Back to school: Is the country ready for K-12?

Prior to the opening of classes, several schools committed that they are ready for the Senior High phase implementation of K-12. However, it is noticeable that not all seem to profess the same commitment.

June 13 marked the official start of classes for school year 2016-2017, but only 2 out of 10 public schools and 9 out of 10 private schools in the National Capital Region (NCR) were able to offer the newly implemented senior high level.

This educational shift aims to achieve three things: first, to improve the Philippine education to attain international level; second, to expand teaching methods through spiral progression approach; and third, to equip students with skills enough to be employed when they graduate as young as 18 years old.

Regardless of these promising things, the K-12 program and the Department of Education (DepEd) struggle with a grim fate it may end up into. Many believe that the government is not yet ready for this transition. In 2015, five petition cases were filed to the Supreme Court against this program.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro is happily welcomed by students of Datu Halun Laboratory Elementary School in Tawi-Tawi.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro is happily welcomed by students of Datu Halun Laboratory Elementary School in Tawi-Tawi.

Classroom shortage

The cries of the many goes like this: why implement something as complicated as the K-12 program when the department has yet to solve the shortage in schools and classrooms around the country?

In fact, outgoing Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro is aware of this, and many of the classrooms in operation are more than 50 years old and in need of demolition and reconstruction.

Last Monday, this problem was tackled again, with many schools throughout the country having at least two class sessions a day to accommodate all students. DepEd reiterated that with the budget allotted to them this year, they will be able to provide the needed 40,000 to 56,000 classrooms for the senior high school.

Teaching methods

The famous ‘spiral progression approach’ will be utilized in the K-12 program, where subject matters are taught in an increasing complexity. The subject matter is stretched to years of learning, making the retention of the information hard for the students. Also, the unabated issue of books full of erratic information still poses the question of whether the approach will be effective.

With the K-12 program, all textbooks of the old curriculum are now considered obsolete. DepEd received 3.7 billion as budget for book printing, double than the last year’s budget, with hopes to vastly improve the book’s content.

And with these curriculum changes, at least 25,000 teaching personnel will be retrenched. CHED plans to offer displaced teachers to take post-graduate studies for the meantime. DepEd, on the other hand, may hire them as basic education teachers, though their salaries may be decreased in half.

Matriculation

Additional two years of education equates to additional two years of expenses. Students of public senior high schools will spend around P100,000 in two years, and students in private schools may need to double that quotation because of higher matriculation.

DepEd created the Voucher Program to subsidize tuition, ranging from P8,750 to P22,000, helping students to lessen their expenses. Each student will be given a unique number for security and identification.

With 1.2 million graduates of junior high school this year, public senior high school can only accommodate 800,000 of them. Sadly the rest will need to go to private schools, dealing with a more expensive tuition.

As the academic year opens, only 432,000 students have enrolled nationwide, less than 400,000 of the expected number. Luistro explains that not all schools have submitted their reports to DepEd, thus the present number.

A lot of problems strike the K-12 program, and the government offers all solutions it can get. This education reform is a noble cause indeed, so let’s hope for the best so the youth can attain the finest education that they deserve. (Luke Godoy)

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