K to 12 curriculum ‘too overcrowded’: Gatchalian seeks focus on Math, Reading

K to 12 curriculum 'too overcrowded': Gatchalian seeks focus on Math, Reading

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian (File photo from the Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — Citing what experts flagged as a “too overcrowded” K to 12 curriculum, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday pushed for more focus on younger students’ abilities to read and deal with numbers.

Gatchalian cited the observations of education experts who found that the K to 12 curriculum “needs decongesting” as it requires learners to study too many competencies, eventually affecting their capability to master basic abilities.

The senator, who is set to stay as chairman of the Senate basic education committee under the next Congress, raised this concern as the incoming administration said it would review the K to 12 program. Gatchalian said there is a need to refine the curriculum for Kindergarten to Grade 3 learners.

READ: ‘K-12 promises never fulfilled’: Gatchalian backs review of program

He also pointed to international assessments that showed that the country’s learners are struggling in the critical learning areas of Math and Reading.

He said this would lead to “negative and long-term” consequences for their future and the country.

READ: Gatchalian vows to push for oversight review of K-12 law

READ: DepEd eyes review of learning competencies in K-12 program

Proposal for learning recovery program

Gatchalian recalled filing Senate Bill No. 2355 or the proposed Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning (ARAL) Act during the 18th Congress to address learning loss amid the pandemic.

Under the bill, Gatchalian proposed literacy and numeracy as the focus of learning for Kindergarten learners to build on their foundational competencies.

The bill also seeks a learning recovery program covering the essential learning competencies under Language and Mathematics for Grades 1 to 10, while Science for Grades 3 to 10.

Reading will also be prioritized to develop learners’ critical and analytical thinking skills.

“Upang matugunan natin ang krisis sa sektor ng edukasyon, kailangan tutukan natin ang ating mga mag-aaral at tiyaking natututo sila nang husto. Kailangang matiyak natin na matatag ang kanilang pundasyon lalo na pagdating sa pagbasa at mga numero dahil dito nakasalalay ang marami pang mga bagay na dapat nilang tugunan,” Gatchalian said in a statement.

(To address the crisis in the education sector, we need to focus on our students and ensure they learn well. We need to ensure the stability of their foundation, especially in reading and numbers, because these competencies entail many things they need to know.)

In 2019, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study states that only 19 percent of Grade 4 learners in the Philippines met the minimum benchmark level required in Mathematics, Gatchalian noted.

Citing the data from the World Bank, the senator also said the learning poverty rate in the country for 2021 spiked at an estimated 90.5 percent, the percentage of children aged 10 and below who struggle to read or understand simple contexts.

With school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank warned that the learning poverty rate in middle-income countries, like the Philippines, will rise by 10 percent, he added. — with Iliana Padigos, INQUIRER.net intern