offered, the Philippine Congress enacted R.A. 10533 entitled, “Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013.” This is the K-12 law, which establishes, maintains and supports a complete, adequate and integrated system of education relevant to the needs of the people, country and society-at-large.
Accordingly, the Philippines shall create a functional basic education system that will develop productive and responsible citizens equipped with the essential competencies, skills and values for both lifelong learning and employment.
Further, the Government is mandated to:
Give every student an opportunity to receive quality education that is globally-competitive (underscoring supplied) based on a teachable sound curriculum that is at par with international standards;
Broaden the goals of high-school education for college preparation, vocational and technical opportunities, as well as creative arts, sports, and entrepreneurial employment in a rapidly changing and increasingly globalized environment; and
Make education learner-oriented and responsive to the needs, cognitive and cultural capacity, the diversity of learners, schools and communities through appropriate languages of teaching and learning, including mother tongue as learning resource.
The distinctive feature of K-12 is that grades 7-10 constitute junior high school and grades 11-12 as senior high school.
High school, therefore, is a crucial phase in the educational life of a person as he finds himself at the threshold of enthusiasm and passion, on one hand; and maturity and wisdom, on the other.
Here, the student begins to learn critical thinking and problem-solving skills, viz: ability to identify problems, interpret, analyze and categorize ideas as well as find alternatives and choose the best solutions.
Here, the student learns creative thinking skills necessary for generating new ideas, discovering new principles and new processes.
Here, the student learns information-handling skills and the capacity to acquire, locate, search and find information for effective decision-making.
Here, the student learns the fundamentals of major programs for structural adjustment in order to change skills demanded by enterprises and the economy, such as:
Adoption of standard skills
Regional vocational qualifications network
Internationalization of education
Universalization of education
Accreditation and certification
Labor market information system
Given the innate talent of Filipino teachers and students, K-12 will be a practical system to put our professionals in a competitive edge vis-a-vis their foreign counterparts.
The implementation of K-12 begins this academic year, 2016-2017. But the crucial problem is effective implementation. This will require adequate resources. Education should remain as the number one item in the national budget. Grades 11 and 12 should be taught by qualified teachers who possess the relevant knowledge and skill. There is need for close coordination and collaboration among DepEd, CHED and TESDA, with a presidential task force as focal point.
Secondary education must focus not only on academics but also technical and vocational education, to enable high school graduates to gain employment, as they save for higher education, or if they cannot afford to go to university, these graduates are assured of employment.
What are the basic functions of education? Essentially, these are curricular and instructional development. The bottom line, however, is that the qualifications and expertise of the faculty and staff define unequivocally the strength of the school. But these personnel must be reasonably paid in terms of emoluments so that they are encouraged to do their best.
What is important is to mobilize K-12 in an immediate future that will help:
Reverse the dangerous trend toward corruption, crime, violence and moral decay.
Fight hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and violations of human rights.
These should be the true value of K-12.
By Rosalinda V. Tirona served as Philippine Career Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary from 1982 to 2005.