MANILA, Philippines?The K+12 is going to be K+6+4+2.
Simply put, there will be six years of elementary school, four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school.
That was the plan that the Department of Education (DepEd) unveiled Tuesday to put the country?s basic education up to speed with the rest of the world, meaning 12 years from the current 10 years.
It?s not going to happen though until the Aquino administration?s term is over in 2016, when funding and transition measures are put in place, DepEd officials said.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro unveiled the 12-year model called K-6-4-2, the basic education cycle the department had been working on to fulfill a campaign promise by President Benigno Aquino III, to coincide with World Teachers? Day.
The program includes, not counting kindergarten, six years in elementary (Grades 1 to 6), four years in junior high school (Grades 7 to 10) and the additional two years in senior high (Grades 11 to 12) for specialized learning of employable skills.
The DepEd plans to create a K+12 Task Force, chaired by the department but with representation from different stakeholders, to flesh out details of the program?s phased implementation.
Curiously, Mr. Aquino did not mention the plan when he spoke before some 5,000 teachers earlier Tuesday.
As the implementation plan integrates a four-year transition program, the first batch of senior high school students is expected to be in the system by school year 2016-2017, officials said.
?The two years of senior high school intend to provide time for students to consolidate acquired academic skills and competencies. The curriculum will allow specialization in science and technology, music and arts, agriculture and fisheries, sports, business and entrepreneurship,? Luistro said in a news conference.
Planned since 1925
Citing the dismal performance of Filipino graduates, Luistro said the program hoped to lift the quality of Philippine education to international standards and graduate 18-year-olds holistically mature for employment.
This plan has been on the drawing boards since 1925, Luistro said.
The Philippines now is the only country in Asia with a 10-year education cycle, he said, falling behind compliance with international accords on education equivalency.
?We envision that our graduates will acquire mastery of basic competencies, be more emotionally mature, be socially aware, proactive and involved in public and civic affairs and be adequately prepared for the world of work, entrepreneurship or higher education, and be legally employable for better earnings,? Luistro said.
Luistro?s announcement capped two months of discussions with academics, education reform advocates and DepEd officials and marked the start of regional consultations that would culminate in a national summit early next year.
Government will then decide whether to pursue the plan, which officials said would also require the amendment of a 1982 law fixing basic education to at most 11 years.
Critics argued that the two-year extension was premature given the still unresolved shortages in classrooms, study materials, teachers and other resources, along with a high dropout rate.
K+12 supporters said that the extended cycle aimed to give students more time to study a curriculum that was crammed in the current 10 years.
?The biggest resource you are adding is time. Ten years is not enough. If we?re so smart going to 10, how come we?re not rich? How come we?re not more successful? We?ve fooled ourselves into thinking we can do it in 10 years,? said former Education Undersecretary Juan Miguel Luz.
Under the present system, Filipinos have to learn 20 percent more worth of lessons per year than children their age in other countries, he said.
Filipinos in general score dismally in achievement tests, and in international exams in math and science.
Not a final plan
According to DepEd?s implementation plan, 2011 will be a year spent on consultations, fine-tuning the initial draft and making a decision on whether or not to go ahead with the program based on public pulse, Luistro said.
By school year 2012-2013, students entering Grade 1 in elementary and first year in high school will be the first batches of 12-year cycle students. Other students already midstream will no longer be affected by the extension, said Education Undersecretary Yolanda Quijano.
?It is not a final plan. We will go to different regions and consult as much as possible. I don?t imagine that this plan is perfect, but it is a plan that is realistic enough, affordable and could bring different groups, different parties together,? Luistro said.
Undersecretary for Finance and Administration Francisco Varela said the estimated cost of additional classrooms and furniture was P44 billion. Another P15.1 billion will pay for additional teachers, P216 million textbooks and P1.8 billion on school maintenance and operations.
Savings for parents
The total amount is close to an estimate made by the Philippine Business for Education, a K+12 advocate that estimated a total cost (not annual as earlier reported) of between P56 billion and P65 billion for the construction of additional infrastructure.
Luistro said parents worried at the added expense should look at how the program could save them on college tuition.
?This is minus two instead of plus two. Parents spend for at least four years of college before they can have an employable child. In effect, look at it at the other point view, parents are actually saving two years of college education,? said Luistro.
?The benefits of the K+12 proposal far outweigh the additional costs that will be incurred by both government and families,? he said.
Asked if the additional of two years in high school will result in zero enrollment in college at certain years, Luistro said this was being threshed out in DepEd?s implementation plan.