WHILE fruits of the government’s K-12 program have yet to fully ripen, officials of the Department of Education (DepEd) reiterated their guarantee that graduates of senior high school programs would either be able to find a job easily or start their own businesses.
According to Jesus Mateo, Undersecretary for Governance, Operations and Planning of DepEd, although the first batch of senior high school (Grades 11 and 12) students are not set to graduate until 2018, schools that piloted the program have observed that their alumni were able to land jobs shortly after graduating.
The senior high school program was fully implemented this school year and is expected to produce its first batch of graduates by 2018.
“If you base it on the enrollment rate, that’s very successful. They’re [senior high school students are]not working yet because they are still enrolled at Grade 11 and the first batch of graduates will be on 2018,” Mateo told The Manila Times.
Enrollment rates show success
High enrollment rates in senior high school programs served to dispel impressions that the K-12 program, which entails an additional two years of schooling, would become a stumbling block for students, according to DepEd.
“Well, if you could just look at the enrollment, you will see that our campaign on the K-to-12 program was very successful,” Mateo said.
DepEd records show that 100 percent of junior high school [Grade 10] graduates enrolled in senior high school [Grade 11] this school year, Mateo cited.
The department, according to Mateo, was able to avert anticipated mass drop-outs.
DepEd records also show that around 1,517,610 students enrolled in senior high school. The number of students who finished Grade 10, meanwhile, was pegged at 1,483,388. This means that it even exceeded its target number of enrollees.
“Based on our [DepEd] record, of the 1,517,610 senior high school enrollees, 1,460,970 of them were Grade 10 completers, 54,262 (are) returnees or balik-aral students, and the remaining 2,378 were A&E [accreditation and equivalency]passers,” Mateo explained.
“We have just exceeded by at least 100,000 (the target number of) enrollees in the senior high school,” he added.
Increased interest in college education
In previous years, prior to the implementation of the K-12 program, only 50 percent of Grade 10 or fourth year high school graduates proceed to college, Mateo said.
“There are many colleges and universities and technical vocational institutions that are now offering the senior high school. We allowed them to offer senior high school as long as they are capable,” he noted.
“We [at DepEd]have also identified stand alone senior high schools, especially in the areas that do not have a junior high or high school,” Mateo added.
He said that based on registration and enrollment data, 60 percent of Grade 11 students enlisted in the academic track.
“So, this means that they really have the desire to go college. But this doesn’t mean that if you take up a tech-voc (technical-vocational track), you are no longer allowed to proceed college education,” he said.
The academic track has four different strands: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS), Accountancy and Business Management (ABM), and General Academic. The tech-voc track, on the other hand, has three strands: agro-fisheries, hospitality, and information and communications technology.
Figures obtained from the DepEd showed that 60 percent or 914,436 of the 1.5 million Grade 11 students enlisted in the academic track, 39.15 percent or 594,027 enrolled in the tech-voc track, 0.38 percent or 5,751 in arts and design, and 0.20 percent or 3,096 in sports.
The four tracks of the senior high school program were designed according to schools’ capabilities and the needs of the community, Mateo explained.
“You will see that our students are not just looking (at) courses that best suit (their) capability, but (also) based on the needs of the local industry,” he said.
“We want to address the problem on the jobs-skills mismatch. We want them [students]to take up courses that are relevant [to the needs of the industry],” the DepEd official added.
“With the K-to-12, we are preparing students to have the options whether they would find a job or put up their own business after graduation,” he said.
Mateo also said that a subject on entrepreneurship has been embedded in the different tracks, making graduates of senior high schools not only job-ready but are also equipped with entrepreneurial skills.
The DepEd official also noted that there are many success stories from students who graduated from schools that piloted the senior high school program, especially in the tech-voc track.
One of them is Rendel Mancera Cortez, who took advantage of DepEd’s pilot program at the Lamon Bay School of Fisheries in Quezon province.
The eldest son of a tricycle driver among five siblings, Mancera wanted to go to college but his family could not afford it. He instead enlisted in a tech-voc track where he studied Commercial Cooking, Cookery, and Bread and Pastry.
With these subjects he learned to prepare, cook and serve a variety of food items.
These food items were sold to students and teachers in the school. The income from sales income is then used to finance the students’ projects and other hands-on activities.
“Sometimes, we do a catering service at the National Association of Principals of Philippine Secondary Schools and Skills Training and Vocational Education conferences,” Mancera said.
After senior high school, he decided to pursue a degree in Bachelor of Science in Education, Major in English at the Eastern Quezon College in Gumaca where he is now a third year student.
Meanwhile, dreaming of putting up and managing his own coffee shop, Vladimir Eola, 22, has worked as a barista, coffee technician, and roaster in Cafe de Lipa in Batangas province.
Eola said he visited the Lipa Coffee Academy out of curiosity at first. His family used to run a small coffee farm.
Eola learned all of the cited skills from his training at the Lipa Coffee Academy, one of the schools that piloted the senior high school program of the Pinagtong-ulan National High School.
Eola said he did not regret enrolling in the program. He added that while he was skeptical of the program at first, he eventually appreciated the training he was getting from the academy.
After only two years since he graduated from high school, Eola is not only able to help provide for his siblings, he is also closer to his dream of putting up his own business.
“Now, I can already help my siblings. I’ve also learned new skills about coffee . . . and if fortune sided with me . . . I just want to have my own coffee shop,” he said.
Lipa, Batangas is known for its rich and strong coffee beans.
Among the schools that piloted the senior high school program were University of Makati, Manila Central University in Caloocan City, Consortium of Don Bosco/TVET Center, The Manila Times College, Asia Pacific College, Ateneo de Naga University, Philippine Women’s College of Davao City, and Davao Doctor’s College.