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What is K-12? Essay

According to the K to 12 Deped Primer (2011), “K-12 means “Kindergarten and the 12 years of elementary and secondary education.” Kindergarten points to the 5-year old child who undertakes the standardized curriculum for preschoolers. Elementary education refers to 6 years of primary school (Grades 1-6) while secondary education means four years of junior high school (Grades 7-10 or HS Year 1-4). In addition to this, two years are now allotted for senior high school (Grades 11-12 or HS Year 5-6).

What is the rationale for this program?
There is an urgent need to enhance the quality of basic education in our country as seen in the education outcomes of Filipino students and the comparative disadvantage of the Philippines with regard to other countries. The following data would support this explanation: At present, the Philippines is the only country in Asia and among the three remaining countries in the world that uses a 10-year basic education cycle. According to a presentation made by the South East Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO-INNOTECH) on Additional Years in Philippine Basic Education (2010), the comparative data on duration of Basic and Pre-University Education in Asia shows that the Philippines allots 10 years not just for the basic education cycle but also for the pre-university education while all the other countries have either 11 or 12 years in their basic education cycle. Achievement scores highlight our students’ poor performance in national examinations.

The National Achievement Test (NAT) results for grade 6 in SY 2009-2010 showed only a 69.21% passing rate while the NAT results for high school is at a low 46.38%. Moreover, international tests results in 2003 Trends in International Mathematics and Science study (TIMSS) show that the Philippines ranked 34th out of 38 countries in HS Math and 43rd out of 46 countries in HS II Science. Moreover, the Philippines ranked the lowest in 2008 even with only the science high schools joining the Advanced Mathematics category. The present curriculum is described as congested. This means that students do not get enough time to perform tasks because the curriculum is designed to be taught in a span of 12 years and not 10 years.

The more obvious result of this is the fact that most high school students graduate without the readiness to take upon higher education or employment. These students are not equipped with the basic skills or competencies needed at work. Furthermore, the short duration of our basic education program puts Filipinos who are interested to either work or study abroad at a disadvantage. This is because other countries see our 10-year program as incomplete, which then, causes Filipino graduates to not be considered as professionals abroad. Given all these supporting facts, there is indeed a need to improve the quality of basic education by enhancing it and by expanding the basic education cycle. What is the vision of this program?

Records will show that as early as 1925, there were already efforts to improve the basic education curriculum and recommendations have been put forward since then. Thus, this idea of adding years to the present curriculum is not new. The K-12 Curriculum envisions “holistically developed learners with 21st century skills” (Deped Primer, 2011). At the core of this basic education program is “the complete human development of every graduate” (DepEd discussion paper, p.6). This further means that every student would have an understanding of the world around him and a passion for life-long learning while addressing every student’s basic learning needs: “learning to learn, the acquisition of numeracy, literacy, and scientific and technological knowledge as applied to daily life” (p.6). In addition to this, every graduate is envisioned to have respect for human rights and would aim to become “Maka-Diyos, Maka-tao, Makabansa, Maka-kalikasan” (p.6) The K-12 vision aims to have relevance in the socio-economic realm, as well. This means that the students would understand their role as productive members of the country. Such vision can only be possible through an enhanced curriculum.

What are the benefits of this program?
Prof. Calingasan explains that “while parents may look at this as extended expense i.e., paying tuition for another 2 years in high school, this would offset itself since the competencies one would learn from the additional years are the same ones which the first two years of general education in college teach.”

The DepEd primer (2011) specifies the benefits to individuals and families:
1. A decongested academic workload, giving students more time to master competencies and for co-curricular activities and community involvement, thus, allowing for a more holistic development;
2. Graduates will possess competencies and skills relevant to the job market and they will be prepared for higher education;
3. K-12 is affordable;
4. The potential annual earnings of a K-12 graduate will be higher compared to the earnings of a 10-year high school graduate;
5. Graduates will be recognized abroad.

The benefits of K-12 curriculum for the society and the economy are:
1. It will contribute to economic growth. Studies show that improvements in the quality of education increases GDP growth. According to the DepEd (2010), studies in the country have reflected that an additional year of school increases the earnings by 7.5% and that improvements in the quality of education will enable the GDP grow by 2-2.2%.
2. It will facilitate the recognition of Filipino graduates and professionals in other countries
3. A better educated society provides a sound foundation for long-term socio-economic development.

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