MANILA, Philippines—When will K-12 (Kindergarten to Year 12) be implemented? Does my daughter have to go to senior high school?
With less three weeks before school returns, the Department of Education (DepEd) continues to receive questions from parents and students about the basic education reform program. The common question is how the program will be implemented.
And while K-12 still comes under criticism, the DepEd says public acceptance of the program is growing. It says there has been wider understanding of the program since nationwide consultations started more than a year ago.
In an interview with the Inquirer, Assistant Education Secretary Jesus Mateo said the private sector, including private schools and businessmen, also showed support for K-12.
“You’ll see that people’s perception about K-12 is changing. The issue is acceptability and understanding, and it appears that more people now believe that it can be done,” Mateo said.
“More people now understand and more people now accept,” Mateo said. “Of course, understanding is different from acceptance,” he added.
A key education reform of the Aquino administration, K-12 is designed to develop highly qualified, employable high school graduates by adding two years of specialization, designated as senior high school, to the current 10-year basic education cycle.
In senior high, students can choose from various fields of specialization, including technical-vocational skills, agriculture, music and the arts, and sports.
A year will also be added to the present six-year elementary school.
The DepEd will introduce a revised curriculum by phases, starting with new content for Grades 1 and 7 school year 2012-2013.
The additional levels will be introduced in the next few years, with senior high school starting by school year 2016-2017. Incoming freshmen in June will be the first class to take the two additional years in high school.
“We should clarify that the implementation of K-12 is phasing,” Mateo said. “We can’t do it in one shot. And we don’t even pretend we can do it in one shot.”
Parents, students or anyone who would like to learn more about K-12 may log on to the DepEd’s website, www.deped.gov.ph, and find the link to an explanation of the program, Mateo said. They may also inquire at the nearest school division or regional office.
Militant student groups, however, continue to oppose K-12, saying the government is rushing its implementation despite teacher, classroom and textbook shortages.
“The union stands firm in its evaluation of the K-12 program as a decoy program implemented to try and fool people into thinking that the education crisis is being addressed,” Isabelle Baguisi, secretary general of the National Union of Students of the Philippines, said.
“But the alarming problems with curriculum revisions and additions, coupled with the still prevalent lack of teachers and facilities, are telling of how much the K-12 program is not really helping anything at all,” Baguisi said.
Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino urged the government to first deal with the shortages in textbooks, teachers, classrooms and other critical learning resources before adding two more years to high school.
The Aquino administration, Palatino said in a statement, has yet to launch a program that effectively solves the teacher, classroom and textbook shortages.
“How can basic education qualitatively function amid these dire shortages?” he asked.
He pointed out that students cannot properly learn without teachers, classrooms, chairs, and textbooks.