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abel d soto
abel soto THE ENHANCED K-12 program, or the Department of Education's (DepEd) proposal to overhaul the basic and secondary education curriculum by adding two more years to the system is arguably one of the most drastic and controversial programs of the Aquino administration.

The program is proposed to start in school year 2012-2013 for Grade 1 and first year high school students with the target of full implementation by SY 2018-2019.

K-12 has been met with criticisms from youth and student groups, teachers, parents and the academic community. The DepEd, for its part, appears determined to enact the program with its proposed budget catering mostly to preparing the grounds for its eventual implementation.

The DepEd argues that the K-12 program will be the solution to yearly basic education woes and the deteriorating quality of education. Critics, however, counteract that the education crisis needs to be addressed more fundamentally and adding more school years would only exacerbate the situation.

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Ang modelong K-12 ay isang sistemang pang-edukasyon para sa Basic at Secondary Education na hango sa Estados Unidos, Canada at sa ibang bahagi ng Australia. Ang kasalukuyang sistema sa Basic at Secondary Education ay isa ring "archetype" ng Amerikanong sistema, ngunit ito may sampung taong siklo lamang.

Ikinakatuwiran ng DepEd na panahon na para kupkupin ang sistemang K-12 at iniuugnay ang pangangailangang ito sa "low achievement scores" at sa mababang kalidad ng Basic Education sa kasalukuyang sistema ng ating edukasyon sa bansa. Kasunod ng mga malawakang protesta sa mungkahing ito ng DepEd, inilabas ng DepEd ang opisyal nitong tayo na nagtatanggol sa implementasyon ng K-12 sa ating bansa.

Ang mga sumusunod ay mga argument at ang mga kontra-argumento mula sa mga kritiko:

Ang K-12 ay lulutas sa taunang paglaki ng bilang ng mga "out-of-school youth" (OSY). Subalit ang mga mag-aaral at mga magulang at nagrereklamo na ang K-12 ay magiging karagdagang pabigat sa mga maralitang pamilyang Pilipino.

Bagamat libre ang pampbulikong edukasyon, isang grupong politikal ang nag-estima na ang isang mag-aaral ay mangangailangan pa rin ng P20,000 kada-taon para matugunan ang gastos sa trasportasyon, pagkain, gamit-pampaaralan, at iba pang mga gastusin sa pag-aaral.

Ayon pa rin sa Family Income Expenditure Survey, prayoridad ng mga pamilya ang paggastos sa pagkain at iba pang mga "basic needs" ng kanilang mga anak para sa gastusing pampaaralan. Ang dalawang taong karagdagan sa Basic Education ay tiyak na mangangahulugan sa mas mataas ng "dropout rate."

Ang K-12 ay makatutugon sa "low achievement rates" at sa "poor academic performance" ng mga mag-aaral sa elementarya at sekondarya. Iginigiit ng DepEd na ang mababang kalidad ng edukasyon nakita sa "low achievement scores" ng mga mag-aaral. Subalit ang resulta sa TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) ay sinasalungat ang kaugnayan ng bilang ng taon sa paaralan at ang mataas ng kalidad ng edukasyon sa ating bansa.

Ayon sa resulta ng TIMSS, ang haba ng pag-aaral ay hindi tahasang nangangahulugan ng mas mataas na marka. Sa katunayan, may mga bansang kagaya o mas maikling bilang ng taon ang nagtamo ng pinakamataas na marka samantalang ang mga paaralang nagpapatupad ng modelong K-12 ay nakakuha mga mas mababang marka.

Ayon pa rin sa isang pag-aaral na isinagawa ni dating Deputy Education Minister Abraham I. Felipe at ng Fund for Assistance to Private Education (FAPE) Executive Director Carolina C. Porio, ang mga pangunahing argumentong inilahad ng DepEd sa K-12 ay pawang "impressionistic and erroneous" dahil walang tahasan at malinaw na korelasyon sa pagitan ng haba ng pag-aaral at sa dekalidad na gawain ng mga mag-aaral sa paaralan.

Ipinakikita ng pag-aaral na ang mga mag-aaral sa ika-apat na baitang mula sa Australia ay may mga respetadong marka sa kabila ng mayroon lamang isang taong "pre-schooling," samantalang ang bansang Morocco (dalawang taong "pre-schooling"), ang Norway (tatlong taon), at ang mga bansang Amerika at Slovenia (kapwa may apat na taong pre-schooling) ay nakakuha ng mga mas mabababang marka kaysa sa bansang Australia. Ang South Korea na mayroon magkatulad na haba ng taon sa Basic Education kagaya ng Pilipinas ay siyang nakakuha ng pinakamataas na marka sa TIMSS, samantalang ang mga bansang Ghana, Morocco, Botswana, at Saudi Arabia (tatlong taon ng "pre-schooling") ay nakakuha ng mas mabababang marka.

Samantala, ang mga marka ng mga Pilipinong mag-aaral ay mas mababa kaysa sa mga labintatlong bansang may mas maikling siklo sa elementary kagaya ng Russia, Armenia, Latvia, Slovak Republika, Slovenia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Moldova, Italy, Egypt at Iran.

Sa bahagdan naman ng High School, ang Singapore na mayroon ding apat na taong siklo sa High School ay nakakuha ng pinaka-mataas na marka. At ang kabalintunaan pa rito ay kasama ng Pilipinas sa mga nakakuha ng mas mababang marka sa TIMSS ay ang mga bansang South Africa, Chile, Palestine, Morocco, at Saudi Arabia na may mas mahabang siklo ng High School kaysa sa Pilipinas.

Para naman sa bahagdan ng "pre-college," ang Pilipinas ay nakakuha rin ng mababang marka sa TIMSS, ngunit gayon din naman ang Estados Unidos na may "15-year basic and secondary education cycle." Ang mga mag-aaral mula sa mga bansang Singapore, South Korea, Japan, at Hong Kong na lahat ay may mas maikling siklo ng edukasyon ay nakakuha ng mas mataas na marka kaysa sa mga mag-aaral mula sa Estados Unidos.

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The DepEd has enough resources to implement the K-12. Interestingly, countries whose students got high scores in the TIMSS were the ones whose governments allotted high public spending for education.

Despite nominal increases in the total education budget, the government has been spending less per capita on education. The real spending per capita per day dropped to P6.85 in 2009.

From 2001 to 2009, education's portion in the national budget has steadily decreased. This pales in comparison to neighboring countries – Malaysia, 7.4 percent and Thailand, 4 percent. It is also lower than the four percent average for all countries that were included in the World Education Indicators in 2006. The country is also lagging behind its Asian counterparts in public expenditure on education as a percentage of total public spending.

In a statement, President Benigno Aquino III said that his administration is prioritizing education and, as proof, the DepEd budget will increase by P32 billion in 2011.

However, according to Anakbayan spokesperson Charisse Banez, "Even if you combine the DepEd and SUCs (state college and universities) budgets, it will only equal to three percent of the GDP, a far cry from the six percent GDFP-amount advocated by the United Nations."

The UN Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) recommend that governments spend at least six percent of their GDP for education.

Former education secretary Mona Valisno stated in a separated study that DepEd needs at least P100 billion to fully address the shortage of 93,599 classrooms and 134,400 seats and P63 million for textbooks and scholarships.

Proponents of the program allude to the experience of St. Mary's Sagada, a school implementing K-12 that has been topping the National Achievement Test in Mountain Province. However, aside from the K-12, the school also has a 1:20 teacher to student ratio and is not suffering any sort of shortage in faculty or facilities.

Critics of the K-12 assert that while government resources have been found wanting and insufficient for the present 10-year cycle, how will it be able to afford to fund a K-12 model?

The K-12 will open doors for more jobs for the youth, even without a college diploma.

DepEd says that a K-12 program will improve the chances for youth employment as it is aimed to improve technical-vocational skills through focusing on arts, aquaculture and agriculture, among others. The K-12, it further states, will ensure that students graduating at the age of 18 will have jobs, thus making them "employable" even without a college degree.

However, critics are quick to note that the Philippines, that has a predominantly young population, also has the highest overall unemployment rate in East Asia and the Pacific Region. According to World Bank study, the country also has the highest youth unemployment rate. Young Filipino workers are twice as likely to be unemployed than those in older age groups as they figure in the annual average of at least 300,000 new graduates that add up to the labor force.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported in 2008 that 50 percent of the unemployed 2.7 million nationwide were aged 15 to 24. Of these, 461,000 or 35 percent had college degrees while about 700,000 unemployed youth either finished high school or at least reached undergraduate levels.

Therefore, the persistent high unemployment rates, may not be necessarily linked with the present 10-year cycle but instead with the country's existing economic system and the government's job generation policies.

Filipino graduates will be automatically recognized as "professionals" abroad. In the present 10-year cycle, the DepEd argues, the quality of education is reflected in the "inadequate preparation of high school graduates for the world of work or entrepreneurship or higher education."

What the K-12 program aims to achieve, therefore, is to reinforce cheap semi-skilled labor for the global market. With young workers, mostly semi-skilled and unskilled workers now making up an estimated 10.7 percent of the total Filipino labor migrant population, it comes as no surprise then that the government is now programming its youth to servicing needs of the global market.

Labor migration, however, has resulted in the brain drain of Filipino skilled workers and professionals. Ironically, while the DepEd and the government mouths a so-called "professionalization" of the young labor force in foreign markets, their significance to domestic development and nation-building is sadly being undervalued at the expense of providing cheap labor under the guise of providing employment.

While proponents and advocates hail the K-12 model as the "saving grace" of youth unemployment, critics argue that it will only aggravate the country's dependence on labor export and the inflow of remittances that do not necessarily contribute to substantive and sustainable nation-building.

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While I am not totally against the implementation of K-12 (what I cringe about this K-12 is the hasty implementation and the lack of the necessary and significant preparation for its implementation), there are a few questions that I am grappling with: Will the additional budget requirement be achieved by DepEd? Will the private sector support being counted on to fill in that budget gap really materialize? And what if the target budget is not met? What then?

With the free education for the additional two years, won't we see students currently in private schools moving to the public schools due to the rising tuition of private schools? Has this possibility been factored into the budget requirements of DepEd?

With moves by governments like the United States, which is currently suffering from a high unemployment rate, to curb outsourcing and employment of non-nationals, will we be affected despite being educationally qualified with a 12-year education?

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Last April 17, 2012 The Department of Education (DepEd) released DepEd Order (DO) No. 31, s. 2012, entitled "Policy Guidelines on the Implementation of Grades 1 to 10 of the K to 12 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) Effective School Year 2012-2013."

Last April 24, President Noynoy Aquino formally launched the new BEC in Malacañang. That was the second formal launch in Malacañang related to the K to 12 reform program. The first one was held last Feb. 27 to celebrate the signing into law of RA 10157, known as the Kindergarten Education Act. That law provides, among other things, that Kindergarten "shall be made mandatory and compulsory for entrance to Grade 1."

DO 31 institutionalizes what the government has been talking about since Noynoy Aquino assumed the presidency in June 2010, namely, the change in the curriculum of all public and private elementary and high schools in the country.

DO 31 mandates that all public elementary and secondary schools are obliged to implement the new BEC. Note the word "public." What about private schools? Do they have to change their curriculum for Grades 1 and 7 this June?

The first provision of DO 31 reads this way: "Effective School Year (SY) 2012-2013, the K to 12 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) shall be implemented starting with the roll-out of Grades 1 and 7 in all public elementary and secondary schools. Private schools are enjoined to do the same. They may further enhance the curriculum to suit their school vision/mission."

The verb "enjoined" may be interpreted in various ways, including "not compulsory." The second sentence, however, has to be read in the context of the third sentence. By acknowledging that students in private schools want to have more than the minimum learning competencies required of students in public schools, DO 31 actually commands private schools to follow the new curriculum, but to "enhance" it in ways suited to their own visions and missions. (My point is this: If the curriculum were not being followed, there would be nothing to enhance.)

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In addition to being research-based, the new curriculum is decongested. One of the original reasons of the government for adding two years to our basic education is that Filipino students are forced to study in 10 years what students in other countries study in 12. While it is true that there are extraordinary Filipinos that do not need 12 years, as proven by their excelling in universities both here and abroad, most of our students are like students in other countries who need more time to prepare for productive adult life.

Students will no longer need to cram everything into ten years. In technical terms, this means that the minimum learning competencies or standards (what students know and what they are able to do with what they know) will be fewer per year in the K to 12 curriculum than in the current 10-year curriculum.

Last week, I mentioned two effects of this decongesting. First, Grade 1 classes will last much shorter next year than they do this year. Second, instead of having MAPEH for only three years in elementary school (starting only in Grade 4), students will now have MAPEH for the whole six years, thus spreading three years’ worth of study into six or halving what needs to be learned each year.

At the same time, the K to 12 curriculum is enhanced. That does not refer to the addition of new subjects directly related to employment. What it refers to is the way the existing subjects will be taught. Modern theories and techniques, more attuned to what has been called the new generation of "digital natives," will be used in the new curriculum.

Actually, earlier than the K to 12 program, DepEd started updating the way students are taught, by introducing Understanding by Design (UBD), an unfortunately much-misunderstood curriculum planning tool. (In the Philippines, UBD is used to prepare lesson plans, which is not what it is good for, according to its original American designers, Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. See ubdexchange.org.)

Another feature of the new curriculum concerns English, Filipino, and our various mother tongues. In earlier centuries, language training involved only four skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing), but in the late 20th century, a modern one (viewing) was added. DepEd already included viewing in the curriculum some time ago, but in the K to 12 curriculum, viewing takes a much larger role. The reason should be obvious: today's youth spend quite a bit of time viewing images on television and pages on the Web.

One of the features of the new curriculum that I personally disapprove of is the downgrading of literature as a language learning resource. According to DepEd, the new curriculum features a "more proportionate distribution of informational and literary texts in Languages." This means, in practice, that there will be fewer literary texts read by Filipino students from Kindergarten to Grade 10. (Do not worry, my dear literature teachers, literature is a major subject in the proposed curriculum for Senior High School.)

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Ngayon, ang tanong na nananatiling dapat masagot ay ito: Isang 12 K(alokohan) nga lang ba ang K-12 ng DepEd?

Bilang tugon sa tanong na 'yan at sa kadahilanan na rin na ayaw ko namang mabansagan ng "purist" at de-kahong manunulat, hayaan ninyong sagutin ko ang tanong na ito sa paraang makaiiwas ako sa mga nabanggit kong iniiwasan.

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Sa mas malawak na pagtingin, ang oras na kailangan upang matuto ang isang mag-aaral ay naiimpluwensiyahan ng abilidad o kakayahan ng isang mag-aaral para matuto, ang abilidad o kakayahan na makaunawa ng mga itinuturo, at ang kalidad ng pagtuturong kaniyang natatanggap. Salungat dito, ang oras na aktuwal na inilaan o ginamit sa pagkatuto ay naiimpluwensiyahan ng pagpupunyagi ng isang mag-aaral at ang oportunidad na siya ay matuto (ito ang haba ng panahon na ibinibigay sa mag-aaral upang matuto). (Patay ang argument ng DepEd sa katotohanang ito na mismong sinuportahan ng mga "seasoned Western academicians.")

Ang mababang kalidad ng pagtuturo at ang kahirapan sa pag-unawa ng mga itinuturo ng guro ay kapwa nagbibigay karagdagan sa haba o dami ng oras/panahon na kakailanganing ilaan ng isang mag-aaral upang matutunan ng mas higit pa sa hinihingi ng kakayahan ng mag-aaral na ito. Ngunit may pasubali rin dito si Caroll, isang eksperto sa larangan ng Educational Reform and Academic Development sa Estados Unidos, nang kanyang isulat ito:

"There is, however, an inverse, relationship between quality of instruction and ability to understand instruction."

Ayon kay Caroll, ang mga mag-aaral na may mas mabababang kakayahan sa pag-unawa ng mga itinuturo ng mga guro ay mangangailangan ng mas mataas na kalidad ng pagbibigay ng mga alintuntunin o ng mga itinuturo ng mga guro sa kanilang mga mag-aaral. At idinagdad pa ni Caroll:

"Conversely, if instruction is of extremely low quality, students will need a great deal of ability to understand it" (Caroll, 1963).

Sa pampanitikang ng pagbabago, ang talino ay maaaring maihalintulad sa kahandaan. Kagaya ng talino, ang kahandaan ay isang maramihang paggawa---isang kombinasyon ng kaalaman, kasanayan, at paniniwala. Ito ang nasabi ni Thomas (1994) sa usaping ito:

"Readiness requires that expertise is or will be made available; that is, teachers and administrators either must possess or have access to the knowledge and skills they need to make and sustain the change."

Sa konsiderasyong ito, nasabi rin ni Levin (1995) ang sumusunod tungkol sa usaping ito:

"Capacity building is frequently cited as a key component of successful reform."

Ganon pa man, ang kahandaan para sa pagbabago ay nangangailangan rin ng pormal na pagkilala na ang pagbabago ay tunay na kailangan at na ito ay talagang inaasam. Nangangailangan din ng paniniwala na ang pagkilos para sa pagbabago, kung ito ay matagumpay, ay magbubunga ng isang makabuluhang pag-unlad. Ito ang naisulat nina Nobel at Smith (2000) sa paksang ito:

"To make change is not a matter of simply acquiring new skills, but of requiring a change in ideological orientation."

Dapat ring sabihin na may mga negatibong palatandaan din ang kahandaan. Isa sa mga malawakang kinikilala sa mga palatandaang ito ay ang mga naunang karanasan ng mga guro at mga administrador sa mga repormang pampaaralan na hindi nagtagumpay o di kaya'y naitapon na muna ang mga repormang ito bago pa man naging matagumpay ang mga ito. Nilagom ni Fullan (1994) ang naging impluwensiya ng karanasang ito sa mga sumusunod na pagwiwika:

"The more teachers or others have had negative experiences with previous innovation in the district or elsewhere, the more cynical or apathetic they will be about the new change presented regardless to them of the merit of the new idea or program."

Sa loob ng Caroll Model, una nang nakikita ng kahandaan ang lawig o haba ng oras/panahon na kailangan upang matagumpay na maisakatuparan ang mga repormang pampaaralan. Ang mga paaralan kung saan maraming bilang sa mga guro ng mga paaralang ito ay hindi nauunawaan ang pangangailangan sa pagbabago o sa kasalungatang pagtingin ay tinitignan ang pagbabago bilang kaasam-asam naman, ay nakakakita lamang ng maliit na posibilidad na ang isang programang isinasakatuparan ay magububunga ng isang makabuluhang pagbabago. At sa kaliwanagan pa ring ito, ang mga gurong ito sa mga uri ng paaralang nabanggit ay hindi rin nagtataglay ng uri o bahagdan ng kasanayang kinakailangan upang maisakatuparan ang may mangangailangan ng mas mahabang paggugol ng panahon upang gawing realidad ang isang repormang pampaaralan. At sa kasalungatan naman ng katotohanang ito, kapag nakikita lahat ng mga elementong ito ng kahandaan, ang mas maikling paggugol ng panahon para sa pagsasaktuparan ng makabuluhang repormang pampaaralan ang kakailanganin.

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Sa mga mahahalagang aspetong nabanggit ko sa itaas pumalpak ng sobra ang DepEd sa pagmamadali nitong maipatupad ang K-12 program sa ating bansa. At dahil dito maraming nagsasabi na ang tingin pa rin ng ating kasalukuyang kalihim ng DepEd sa Pilipinas ay isang malaking De La Salle school.

Pagkatapos kaya ng termino nina PNoy at ni Kalihim Luistro (kung sino man maunang matapos sa termino ng dalawa), hindi rin kaya matapos ang pagsasakatuparan ng K-12 program na ito?

Tanging ang kasaysayan na lamang muna ang makasasagot sa atin sa tanong na ito... at sana, hindi kagaya nina PNoy at Luistro, tama ang maging sagot ng kasaysayan sa ating mamamayang Pilipino, dahil kung hindi, ang K-12 ay magiging isa na namang "12 K" na mabubulok sa basurahan ng kasaysayan.


[About the author. Abel D. Soto took up his certificatory double major course in Creative Writing and Performing Arts at Centre for Arts Foundation, Inc. in Quezon City. He also finished the Managing the Arts Program at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati City. He is a resident of Bacolor, Pampanga.]

-Posted: 10:49 PM 6/11/12 | More of this author on eK!
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