Latest Stories

K to 12 program goal: Jobs for high school graduates


Malacañang’s keeper of the purse once likened the Philippine education system to a frog in a kettle put to a boil.

“The frog will not know it is dying until it is too late,” Florencio “Butch” Abad told me in 2007, two years after he left the Arroyo administration in a mass desertion of Cabinet secretaries.

Abad, the current budget secretary who headed the Department of Education (DepEd) under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for a year, then described the situation as “dismal.”

The question is, Is the frog out of the kettle? Is the DepEd, midway through the administration of President Aquino, finally moving to lift the quality of Philippine education, seeing to it that every child is able to read and find a job after high school, just like in First World countries?

“Yes,” said Alice Alafriz Pañares, a consultant in the department’s K to 12 program—kindergarten, six years of elementary, four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school. “So many things have happened.”

Last month, Aquino signed the law officially adopting the program that seeks to align the Philippines’ basic education program with the 12-year international norm.

For the first time since the Commonwealth era, the country is dropping the 10-year cycle whose lone holdouts are Angola and Djibouti.

“All those years, we had been waiting for this,” said Pañares, who served under seven education secretaries before she retired recently and became a private sector representative in the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

In addition to K to 12, the DepEd also is adopting the mother tongue of a particular locality as the medium of instruction from Grades 1 to 3, eschewing the traditional bilingual approach using English and Filipino in a nation with a lingua franca for each of the 17 regions. For starters, 12 languages are on tab.

“This is very significant,” Pañares said.

“For the first time, we have a President who did not renege on his word, on his promise to improve our education system. And he will not even be there when all of these initiatives bear fruit,” she said. “My feeling is the ball game has changed, the rules have changed. It’s very positive.”

She acknowledged problems in implementation, “like in everything else when you start from zero.”

“There are jagged lines of ups and downs,” Pañares said.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro said last month that in addition to the K-to-12 birth pangs, there were the perennial shortages.

Critics said classroom shortfall ran to 32,000, teachers 61,000 and textbooks 60 million as the new school year opened last week for more than 25 million students.


The new program was rolled out last year in Grades 1 and 7 (the first year of junior high) in mostly catch-as-catch-can fashion, according to interviews conducted by the Inquirer with teachers reported in a series of four articles last week. Improvisation was the name of the game.

Antonio Calipjo Go, the academic supervisor of Marian School of Quezon City, laments that the implementation of the program presaged an “impending disaster” unless stopgap measures are adopted immediately.

This self-styled “sick books” crusader zeroed in on the subject close to his heart—textbooks, declaring that they had been “at the very heart of the rot that’s infecting Philippine education and making it sick.”

Little has been done, he said in letters to the Inquirer and concerned authorities, to publish textbooks conforming to the new curriculum.

Old titles remain in use, some of them he had earlier critiqued. Go cited “English for You and Me,” which he had pilloried in June 2009, calling it “English for Carabaos or Flip-glish.”

“It is high time the DepEd issues new textbook calls to replace all the textbooks presently being used in all the major subjects, select only the best from among the submitted entries, and proceed to do what is mandated by the Constitution and moral law—to teach what is right,” he said in an essay accompanying a letter to the Inquirer on Aug. 31, 2012.


He said he reviewed the “Learning Package for Grade 7 English, First and Second Semesters.” The 172-page teaching aid for teachers in what is now first year junior high in the new 12-year curriculum was riddled with 658 solecisms—or an average of 3.8 errors per page, said Go, who has mounted a crusade against books “lost in translation,” even using P1 million out of his own pocket to expose in paid newspaper advertisement the anomalous materials.


– An embedded clause is a clause that is fixed within a larger clause or sentence which is called the matrix clause. The embedded clause is usually found in the beginning or at the end of sentences. Markers introduce embedded clauses, but there are instances when a marker does not precede an embedded clause. Such is the case with gerunds.

– Witness a moonlight memory of a lifetime. This is not your usual walk in the bay.

– Carlo declared his imperishable love to Carlita.

– A humorous proverb: “I was formerly a gentleman without a care at all but when I got married, my body shrank and became small.”

When I interviewed Butch Abad in the dimly lit dining room of his Quezon City home after he had quit the Arroyo administration over charges the President stole the 2004 elections, he rued embarrassments of the education system.

Half of the Philippine student population then was not even in school; a national test on reading given to about a million Grade 6 students in 2003 showed that 99.4 percent of them were unprepared to enter high school and that their level of proficiency was only at Grade 4; teachers who did not wish to be accused of incompetence gave “wholesale” passing marks.

The late Education Secretary Raul Roco launched in 2002, after years of study, a new basic curriculum that reduced the 10 subjects taught in public schools to five—English, science, mathematics, social studies and Filipino. Art, music, history, physical education and culture were crammed under social studies.

The objective was to foster “functional literacy,” to make every child a reader, able to understand and apply in daily life the result of reading and numeracy.

Achievement rates

Efforts were made to improve proficiency in science, math and English after tests revealed the nation’s young were lagging behind in standards, even in its own backyard in Southeast Asia.

But the latest basic education statistics released by DepEd showed that the achievement rate for school year 2011-12 indicated little improvement over the  past five years—66.79 percent for mathematics, 66.47 percent in science, and 66.11 percent for English.

Incidentally, the cohort survival rate at 73.46 percent in the past year was down from 75.26 percent five years before, in spite of the vaunted P20-billion conditional cash transfer (CCT) program to keep children in schools. The CCT fund this year is around P40 billion.

Completion rate—the percentage of pupils who are able to finish their studies—was down at 70.96 percent from 73.06 percent over the five-year period.

“The country does not really fully appreciate the value of education,” said Jose V. Abueva, former president of the University of the Philippines who now runs Kalayaan College, a hole-in-the-wall in Quezon City’s teeming Cubao district.

“We always want to assume that as the Constitution says the state shall guarantee the quality of education. But in terms of allocation of resources, we are far below what other countries invest in education, especially Singapore,” the 85-year-old Abueva said.

“If we don’t invest enough and we pay our teachers and professors inadequate salaries, the result would be the kind of inferior education that we have and our value system,” he said in an interview in his tight office, his desk filled with mountains of papers.

Topsy-turvy values

According to the World Bank, the Philippines spends $138 (P6,650) per student per year compared to $853 (P41,110) in Thailand, $1,800 (P86,751) in Singapore and $5,000 (P240,975) in Japan.

“Our media are always glamorizing and publicizing people in entertainment, cinema, artista … . So in the people’s value system, they are the most important people. Educators, scientists and researchers are nowhere to be found in the newspapers, compared to celebrities,” Abueva said.

“The people’s value system goes over into politics—celebrity, popularity, personality, name recall, ‘winnability.’ They don’t talk about politics, ideas and institutional changes. People with quality, like Jun Magsaysay, wala (nothing), compared to Chiz Escudero and Heart Evangelista,” he said of the May 13 senatorial elections.

“And media project this almost every day. That’s why our value system is topsy-turvy.”

An ardent advocate of the parliamentary system, Abueva said the country needed “transforming leaders” that would rebuild the nation’s institutions—a prescription for inclusive economic growth and political maturity in the best-selling book “Why Nations Fail” by Robinson and Acemoglu.

Newspapers trivialize proposals to amend the Constitution, he said, calling the exercise “Cha-cha, a dance.”

The immediate goal in all the current education initiatives, in the view of consultant Pañares, is simply to provide the youth with the wherewithal to get past high school so they could get decent jobs.

“A lot of our high school graduates—70 percent—do not go to college,” Pañares said. Under the new K to 12 program, they would at least be assured of a vocational certificate that would enable them to land jobs, she said. “Now they have a chance… . They will not be a burden.”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Department of Education (DepEd) , Educations , K to 12 , Philippines

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  2. Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  3. Palace prepared to charge its allies
  4. Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  5. Napoles turnaround alarms whistle-blowers
  6. What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  7. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  8. Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  9. HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  10. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima


  • 4 Etihad passengers not yet located
  • DAR to complete installation of Luisita land reform beneficiaries in May
  • Ex-COA chief and co-accused in Arroyo plunder case nabbed
  • Kris Aquino’s ex- close in security named new Air Force chief
  • The ‘link diagram’ that killed ex-Bataan police officer
  • Sports

  • NLEX holds off Jumbo Plastic for a playoff berth
  • Pacquiao can dodge tax issues
  • F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges
  • Big Chill freezes Cafe France to arrest skid
  • Pacquiao has to go through PBA Rookie draft
  • Lifestyle

  • A haven for steak lovers
  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • DOLE sees more Filipinos hired by South Koreans
  • Filipinos second-shortest in Southeast Asia
  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • Marketplace