YEARENDER: 2013 education
The Department of Education (DepEd) counts among its biggest achievements this year the implementation of the K-to-12 program and the signing of the Enhanced Basic Education Act to protect students from bullying.
For Education Secretary Armin Luistro, 2013 saw the department meeting the backlogs of 2010, setting the foundations to institutionalize reforms in the government and education sectors, and enhancing information systems that enhance private sector and civil society engagement.
But like all the other government agencies, the DepEd was not spared the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda; almost all schools in the Visayas region were either washed out by the deadly storm surges or were damaged by the fierce winds.
Luistro said the typhoon brought home the message that whatever gains that the department make can be wiped out in an instant.
“We are humbled by the realization that whatever we build, whatever we value, may be lost overnight. But it is important to never lose hope, because it is what helps us get to where we are today, and it is what fuels the changes and accomplishments that we still desire to achieve for our learners and our country,” he said.
The DepEd made history this year when it launched the K-to-12 program in all schools.
Republic Act 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 redefines secondary education, making it six years instead of four.
The aim is to adequately prepare high school graduates for either college or employment.
It is also meant to decongest the academic workload, giving students more time to master competencies and engage in co-curricular activities and community work/affairs.
The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for K-to-12 was signed in September by Luistro, Commission on Higher Education Chairman Patricia Licuanan and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) Director General Joel Villanueva.
Under the IRR, the DepEd prioritizes assistance to poor students through the Expanded Government Assistance for Students and Teachers in Private Education Act. It enables public school students to enroll in a eligible private or non-DepEd school of their choice, with the government subsidizing their tuition through the Education Service Contracting.
Under such an arrangement, the DepEd does not need to build more classrooms and hire more teachers.
The DepEd also enhanced the curriculum for senior high school (Grade 11 to 12), which covers 31 subjects. Discussion on Disaster Risk Reduction, Climate Change Adaptation, and Information and Communication Technology were included in the enhanced curriculum.
The subjects cover academic, technical-vocational-livelihood; and sports and arts. The academic track includes business, accountancy, management, humanities, education, social sciences and science, technology, engineering, mathematics.
Students are required undergo immersion, which may include earn-while-you-learn opportunities.
Upon completing Grade 10, a student can earn certificates of competency or a national certificate level I. After finishing a tech-voc track in Grade 12, a student may obtain a national certificate level II, as long as he or she passes the competency-based assessment of Tesda.
The DepEd has also implemented the Child Protection Policy and Anti-Bullying Act, which requires kindergarten, elementary and secondary schools to adopt policies to prevent and address bullying.
The law defines bullying as any severe or repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another student that has the effect of actually causing or placing the latter in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm or damage to his property; creating a hostile environment at school for the other students.
Bullying also involves infringing upon the rights of other students at school or materially and substantially disrupting the education process or the orderly preparation of a school.
It also covers “cyber-bullying” or bullying done through the use of technology or any electronic means; “social bullying” which refers to any deliberate, repetitive and aggressive social behavior intended to hurt others or to belittle another individual or group and “gender-based bullying” which refers to any act that humiliates or excludes a person based on perceived or actual sexual orientation and gender identity.