MANILA, Philippines—If you’re a graduating sixth grader this March, then you may as well be among the first to undergo two more years of public high school.
Incoming first year public high school students in June are the first batch of students projected to enter the additional years of senior high school under the Department of Education’s K-12 (Kindergarten to 12), a DepEd official said.
This as DepEd pursues the phased implementation of K-12, a flagship education program of the Aquino administration that aims to improve the quality of Filipino high school graduates by giving them more time to learn.
The K-12 model involves Kindergarten, six years of elementary education, four years of junior high school (Grades 7 to 10) and two years of senior high school (Grades 11 to 12). The two years of senior high school intend to provide students time to consolidate acquired academic skills and competencies relevant to the job market.
DepEd Assistant Secretary for Programs and Projects Elena Ruiz said high school freshmen next year are programmed to enter Grade 11 by school year 2016-2017 under the K-12 implementation plan.
“By 2016, we will have our first batch of senior high school, or Grade 11 … That’s the batch entering first year high school in June. By March 2018, we will have our first graduates of the two additional years in senior high school,” Ruiz told the INQUIRER.
If all goes as planned, this would mean there will be no high school graduation on March 2016, as all fourth year high school students will transition into senior high school, Ruiz explained.
This would, however, require the passage of legislation allowing for 12 years in basic public education, currently pending in Congress.
“When this (K-12) is passed into law, the length of time in high school in the Philippines will be six years. So by 2016, the fourth year class will not yet graduate,” said Ruiz.
Through two additional years in senior high, DepEd aims to provide students with specialized training in their area of interest, whether they hope to work after high school or pursue college or vocational training.
Ruiz said DepEd is confident that it has enough support among lawmakers as K-12 is part of President Aquino’s education reform agenda.
“We believe our lawmakers see the wisdom of the program because they also believe in global competitiveness,” Ruiz said.
“They’re also aware of the kind of graduates that we yield in high school and in college. We see very strong support in the government starting with the President,” she added.
Even pending an enabling law, DepEd has already started laying the groundwork for full-cycle implementation of K-12, starting with the institutionalization of public kindergarten in the current school year and the introduction of a new Grade 1 and First Year high school curriculum by June.
Ruiz said DepEd has set teacher training in the new K-12 curriculum for a smooth transition in classrooms.
The K-12 program seeks to level Philippine education with the rest of the world, with 12 years of basic schooling a global standard. Only the Philippines, Angola and Djibouti continue to have a 10-year basic education cycle, DepEd said.
“It may be viewed as additional cost right now but you have to look at the long run, how it would improve the value of a student after graduation,” Ruiz said.