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K-12 Basic Education Program: Bane Or Boon For National Development? Essay

I. Introduction

Our Philipppine Constitution strongly mandates the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels. Article XIV, Section 1, explicitly provides: “The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels.” Due to this the biggest budget is given to the Department of Education. Despite these constitutional guarantees, current performance indicators showed a dismal picture of the quality of education in the country. Participation rates have worsened, dropout rates remain high and the Philippines continues to perform poorly in both national and international assessment tests. As stated by the Senate Education Planning Office (SEPO) published June 11, 2012, it says that, despite efforts by the government to make basic education accessible to all, lack of access to quality education remains a major policy concern. The Philippines, a signatory to the Millennium Declaration, has committed to achieve the goal of 100 percent net enrollment rate by 2015. However, there is a low probability that this target will be met given the current trend.

According to the Department of Education (DepEd), the congested curriculum is partly to blame for this bleak situation. The DepEd claimed that forcing in 10 years a curriculum that is learned by the rest of the world in 12 years has been quite a challenge for both Filipino teachers and students. This simply means that the Philippines is apprehensive that objectives of the Philipppine Education in terms of accessibility to quality education in order to compete with worldwide demand wouldn’t be achieved. This therefore is the reason why it has to look for measures of meeting expectations. Based from the SEPO report, access to education is also unequal, with the poor having significantly lower participation rates than the non-poor. In 2007, the non-poor had an elementary participation rate of 91.8 percent, while for the poor, it was only 85.9 percent. The disparity worsened in the secondary level when the participation rate of the poor dived to 51.4 percent as against the non-poor’s 76.5 percent.

Looking at the gender dimension, boys have lower participation rates than girls in all year level. Net elementary participation rates have even declined from 90.1 percent in 2002 to 88.1 percent in 2010. Fewer children of school age proceed to high school and an even smaller number pursue college education. Results of the 2008 Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS) showed that out-ofschool youth with ages 6 to 15 years old do not attend school mainly because: (1) they lack personal interest (35.0%), (2) they find the cost of education high (18.7%), and (3) they consider themselves too young to go to school (16.2%). It should be noted that as the age cohort gets older (16 to 24 years old), the need to look for work and the high cost of education become the major factors for not going to school.

The poor quality of education is also reflected in the country’s low scores in national assessment tests. Although mean percentage scores (MPS) in the National Achievement Test (NAT) have generally improved in Net elementary participation rate is defined as the portion of the number correctly answered items and the total number of test questions. The NAT is an annual examination administered to public and private school students throughout the country to determine their achievement level, strengths and weaknesses in key subject areas.

As a response to this issue, the DepEd was pushing for the passage of a law, Republic Act No. 10533, formally signed by President Benigno Aquino last May 15,2013 otherwise known as Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 or the K to 12 Basic Education Programme, a scheme that took at least five years to finally implement.In other words the continuous deterioration of the quality of education in the Philippines has prompted the DepEd to push for such implementation of the K to 12 program.

The question of whether it be a bane or a boon?

In the recent times even at this point in time that the implementation of K-12 has commenced a heated debate and argumentation especially among those affected groups on whether the K-12 implementation as a major educational reform could lead to improvements ( a boon) or just to exacerbate the present state of education in the country ( a bane).


Looking at the situation of our educational system, there is really a need for a drastic reform in order to have it really transformed into one which would really be responsive to the objective of producing globally competent graduates and solve the perrenial problems of the Philippine Educational System. “[Sa K-12] tinitiyak nating sapat at kapaki-pakinabang ang kasanayang naibabahagi sa ating mga mag-aaral (With K-12 we are making sure that adequate and useful skills are being imparted to our students),” the President says. The additional two years after fourth year high school are intended to further hone the skills and talents of students for their chosen career path in arts and sports, technical vocational, entrepreneurship or tertiary education Many schools in the country have to buckle up to cope with the demands as they have already been competing globally even before the passage of the law.

And in order to meet the global demands, the schools have to face the challenges that come with the K to 12 program implementation. Now that it has become a law, schools all over the country have to brace for the implementation and the effects of the K to 12 program. However, there are too many controversies and praises that hound this new law. Why is K to 12 needed? ( Adapted from DepEd Policy Briefs, SEPO) 1. To decongest the curriculum. According to the DepEd, while the K to 12is not the solution to all the ills of the Philippine educational system, it will address one of its main weaknesses—the congested curriculum. The DepEd explained that the students are hardpressed to learn in 10 years a curriculum that is actually designed for 12 years in other countries. Hence, Filipino students are not able to achieve comprehension and mastery, particularly of core .

Perhaps the most damning proof of this is the result of the 2008 FLEMMS, which revealed that 19 percent of elementary graduates are not functionally literate (Action for Economic Reforms and E-NET, 2008). Functional literacy means a person can read, write, compute and comprehend. 2. To prepare the students for higher education. From the DepEd’s assessment, secondary graduates of the current system are not adequately prepared for college. They pointed out that this is why most of the courses,the so-called General Education subjects, taken by first year college students are actually remedial as they should have already been mastered in high school. With K to 12, students will be better prepared as introductory courses that are currently taught at the tertiary level will be included in the high school curriculum. 3. To prepare the students for the labor market.

According to the DepEd, with the 10-year basic education cycle, students usually graduate from high school below 18 years old, too young to legally join the labor force or putup a business that will entail them to enter into contracts. The DepEd claimed that K to 12 will empower them to confidently join the labor market as by the time they graduate they are already of legal age and equipped with sufficient skills. 4. To comply with the global standards. At present, graduates who wish to work abroad are at a disadvantage because they are not automatically recognized as professionals while students who apply for postgraduate studies often have to enrol in or take remedial courses to meet the entrance requirements of the foreign country. For instance, the Washington Accord signed in 1989 prescribes 12 years of basic education as a requirement for the recognition of engineering professionals. Likewise, the Bologna Accord of 1999 requires 12 years of education for university admission and practice of profession in European countries. How will K to 12 be implemented?

The K to 12 model proposed by the DepEd is the K-6-4-2 model. This includes one year of kindergarten, six years of elementary education (Grades 1 to 6), four years of junior high (Grades 7 to 10) and two years of senior high (Grades 11 to 12). Under K to 12, the official school age for kindergarten is five years old, 6 to 11 years old for elementary (Grades 1 to 6), 12 to 15 years old for junior high (Grades 7 to 10), and 16 to 17 years old for senior high (Grades 11 to 12). kindergarten will be made mandatory starting this SY 2011-2012. A new curriculum for Grade 1 and first-year students beginning SY 2012-2013 will be devised. Senior high, on the other hand, will be offered starting SY 2016-2017. By SY 2018- 2019, all students would have already finished 12 years of basic education before they enter college. Specialization tracks

The DepEd explained that those who are not inclined to go to college and want to pursue technical-vocational courses or entrepreneurial fields stand to benefit from K to 12 as well. The High School Bridge Program is still open for schools who think that it is still necessary but at present no school implements the said program. Surveys of positivists opinions are widely circulated in the internet, televisions and in various print media / papers nowadays especially prior to implementation of the K TO 12 . To cite some:

– Van Carlo Yacob, student from Fort Bonifacio National High School Initially, I have doubts about this. I thought this would be an added expense. But now I, the Mayor and Vice Mayor are convinced. In our own little way, we’re going to help. We would like to pledge all out support. I would be one of the advocates. – Councilor Jennilyn Sison, Urdaneta city

The more the stakeholders know about the K to 12 program, the more they believe in the program. –SWS, June 2011
With K+12, the students are employable after graduation. This createsjob opportunities graduates. This is the advantage on the part of parents because it is free. – Dr. Rodolfo, PTA representative of Misamis Occidental

Separate K to 12 consultations yielded favorable results
• Generally receptive public and few negative comments in the seven regional public consultations conducted by the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture
• Private business and employment groups expressed support through a MOA to hire K to 12 graduates
• Private school organizations like COCOPEA, CEAP have held consultations on the K to 12 program
Even the president of the Philippines himself is so optimistic about it when he says, “Education is the key to the long-term problems of the country. If we fix basic education, we fix the long-term problems of the country. And if we fix the country’s problems, we will build a truly strong society we can proudly call the Philippines.” “We need to add two years to our basic education.. I want at least 12 years for our public school children to give them an even chance at succeeding. President Benigno S. Aquino III.

It is not surprising for the above cited comments by some people after have been given positive explanation about K-12. It is but natural that when we want to sell something we will always publicize the positive of it. Looking at its purpose as a reform is really a good idea. It could really give masses the chance to avail of opportunities for employability.As to its content and purpose it is always leading forward to a much improved life of the greatest majority of Filipino youths for employament and exploration of their own talents and capabilities in the field of work.Visioning it ahead would pose a good promise for the better. But on the other hand, during the course of implementation, I think it is where the problem now is felt. Some are sample citations of problems that came along at the start and would probably come along as program implementation progresses: A waste of money for the series of trainings that were undergone by teachers.

As observed in the latest trainings of Grade I and Grade 7 teachers they experienced inconveniences in the venues and in the accommodation.The budget for the trainings were compressed such that teachers suffer inconvenience to the point that they did get less out of what were supposed to be grabbed from the training. The big question…Was the budget properly managed? The teachers went home with less ideas on where to get the needed materials. School heads were also of less assistance to the teachers because they were oriented later than the teachers. Although advocates explained how the budget for going to college would be minimized with the K-12 Program but on the part of the students and parents they will experience also the consequences due to the distance of the school where they are to spend for their senior high school because not all high schools or colleges near them offer the vocational-technical course they opt to enroll in.

They have to look for such in a farther away school/college. Another big problem that will be encountered is on the number of schools to accommodate the voc-tech student enrollees. Can the selected school/s be ready to accommodate the many enrollees especially that it is proposed that for every province one or two be made to offer for a particular voc-tech course. How ready? If they say they are? Again, granting that it would be properly planned and estimated, how ready are the schools for the facilities they are to use in order that such instructional facilities could match or compete with the actual ones used in the global industrial market? Would there be more chances for the corrupt people in large scale procurements related to this K to 12 implementation? Another problem that would be inevitable is the question on whether the instructors for the vocational and technical field has the competence and expertise that would truly be able to impart the quality instruction to our students to compete with the global demand?

The next thing that comes to our mind with this K-12 implementation is the gap of two years when our HEI’s don’t have enrollees. Will this not affect many of the private and public institutions? How far can our government redress this problem so as to effect minimal setbacks on them? . headed by leaders who will not be so sold with the program?. Many of our lawmakers are owners, if not corporators of big private schools. This will surely affect their business programming especially on the merging of schools or the amalgamation of schools within areas to offer particular courses. This really would largely affect CHED to where private schools belong. Would they opt for general welfare over their own interest?

Flawed Framework
In a statement posted on its website, Anakbayan, a youth group, assails that the K to 12 program is “flawed, problematic framework” which will only worsen the education crisis and “will further subject the nation’s workers to exploitation “The K-12, unlike what Aquino is promising, is not a solution to education and employment woes. Instead, it will further worsen and deepen the problems. ( Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan) The additional years in the K to 12 program will mean additional burden to parents and students who at present are already struggling to finish the current cycle. At present, only 14 out of 100 finish the education cycle up to college. Additional years will mean additional drop-outs. Aside from that, there is a lack of budget for education currently. Gov’t spending for education, as it is, is not enough to meet the shortages at present. The shortages will worsen and we will be faced with greater problems.

Tuition rates for tertiary education will further hike as the government’s K to 12 will also mean abandonment for tertiary education. The K to 12 also aims to create cheaper, more ‘exploitable’ labor. The program ensures to make more ‘semi-skilled’ youths enter the labor force as early as 18 years old, which will make the unemployment problem worse. The net effect will be lower wages for workers and ultimately, an attack on labor and wages. This program will further subject our youths to exploitation by foreign monopolies as cheap, slave labor. “There is wide opposition against K-12, especially as it obviously failed during its first and second year implementation. Students, teachers, parents and administrators are against the program.” (Crisostomo, Anakbayan Chairperson)

III. Conclusion

The K-12 Program as framed is a really a boon, that is if one would be very optimistic about it. The program would be giving them opportunities to gain technical and vocational skills that the world highly needs today. There would be more benefits to gain than not for our students. This would be attained of course if the government through its leaders would be serious to have it implemented according to its features as planned and equipped with enough battle gear for the success of its implementation. However, this would be a bane if they will be weak to anticipate and provide measures in order to be able to redress whatever possible problems that will come along especially that this K-12 Program is affecting not only a few and a handful of people but the greatest majority especially the country’s pillars who are the young ones. Whether this program would be a bane or boon it depends on the leading characters who will make its machineries work .


1 .Mariano, Carmen S. Educational Reforms for Global Demands Quezon City: Katha Publishing Company Incorporated Websites
1.http://www.depedregion6.ph/pdf/The_Enhanced_%20Kto12_Basic_Education_Program.pdf 2.http://www.deped.gov.ph/cpanel/uploads/issuanceImg/Kto12%20FAQs%20as%20of%20December%202011.pdf 3.http://www.vibalpublishing.com/esp/k-12-program.html

4. http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cagayan-de-oro/local-news/2013/05/26/k-12-beneficial-or-scourge-284209

DepEd Orders
1.Dep Ed Order No. 31, s. 2012

1.Arellano, Marlyn A. (2011). “Curriculum for a Change”, The Modern Teacher, Vol. LVIII No. 6 (Nov. 2008)

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