MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/25 March) – Provincial board members chastised the Department of Education’s proposed “K+12” program, which will extend the present 10 years of elementary and high school to 12 years.
Dr. Ingrid Racoma, DepEd Bukidnon schools division superintendent, presented the proposed program at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan last Wednesday.
Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. said the plan is good but DepEd must fix the quality of education first before thinking of extending the school years to the detriment of the poor.
The DepEd proposal espouses the K-6-4-2 model, which involves Kindergarten, six years of elementary education, four years of junior high school (Grades 7 to 10) and two years of senior high school (Grades 11 to 12).
According to its discussion paper, K+12’s two years of senior high school is meant to provide time for students to consolidate acquired academic skills and competencies. The curriculum to be used in the two years will allow specializations in science and technology, music and arts, agriculture and fisheries, sports, business and entrepreneurship.
Zubiri questioned DepEd’s lack of funding for classrooms, facilities and quality teachers.
He said two more years in basic education might increase the number of dropouts.
He pushed for a resolution urging higher budget to address the problem of quality education.
Racoma said he subscribes to Zubiri’s proposed resolution. She admitted the shortage of classrooms, facilities and teachers in the province even if they are mandated to advocate for the proposed K+12 program to decongest the present curriculum “to meet international standards.”
But Racoma said DepEd’s K+12 program is a long overdue move for the Philippines.
She cited several surveys and recommendations since 1925 to add two years to the country’s basic education. Aside from the Philippines, Djibouti and Angola, both in Africa, are the only countries that have stuck with the 10-year basic education program.
Board member Roland Deticio hit the overcrowded classrooms and the multi-grade schemes, wherein one teacher simultaneously handles three grade levels.
Board member Jay Albarece said prolonging the school years will only “widen” the gap between the rich and the poor and might add to the problem of poverty.
Racoma said that on the contrary, K+12 assures that the poor will not be underemployed. She said many of the graduates of four-year courses are forced to land in positions that used to be taken by high school graduates or those who took two-year courses.
She cited as example graduates of education and commerce courses working as sales clerks in department stores.
Racoma said K+12 will prepare high school graduates for higher education, which is among the eight benefits they have promoted.
The program, she said, will decongest academic workload, giving students more time to master competencies and skills relevant to the job market, and thus may earn more.
She added that with K+12, Filipino graduates will also meet requirements of foreign schools if they study abroad, and thus will make the Philippine education system at par with international standards.
Racoma said the quality of education must really be improved by adding more budget for education. She noted that the K+12 program is still on consultation stage as there is no law yet passed on the program.
If approved, she said the implementation of the program will be phased.
She said they will require universal kindergarten for Grade 1 enrollees starting school year 2011 to 2012. Those who failed to take kindergarten will be asked to go through an eight-week program by summer.
She said by school year 2012 to 2013, they will implement the new curriculum to Grade 1 and first year high school students. Senior high school will be implemented starting school year 2016 to 2017. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)