The K-12 (Kindergarten to 12) program is being designed to strengthen instruction of science in Philippine schools.
The Department of Education (DepEd) made the statement to allay fears that the curriculum revamp would adversely affect science education.
Fears of further dilution of the science program emerged after reports came out in another newspaper that DepEd would be dropping science in Grade 1 starting school year 2012-13.
The department clarified that science had not been taught as a separate subject in Grades 1 and 2 since the 1980s.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro said for 30 years now, science had only been a separate subject in public schools starting in Grade 3.
Rudimentary science concepts were embedded in the Grades 1 and 2 subjects languages, mathematics and health (under music, arts, physical education and health).
This would be retained in the revised basic education curriculum of the K-12 reform program designed to improve the quality of Filipino graduates by adding two years of senior high school to the 10-year basic education cycle.
“In effect, we are merely maintaining the status quo, which is to focus on fundamental skills, numeracy and literacy (reading and writing) during the early years,” Luistro said.
This was confirmed by Felicitas Pado, a reading and early learning expert from the University of the Philippines.
Pado said it had been a practice in teaching early grades for science to be integrated into other subjects. Science was only introduced as a separate subject in third grade.
This was the practice at the UP Integrated School, one of the best government basic education schools.
“The focus in the early grades is communication skills. Science concepts are integrated, for instance, in reading classes,” said Pado.
In an earlier interview, Luistro explained that the new Grade 1 curriculum would have a “more enjoyable” and relatable content, with learning hours cut from six to four so that school will not tire out early learners.
The new curriculum will also focus on the mother tongue not only as a medium of instruction but also as a separate language learning area.
The use of a child’s first language has been proven to improve student scores and boost their learning curves as they move up the education ladder.
DepEd will introduce the new Grade 1 curriculum this coming school year as part of the phased implementation of K-12. It expects to graduate the first full-cycle K-12 class in 2018.
“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,” Luistro said.
He added that K-12 aimed to enhance science learning and teaching and make it even more relevant in the daily experience of the learners.
Meanwhile, DepEd continues to receive donations for “Sendong” victims more than a month since it appealed for help for schools and students in areas devastated by the tropical storm.
DepEd has shipped to Northern Mindanao countless boxes of school supplies, clothes, food, personal hygiene products and other relief items from donors across the country.
The storm affected close to 37,000 students and almost 2,000 teachers and school officials.
“We are overwhelmed by the generosity of all those who supported our donation drive for Sendong victims in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro,” said Tina Ganzon, DepEd communications director. “Their help has allowed us to move closer to our goal of bringing normalcy back to the lives of the victims.”
Sendong cost DepEd some P114.9 million worth of damage to school buildings, learning materials and equipment, the department’s disaster response office said in a report.
DepEd’s efforts in Northern Mindanao include post-trauma counseling for both students and teachers.