IN RECENT years, there have been plenty of reforms in the education sector. There is the Department of Education’s thrust towards higher participation rate through the Education for All (EFA) agenda. In Mindanao, the Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM) instituted the formation of the School Governing Council (SGC), which rendered the management and improvement of public schools a shared accountability of the local community. This year, the Understanding by Design (UbD) model in teaching — a student-centered approach — was piloted to first year students in all public high schools in the country. Also, the Congress has passed a bill to raise the teachers’ salary, which will be fully implemented next year.
The current plan of adding two more years in the Basic Education Curriculum might finally convince the skeptics that our government is paying attention to the education sector. However, whether this reform will prosper or not still lies on how well the plan is laid out and how sincere the government is in implementing it.
But what exactly is the Enhanced K+12 Basic Education Program?
Enhanced and Decongested Curriculum
The Enhanced K+12 Basic Education Program restructures the current curriculum in Elementary and Secondary schools in the Philippines. The curriculum includes Kindergarten, 6 years of elementary education, 4 years of Junior High School, and 2 years of Senior High School.
According to the discussion paper published by the DepEd, this program is an enhanced and decongested version of the current curriculum. The current curriculum is so loaded with competencies that are to be taught within 10 years. As a result, the students do not learn very well as evidenced by the results of tests administered by the NETRC and TIMSS.
The Enhanced K+12 Basic Education Program is seen to be at par with international standards. According to reports, our neighbors in Asia, including Timor-Leste, have a 12-year basic education.
As part of the steps in carrying out this plan, the curriculum will have to got through thorough review and will have to be validated in its pilot run for Grade I and First Year High School in School Year 2011-2012. The teachers will also have to undergo trainings on the new curriculum.
Employable and Better-Skilled Graduates
Another goal of the Enhanced K+12 Curriculum is to produce graduates who are better equipped with life skills and could be legally employed. The Senior High School (SHS) component of the curriculum will provide the students with specialized trainings in science and technology, music and arts, agriculture and fisheries, sports, and business and entrepreneurship.
In other words, high school education will no longer be viewed as preparatory stage for college. Those who have completed basic education would have a choice to proceed to higher studies, to go to work, or to start an entrepreneurial venture.
As I see it, Adding two more years in the Basic Education is like sending all the students to a two-year technical education. Completing the K+12 curriculum would be finishing the current basic education program and a two-year technical-vocational education with the government spending for it. The graduates would then decide if they would continue to earn a college degree, to start working, or both.
Those who aim to get a college degree would have to spend to more years in high school. That means, it would take them two years longer to get a degree than with the current system. It also means that they would be better prepared for college because — if the design of the curriculum is effective — they would have gained knowledge, skills, and maturity for higher learning.
Those who do not have plans of going to college could choose to work or start a business. With the Enhanced K+12 curriculum, the graduates are expected to be better prepared for work of entrepreneurial endeavors. The education sector will also coordinate with the business sector to change their hiring practices and recognize the enhanced skills and trainings of the K+12 graduates.
The proponents of this reform see the economic implications of the Enhanced K+12 Basic Education Program to the individuals and families, and to the whole nation as well.
This is the first part of the series of articles I will write about this significant education issue. In this post, I introduced the Enhanced K+12 Basic Education Program based on the Discussion Paper published by the DepEd during the celebration of the World Teachers’ Day,October 5. In my next posts, I will attempt to explore the necessary preparations that the whole education must do before this reform pushes through. I will also try to look into the public perception with regards this developments in the education sector.