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BACKGROUND AND HISTORY A major change in our countrys educational landscape is about to take place: the Department of Education (DepEd) is launching the K-12 curriculum this coming June. According to President Benigno S. Aquino, We need to add two years to our basic education. Those who can afford pay up to fourteen years of schooling before university. Thus, their children are getting into the best universities and the best jobs after graduation. I want at least 12 years for our public school children to give them an even chance at succeeding. In line with this, the 1987 Philippine Constitution states that, The State shall establish, maintain, and support a complete, adequate, and integrated system of education relevant to the needs of the people and the society. Such mandate gives justice to the basic rights of every Filipino child: the right to quality education and the right to a quality life. What is K-12? According to the K to 12 Deped Primer (2011), K-12 means Kindergarten and the 12 years of elementary and secondary education. Kindergarten points to the 5-year old child who undertakes the standardized curriculum for preschoolers. Elementary education refers to 6 years of primary school (Grades 1-6) while secondary education means four years of junior high school (Grades 7-10 or HS Year 1-4). In addition to this, two years are now allotted for senior high school (Grades 11-12 or HS Year 5-6). Prof. Lorina Calingasan of the College of Education in UP Diliman explains that K-12 means extending basic education by two years, so instead of having a high school graduate at 16 (years old), we will have high schoolers graduating at 18. The DepEd discussion paper (2010) on the enhanced K-12 basic education program explains that this new setup seeks to provide a quality 12-year basic education program that each Filipino is entitled to (p.5). Furthermore, the purpose is not simply to add 2 more years of education but more importantly to enhance the basic education curriculum (p.5). What is the rationale for this program? There is an urgent need to enhance the quality of basic education in our country as seen in the education outcomes of Filipino students and the comparative disadvantage of the Philippines with regard to other countries. The following data would support this explanation: At present, the Philippines is the only country in Asia and among the three remaining countries in the world that uses a 10-year basic education cycle. According to a presentation made by the South East Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO-INNOTECH) on Additional Years in Philippine Basic Education (2010), the comparative data on duration of Basic and PreUniversity Education in Asia shows that the Philippines allots 10 years not just for the basic education cycle but also for the pre-university education while all the other countries have either 11 or 12 years in their basic education cycle. Achievement scores highlight our students poor performance in national examinations. The National Achievement Test (NAT) results for grade 6 in SY 2009-2010 showed only a 69.21% passing rate while the NAT results for high school is at a low 46.38%. Moreover, international

tests results in 2003 Trends in International Mathematics and Science study (TIMSS) show that the Philippines ranked 34th out of 38 countries in HS Math and 43rd out of 46 countries in HS II Science. Moreover, the Philippines ranked the lowest in 2008 even with only the science high schools joining the Advanced Mathematics category. The present curriculum is described as congested. This means that students do not get enough time to perform tasks because the curriculum is designed to be taught in a span of 12 years and not 10 years. The more obvious result of this is the fact that most high school students graduate without the readiness to take upon higher education or employment. These students are not equipped with the basic skills or competencies needed at work. Furthermore, the short duration of our basic education program puts Filipinos who are interested to either work or study abroad at a disadvantage. This is because other countries see our 10-year program as incomplete, which then, causes Filipino graduates to not be considered as professionals abroad. Given all these supporting facts, there is indeed a need to improve the quality of basic education by enhancing it and by expanding the basic education cycle. What is the vision of this program? Records will show that as early as 1925, there were already efforts to improve the basic education curriculum and recommendations have been put forward since then. Thus, this idea of adding years to the present curriculum is not new. The K-12 Curriculum envisions holistically developed learners with 21st century skills (Deped Primer, 2011). At the core of this basic education program is the complete human development of every graduate (DepEd discussion paper, p.6). This further means that every student would have an understanding of the world around him and a passion for life-long learning while addressing every students basic learning needs: learning to learn, the acquisition of numeracy, literacy, and scientific and technological knowledge as applied to daily life (p.6). In addition to this, every graduate is envisioned to have respect for human rights and would aim to become Maka-Diyos, Maka-tao, Makabansa, Maka-kalikasan (p.6) The K-12 vision aims to have relevance in the socio-economic realm, as well. This means that the students would understand their role as productive members of the country. Such vision can only be possible through an enhanced curriculum. What is the K-12 curriculum all about? According to the DepEd discussion paper (2010), the K-12 curriculum aims to enable every child to achieve mastery of core competencies and skills (p.6) and develop tracks based on the students interests and competencies. The focus of K-12 is twofold: curriculum enhancement and transition management. Curriculum enhancement With the K-6-4-2 model, the 2 years for senior high school is aimed at giving the students time to strengthen competencies and academic skills. The curriculum will also provide specializations in the following: science and technology, music and arts, agriculture and fisheries, sports, business and entrepreneurship, etc, depending on the occupation or career that they intend to pursue. These two years will build on skills that are essential to their chosen field.

Transition management - The DepEd mentions in their discussion paper (2010) that they are preparing a carefully sequenced implementation plan to ensure smooth transition with the least disruption in the current program. According to Education Secretary Br. Armin A. Luistro, the new curriculum is focused more on the learners and not on the teacher. Luistro said, We are making it a real learning experience for the students, meaning, it will be less on memorization and more encouraging of critical thinking. In addition to this, a mother tongue-based multi-lingual education (MTB-MLE) will be used for instruction in Kinder to Grade 3 classes after studies showed that students learn more when their language at home is used in discussing the lessons in school. Also, there will be less contact time as Grade 1 pupils will only attend school for half a day instead of 6 hours. Luistro explains, It is important that our learners develop that natural love for learning and not feel that it is something imposed on themwe will reduce it to four hours to make education less stressful and more enjoyable. For the first year high school curriculum, Luistro mentions that the lessons will be more interactive and meaningful to everyday life. This means that Science will be reflected in terms of its practical use. He further explains, as students go up the ladder, we want them to learn skills that are being demanded by employers while at the same time giving them the chance to appreciate and enjoy the lessons. For instance, Luistro stresses that Science is to be integrated in all learning areas since it is a complex subject. He further expounds, the focus of early education (Kinder to Grade 2) should be the fundamental skills and literacy of the pupils to develop better comprehension for more complicated subjects such as science. A study done by SEAMEO points out that the current curriculum allots about 1,100 minutes per week in elementary education to Science, which will change with the introduction of K-12. Luistro says, this, coupled with teaching more competencies, imply congestion in our current elementary Science curriculum. To address this, Science will now be integrated into the teaching of the Language, Mathematics and Health under MAPEH subjects beginning at Kindergarten. Prof. Calingasan further explains that the K-12 curriculum for Social Studies will instead center on historical thinking skills rather than memory work (of dates, names, regions, capitals, etc) and accumulation of facts. She mentions examples of thinking skills such as weighing the evidence of any information, using primary source evidence, analyzing and interpreting information, manifesting ethical standards (e.g., respect for differences, recognition of sources of evidence/idea). The K-12 Social Studies curriculum will also teach students about local history. Who will be affected by this program? Prof. Calingasan explains that incoming Grade 1 and Grade 7 students by school year 2012-2013 are the ones who will be directly affected by the K-12 program. According to a DepEd briefer on K-12, the Department will begin implementing the curriculum in school year 2012-2013. As mentioned in the article, the enhanced 12-year curriculum will be implemented starting with incoming Grade 1 students. Incoming freshmen of SY 2012-2013 will be the first beneficiaries of a free Senior High School education that will be made available by DepEd in public schools beginning in SY 2016-2017.

What are the benefits of this program? Prof. Calingasan explains that while parents may look at this as extended expense i.e., paying tuition for another 2 years in high school, this would offset itself since the competencies one would learn from the additional years are the same ones which the first two years of general education in college teach. The DepEd primer (2011) specifies the benefits to individuals and families: 1. A decongested academic workload, giving students more time to master competencies and for co-curricular activities and community involvement, thus, allowing for a more holistic development; 2. Graduates will possess competencies and skills relevant to the job market and they will be prepared for higher education; 3. K-12 is affordable; 4. The potential annual earnings of a K-12 graduate will be higher compared to the earnings of a 10-year high school graduate; 5. Graduates will be recognized abroad. The benefits of K-12 curriculum for the society and the economy are: 1. It will contribute to economic growth. Studies show that improvements in the quality of education increases GDP growth. According to the DepEd (2010), studies in the country have reflected that an additional year of school increases the earnings by 7.5% and that improvements in the quality of education will enable the GDP grow by 2-2.2%. 2. It will facilitate the recognition of Filipino graduates and professionals in other countries 3. A better educated society provides a sound foundation for long-term socio-economic development. What will this mean for students and their future? Definitely this will mean that they will graduate late (by present reference point), but on another perspective, will mean that they will be more mature when they enter college, or that they will be ready for work, explains Prof. Calingasan. The DepEd, in its 2010 discussion paper, explains further that every graduate of the K-12 program will have the courage, the drive, and the relevant skills to engage in work and have a productive life (p.6). This means that every graduate is ready to take upon the world as he is prepared holistically to meet those challenges. The goal of the K-12 curriculum is to create a purposeful basic education system that will produce productive, responsible citizens equipped with the essential competencies and skills for both life-long learning and employment (p.7). To summarize, the K-12 curriculum speaks about hope and change for the country. As our culture puts great value on education, it is about time that our national government supports this fully. The K-12 honors every Filipino childs right to better future as it is designed to develop a learner who possesses a healthy mind and body; has a solid moral and spiritual grounding; has essential knowledge and skills for lifelong learning and self-actualization; engages in critical thinking and creative problem solving; contributes to the development of a progressive, just, and humane society; is proud to be a Filipino and appreciates the beauty around him/her and cares for the environment for a sustainable future.

Indeed, K-12 is every Filipino childs future. References: Department of Education. (2010). Discussion Paper on the Enhanced K +12 Basic Education Program. Department of Education (2011). K to 12 Basic Education Program Primer Quismundo, T. (2011, October 7) DepEd readies K +12 curricula for next year. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved from DepEd Updates. Retrieved from Department of Education. (2010). Briefer on the enhanced k12 basic education program. Retrieved from 2. The impact of the implementation of K -12 program is expected to adversely affect private colleges and universities because it will lead to the decline in the number of enrollees. Also colleges and universities will be financially challenged to maintain their operation and compensate their teaching staff. And the subjects will be downsized and some others will have to be taken in High School. 3. POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE ARGUMENTS ABOUT K TO 12 PROGRAM The PROS (which is basically the side of the government, well-heeled and articulate leaders from the academe, the business community and the media): Enhancing the quality of basic education in the Philippines is urgent and critical. The poor quality of basic education is reflected in the low achievement scores of Filipino students. One reason is that students do not get adequate instructional time or time on task. International test results consistently show Filipino students lagging way behind practically everybody else in the world. In the 2008 mathematics exam, for example, we came in dead last. The congested curriculum partly explains the present state of education. Twelve years of content are crammed into ten years. This quality of education is reflected in the inadequate preparation of high school graduates for the world of work or entrepreneurship or higher education. If ten years were adequate, how come employers do not hire fresh high school graduates? How come most high school graduates flunk the UPCAT? Most graduates are too young to enter the labor force. Since most children start Grade 1 when they are 6 years old, they do not reach the legal employable age of 18 when they graduate from high school today. The current system also reinforces the misperception that basic education is just a preparatory step for higher education. Why prioritize the minority of high school graduates that go to college? The short duration of the basic education program also puts the millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), especially the professionals, and those who intend to study

abroad, at a disadvantage. Our graduates are not automatically recognized as professionals abroad. The best examples are our engineering graduates, who are condemned to international jobs not befitting their professional status due to our not having a 12-year basic education cycle. The short basic education program affects the human development of the Filipino children. If we believe that 17-year-old high school graduates are emotionally, psychologically, and intellectually mature, why do we require them to get parental consent before they get married?

The CONS (which are basically the madlang people whose pocketbooks would be adversely impacted by the proposed additional 2 years of basic education): Parents have to shell out more money (for transportation and food) for the education of their children. The government does not have the money to pay for two more years of free education, since it does not even have the money to fully support todays ten years. DepEd must first solve the lack of classrooms, furniture and equipment, qualified teachers, and error-free textbooks. We can do in ten years what everyone else in the world takes 12 years to do. Why do we have to follow what the rest of the world is doing? We are better than all of them. Filipinos right now are accepted in prestigious graduate schools in the world, even with only ten years of basic education. As far as the curriculum is concerned, DepEd should fix the current subjects instead of adding new ones. The problem is the content, not the length, of basic education. As an editorial put it, we need to have better education, not more education. A high school diploma will not get anybody anywhere, because business firms will not hire fresh high school graduates. Every family dreams of having a child graduate from college. While students are stuck in Grades 11 and 12, colleges and universities will have no freshmen for two years. This will spell financial disaster for many private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). The drop-out rate will increase because of the two extra years. 4. I suggest redesign general education and course curriculum and focus on employable competencies and life skills. 5. Because of the expected decrease in enrollment the best alternatives or can do to solve the problems that will arise in 2016 onwards is to cut the teaching staff because of low revenues. And give the last three batches of graduates from the old educational cycle options to take a prebaccalaureate, international baccalaureate, or associate degrees for two years before they take the four-year degree course. In this attempt, general education teachers will have to design academic programs and reengineer their existing programs for the change.