K to 12 and the wrong reasons to oppose education reform


AS if timed with the opening of classes, new legal challenges have sprung up against the K to 12 program. While we remain confident in the collective wisdom of the Supreme Court, we feel concerned. The political season is upon us, and we sense that not a few politicians will exploit this populist issue against educational reform.

To be clear, The Manila Times supports K to 12. And as we have said before in this space, we believe that it will improve the overall quality of education and make Filipino professionals more competitive in the global workplace.

The government points out that the Philippines is among the few countries with a basic education program of only 10 years, along with Angola and Djibouti. And on its website, the Department of Education adds: “A 12-year program is found to be the best period for learning under basic education. It is also the recognized standard for students and professionals globally.”

With only 10 years of education, Filipino professionals stand under a glass ceiling. In Thailand, for instance, Filipino engineers are not qualified to work as engineers entitled to the commensurate pay and perks, precisely because the Philippine basic education system is shorter by two years. In Singapore, Filipino professionals are denied promotions simply because they do not meet the basic educational requirement. There are other anecdotal examples, but perhaps the best that we have seen is that private schools in the Philippines have either implemented K to 12 ahead of the government schedule, or are well into the transition. So if money were no object, the choice seems to be 12 years of basic education.

Should those who cannot afford private schools be left with only 10 years? We disagree. Those who have no means to pursue more years of education should be afforded the same level of schooling as the ones who are better off. We agree with the argument that retaining the present 10-year system is actually anti-poor.

Ridiculous reasons
Those challenging K to 12, however, are also using the poverty card. They have said that two extra years of high school add financial burden to families that are already cash-strapped. This line is echoed in a recent survey reporting that two-thirds of Filipinos disagree with the need for additional two years of high school. We sense that the respondents would probably answer differently if the question were: Do you agree to two extra years of high school if that will mean better career opportunities to the graduates? After all, what kind of opportunities would be available to a 16-year old, the typical age of those finishing 10 years of basic education?

To address this concern, the government should provide even more scholarships and grants to poor students. In fairness to the Aquino government, it is asking Congress for P10.7 billion to fund school vouchers in 2016. For 2017, the plan is to increase the allocation to P17.5 billion to also cover those entering Grade 12. We hope that our lawmakers approve those measures quickly.

The other common reason for opposing K to 12 cites the lack of readiness. In fact, the survey mentioned earlier says that 63 percent of its respondents do not believe that the government is ready to implement K to 12 in full by next year. That must be the most defeatist kind of thinking we have encountered. If the government is not yet ready, then the solution is to make it ready. Why deny Filipino students the minimum standards held globally just because we still need more classrooms, textbooks and other such things?

Besides, those opposing K to 12 fail to mention that we are in the fifth year of implementation. The reforms do not simply go online next year. Instead, they have been progressing for half a decade and have now reached the last leg.

Having failed to block the passage of Republic Act 10533 and the corresponding implementing rules, those against it are hoping to turn public opinion against K to 12. They pretend to care for the poor, but in reality they condemn them to a lower standard than the rest of the world.


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  1. I think the colleges affected should be allowed to creates grade 11 and grade 12. The college instructors without LET could be given a provisional Teacher’s License in lieu of passing the LET which certain provisions such have some tenure of teaching college for at say arbitrarily three 3) years or more…the college will have to create the curriculum for the grade 11-12! This will allow the college instructors to get their post graduate studies for the next two years…while exceptional students in the K11 program could be accelerated to regular college based on some criteria!

  2. Dietmar Bueckart on

    Nice article, but I disagree partly to the K to 12. I am from Germany, where they just turned back from 12 to 13 years to reach allowance for visting university. As a daddy of a young girl I started to look deep into local education – and became very disappointed. I think the problem is not 10 or 12 years, but more comprehensive education. Visiting school 12 years and wasting 2 hours daily with waiting for whatever make the same as 10 years without waiting.
    As a european I miss fixed times, full day school as “second home” undermine the education position of the family.
    But in general it’s true: Pinoy need more experience, more fundamentals in education. I tried to hire some writers and also computer programmers but was shocked by their missing skills.
    I start to understand that the Philippines are a consuming country, not a producing one. People love (listening) music, but not making music themselves. Use apps on cell phone but don’t create apps. Well, of course not everybody, but Pinoy life as I learned it is the art of doing everything with least effort and being satisfied with the minimum. I think, that is the real problem in Pinoy education.

  3. Rita Riddle on

    Those who oppose the K to 12 saying they had ten years and they are okay, don’t realize they were the fortunate 20% who were able to go to college and earn skills which made them productive.

    What about the greater 80 percent who did not have the equal chance to a brighter future just because they cannot afford to go to college nor learn a skill which they can use to live a better life.

    • Dietmar Bueckart on

      As long as a BS in Accounting has to work as cashier at SM and a BS in business administration proudly runs his own sari-sari, everything is ok. The Philippines lack good job opportunities because of missing progress. And for the normal flow of life the K10 is ok, indeed. It is a question of comparison: does the Philippines want to live their life as the do now and feel happy by joining the club of the least poor countries in the world or do they want to progress, build a (economically) better future for their children? Competetion with countries in the neighborhood or world wide takes more effort in education.

  4. Go to KSA Pinoy engineers can be Project Manager or in the other parts of GCC. Government should abolish this K to 12 it’s burden to everybody specially for the poor…

  5. This is a very well-written commentary with excellent supporting points and arguments. Too bad many short sighted people will use this K-12 program, which every student, especially the poor, direly need to help prepare them for the job market, as a spring board to advance their own selfish plans to exploit the poor and the “bobo-tantes”.

    A 16 year old high school grad in the PHL is so ill-equipped skill-wise, and it opens a lot of opportunities for the evil-hearted to take advantage of these poor kids. Ask one high school grad to compose a simple two paragraph essay in English, and you’ll see what I mean.

    • Indeed this is a well written commentary for those who favor the K-12 program. You should remember that you yourself and many brilliant Filipinos around the world did not go through the K-12 program.What is really frustrating is that you yourselves do not see the details of our educational system wherein the lack of schools, classrooms, teachers, facilities and amenities are being neglected. When you yourselves are in school then, a classroom population dd not exceed 40 students and the tools and facilities in every classroom are satisfactory.There is now a big difference as a classroom contains as much as 60 students or more..and facilities available are lacking. The DEPED, the CHED, and you Reporters should go to the schools to check this out firsthand. I am not against K-12 per se, but please, please, give our students adequate schools, classrooms, facilities, more teachers with good pay in our public schools. There are news reports that says that if public schools are lacking, then students should go to private schools under a voucher system. This move by our Government becomes political in nature and enriches the private schools. Why don’t Government satisfy the need for more schools, more classrooms and good facilities and teaching/learning tools and higher wages of Teachers? Government can solve some unemployment problems by constructing more schools, classrooms and facilities, employing more teachers so that a teacher-student ratio is 1:40 at most instead of using a Voucher system which is politically motivated. Mybe, then maybe, after Gov’t, DEPED and CHED have accomplished this, and necessarily revising the curriculums with the required trainings, then and only then that the K-12 program can be implemented. USEC LUISTRO should know these steps as i believe he is a learned person. But before implementing K-12, USEC Luistro should see to it that all preparations are fully completed.

    • Dietmar Bueckart on

      I agree regarding writing. I offered writing jobs to students and college graduates, but only one was able to write an article that was worth to being published.
      BUT I also saw many very young kids that are very good, join wattpad, read and write for free. But they are focused on “enjoy life” and not interested in writing what is needed to earn something with that skill.
      The “value” they teach at school prefer: enjoy your life, be happy don’t worry. And that is what the kids do – those who are not interested in doing anything and also those who are talented but see no way how to progress.
      Sometimes I like to reach out a hand and help, but after 4 years disappointments I start to surrender towards the complicated social environment. It’s difficult for a foreigner like me to help even those who would be happy to get some help as I get very often comments like “we love the PH as it is” – and I keep my mouth shut because my daughter has the option to “leave it as love as she loves it”…

  6. Allen LLamr on

    The system works here abroad it will work in Philippines kids here are doing great with thier education. But, some pinoys are crabs they`ll do everything to take it down.