K to 12 system: Grades 1 and 7 teachers face challengeBy Niña Calleja
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Despite official claims of a smoother school opening on Monday, some Grades 1 and 7 teachers said the great challenge ahead was the lack of materials to help them cope with what proponents of the K to 12 system called a “spiraling approach” to learning.
Olie Daz, a teacher in first year high school, now called Grade 7, at Rajah Soliman High School in Tondo, Manila, said she still had to reproduce the instructional materials the Department of Education (DepEd) issued during a weeklong training program last month.
“We were never given textbooks or handouts for the new curriculum. So my problem now is to photocopy the instructional materials for the 200 students. It might cost a lot,” Daz said, noting she was still unsure if she would be shouldering the cost or pass it on to her students.
Imelda Paddayunan, a Grade 1 teacher at Toro Hills Elementary School in Project 8, Quezon City, said she was still confused on how to teach her subjects, describing a training program she attended from May 28 to June 1 as “hastily done.”
“We are not yet ready,” she told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
But there were also teachers who were up to the challenge. “Yes, it’s difficult. But it’s always our job to innovate and improve our way of teaching,” Maria Luz Cruz, a Grade 7 teacher of Rizal National High School in Pasig City.
She said she had already written her own lesson plans for the new curriculum.
These teachers are among the 150,000 who will be working the year round on the new curriculum for Grade 1 and Grade 7 as part of the DepEd’s gradual implementation of the K to 12 education program, replacing the old 10-year system.
They are expected to teach the new curriculum to the Grade 1 and 7 students this school year even if they were trained only for the lessons intended to be taught in the first and second quarters.
The Grade 7 students, estimated to reach 1.66 million, are in the first year of the four-year junior high and will be the first batch of students to enter the additional two-year senior high school.
More training needed
“A series of training programs will still follow and we still have three to four months before the second semester starts. We still have enough time,” DepEd Assistant Secretary for Planning Jesus Mateo told the Inquirer.
Mateo noted that Grade 1 and 7 students may use the old textbooks as subject reference.
The DepEd has developed a curriculum for Grade 7 that embodied a “spiraling approach” where different subjects like Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Earth Science will be tackled.
Under the old curriculum, Earth Science is taught in the first year, Biology in the second, Chemistry in the third and Physics in the last year.
The same goes with Mathematics, where basic concepts of General Math, Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry are integrated into one.
“These are no longer separate subjects since in real life, we are not applying them separately,” Education Secretary Armin Luistro told reporters during his visits to three public schools in Pasig.
For Grade 1, on the other hand, subjects will be taught for the first time in the pupil’s mother tongue while subjects like Health and Science will be integrated with other subjects.
Benjie Valbuena, vice president of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), said the confusion arose because the teachers were ill-equipped to adapt to these changes.
“The teachers have no blueprint of that curriculum, no modules, only instructional materials and no textbooks so to speak. How do they expect us to proceed?” Valbuena told the Inquirer in a phone interview.
“We have been experiencing old problems under a new name,” Valbuena of the party-list group ACT which has been opposing the K to 12 system and prodding education officials to stop its implementation and focus instead on other matters like kindergarten, shortages in classrooms, teachers and other school necessities.
Sought for reaction, Luistro said the DepEd had heard and addressed the concerns.
“There will always be negative comments from the moment we started this and until it is already complete,” he said.
He was hopeful that the enabling law of the K to 12 program, which is still pending at the Senate and House of Representatives, would be enacted before 2016 when the DepEd would begin requiring the additional two years in all private and public high schools.
“But we don’t need that law right now in order to revise the current curriculum,” he said.
Accompanied by other officials on Monday morning, Luistro briefly sat in classes, checked the water from faucets, and gave lectures to some students as he made the rounds at Ilugin Elementary School, Pinagbuhatan High School and Rizal National High School in Pasig.
Rizalino Rosales, officer in charge of DepEd in Metro Manila, said the number of congested schools, which were forced to have triple shifts to deal with classroom shortage, declined from 20 to only 9 this year.
“By the time the construction of classrooms in these schools is complete, they no longer need to resort to having triple shifts,” he said, noting that teachers and students would have more “contact time.”
The shortage of teachers, on the other hand, was filled by the 20,000 volunteer teachers hired by the DepEd and the additional teachers who were being paid through the local government unit’s school board funds.
A veteran preschool teacher, Baby Dimapawi, expressed reservations over the new K to 12 program, saying she feared the integrated curriculum and the additional hour of school for the students, 5 years old on the average, may not be able to grasp the concepts well.
In the past years, students in the kindergarten class of Baby Dimapawi, 62, who taught at a public preschool in Makati City, came at 7:30 a.m. and left two hours later. Classes now start at 6 a.m. and end three hours later. Three more such sessions follow, ending at 6 p.m.
“When I learned that [authorities] were placing another hour into the kinder class, I asked myself ‘what am I going to do with another hour?’” she said, chuckling.
“From my experience, a child usually is attentive in class for one-and-a-half hours,” she continued. “After recess, they usually ask if it’s time to go home.” With a report from Miko Morelos