Primer: What you should know about the K to 12 senior high school | Inquirer News

Primer: What you should know about the K to 12 senior high school

(First of two parts)

Monday is the nationwide enrolment date for the very first batch of Grade 11, according to Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro. This time, the students should go to their schools of choice and enroll in their preferred tracks, unlike the preregistration in October which was done online.


For readers who need to understand the new senior high school system, in particular parents who are seeking the best educational opportunities for their children, here’s an overview of the program which caps the country’s most massive education reform to-date.

Senior high school (SHS) refers to Grades 11 and 12, the last two years of the K-12 program that DepEd has been implementing since 2012. Students begin to study in SHS the subjects that will introduce them to their preferred career path.


High school in the old system consisted of First Year to Fourth Year. What corresponds to those four years today are Grades 7 to 10, also known as junior high school (JHS).

Take note now: “Senior high” has two grade levels and no longer means just the very last year of high school; “junior high” has four grade levels and does not mean just the second to the last year of high school.

To further explain: Under Republic Act No. 10533 (Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013), you will have to complete Kindergarten, Grades 1 to 6 (elementary), Grades 7 to 10 (junior high school) and Grades 11 to 12 (senior high school)—in all 13 years—before you can receive a high school diploma.

Is SHS compulsory?

Students cannot be forced to spend two more years in school, but if they stop at Grade 10, they will only receive a JHS certificate, not a high school diploma.

Students who belong to the K-12 generation but do not complete Grade 12 will be disadvantaged in that they will not be accepted into a college degree or technical-vocational certificate program without a  SHS diploma. They will also miss out on an opportunity to learn skills that can qualify them for employment right after SHS, or prepare them for starting up a business.

Why did some private schools graduate Fourth Year high school students this year who are going on to university in the coming school year? Aren’t they supposed to be in Grade 11 of the new K-12 program, just like the Grade 10 graduates of public high schools?


The DepEd allowed private schools that, prior to K-12 implementation, already had seven years of elementary plus four years of high school (not to mention Kinder and pre-Kinder) to go through a transition program so their students who were in Fourth Year and supposed to graduate from high school at the end of SY 2015-16 could go on to college.

This was possible because those students had gone through more than 10 years of basic education. The schools had either Grade 7 or an international K-12 program, such as an International Baccalaureate (IB) program. The DepEd evaluated their curriculum vis-à-vis the K-12 curriculum.

Likewise, there are public schools that were early implementors of SHS whose students will be college freshmen in SY 2016-17. The full list of these schools is on the DepEd website.

Does that mean colleges and universities will have freshman enrollees in SY 2016-17?

Yes, the graduates of the private schools who were allowed to recalibrate their curriculum to include SHS specializations will be among the incoming college freshmen this school year.

Also, students who graduated from high school in the years before 2015-2016 and have never been to college are being enticed to enroll by the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd). Every year, 500,000 high school graduates don’t go to college. They form a sizable chunk of the group the CHEd calls “lifelong learners.”

If they have always wanted to go to college, this is a good time to do it. The monies for scholarships are there, with only a few takers. Check the CHEd and the Philippine Business for Education websites for scholarships.

What are the preregistration data for incoming Grade 11?

In October last year, 1.5 million incoming Grade 11 students preregistered. Of this number, only 320,000 are from private schools. The majority are from public schools, 75 percent of whom said their first choice was to stay in the public school system.


Does the DepEd have enough public SHS to accommodate them?

The DepEd built 200 new, stand-alone public SHS, mostly in catchment areas. So out of 8,000 public high schools, only 25 percent will not offer SHS mainly because there is no land on which to build additional facilities.

Grade 11 students who reside where there are no DepEd schools have the option of going to a private SHS, together with the 25 percent whose preregistration preference is to move to a private school.

Are there enough private SHS?

There is a sufficient number because, in addition to the already existing private high schools that are now offering both junior and senior high schools, there are SHS attached to higher education institutes (HEIs), state universities and colleges (SUCs), local universities and colleges (LUCs) and technical vocational institutes (TVIs).

How did the DepEd determine which private schools could offer SHS?

The DepEd did not just give its blind approval, according to Assistant Secretary Elvin  Uy. Private schools had to apply for a permit to offer SHS and the DepEd did individual vetting. The department went through the applicant school’s profile, track record, physical and human resources, among other things, to determine if it is capable of SHS education.

The DepEd approved the application of 4,761 out of more than 5,000 non-DepEd schools.  As Uy said, if the teachers and facilities were there, the DepEd did not turn down schools unless they had a history of bad performance. Also, the permit is legally provisional, meaning the DepEd can revoke it anytime there is reasonable cause to do so.

Parents should check online ( if the private schools where they want to enroll their children have been approved by the DepEd. They should also find out what specific SHS programs the schools are permitted to offer. The permit should state that information.

How much will SHS cost?

SHS is free for students who go to public schools, just like the earlier grades. For private SHS students, costs will vary by school but they may avail of some government tuition subsidy upon request.

What kind of financial assistance is being extended to public school students who opt to transfer to a private SHS?

Grade 10 completers from public schools who want to enroll in a private or non-DepEd SHS automatically qualify for financial assistance through the SHS voucher program. All Grade 10 completers from private schools may also apply for a voucher.

According to the Department of Budget and Management, P12.2 billion has been set aside for the SHS voucher program.

What is the SHS voucher?

The SHS voucher represents funds that will cover the tuition, or a part of it, when public school students enroll in non-DepEd SHS. Expenses such as daily allowance and transportation cost are not part of the deal.

The voucher is not a physical piece of paper that can be transacted like cash, but its monetary value may be enough to cover the full cost of SHS tuition and miscellaneous fees at a private institution, depending on its location. It will be released directly to the non-DepEd schools where Grade 11 voucher recipients choose to enroll.

Public school Grade 10 completers and all private school Grade 10 completers who are Education Service Contracting (ESC) grantees need not apply as they are automatically qualified to receive the vouchers.

Although more than 50,000 vouchers have been awarded according to DepEd, online applications have been reopened until May 6 to give more Grade 11 students the option to enrol in non-DepEd SHS.

To apply, go to, the Private Education Assistance Committee’s Online Voucher Application Portal.

Applications will be until May 6 only. Results will be announced on or before May 20.

Will the voucher program allow students to choose a school?

The voucher program will allow students to choose any private or non-DepEd school granted a permit by the DepEd to offer SHS if they decide not to go to a public SHS where no vouchers are required.

How much is the SHS voucher worth?

The voucher value varies depending on the location of the SHS where it will be used and the type of voucher recipient.

The full value of the voucher in the National Capital Region is P22,500. In highly urbanized cities outside NCR, the voucher is worth P20,000.  In all other cities and municipalities, its value is P7,500.

Students who finished Grade 10 at public schools qualify for 100 percent of the voucher value, meaning if they prefer to go to any private SHS in NCR, they are entitled to a voucher amount of P22,500.  Grade 10 completers from private schools will qualify for only 80 percent, or P18,000.

Grade 11 students who choose to enroll at SHS attached to SUCs or LUCs will qualify for only 50 percent of the voucher value. For example, University of Makati will only be paid 50 percent of P22,500 when it enrolls a Grade 10 completer whether the student comes from either a public or private school.

For how long can a student avail of the SHS voucher?

The voucher is good for use only in the school year immediately following Grade 10.

Students can avail of the voucher for two successive school years only. So if a student fails Grade 11, the voucher program will not cover the Grade 12 tuition anymore.

But students can always enroll at a public SHS for free or at a private or non-DepEd schools at their own expense.

What is the assurance to parents that the SHS voucher program will be continued by the next administration?

The SHS voucher program is not just a stop-gap answer to a problem, according to the DepEd. First, the program is in the law. Second, it has been difficult historically to slash budgets for programs that are running and working, and the voucher is fast becoming a popular program because it opens up choices for students and provides financial assistance to learners.

The DepEd has approved 50,000 voucher applications—essentially every student who submitted all requirements. Because the program is needs-based, the department did not look at grades.

The spirit of the voucher is very simple, said Uy: The government spends for students who go to public schools; if students go to private schools, the government should still fund them if they need to be supported.

Direct questions regarding the SHS voucher program to [email protected] or to the DepEd Action Center at  6361663 or  6331942.



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TAGS: Br. Armin Luistro, Commission on Higher Education, Department of Education, DepEd, Education, Grade 11, junior high school, K-12 program, School opening, Senior High School
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