With the launching of the K-12 educational systems in the Philippines many have supported it and many have expressed doubts on this move by the government. K-12 covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six (6) years of primary education, four (4) years of Junior education, and two (2) years of senior high school) to provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship. But still we are faced with this question: Is K-12 really the solution to the few of the many problems of the Philippines? Most of us are firm believers that change is needed and must be constant; however, some remain uncertain of the outcome of this change in our educational system. From the point of view of the skeptics, there is this harsh reality that we lack resources, infrastructure, manpower and funds. A book is shared by 3 students, a teacher shared by thousands. Teachers are even overworked and underpaid. They do not get the respect that they deserve when in fact they are the builders of society. How can we expect good returns if in the first place we lack the capital? We have a good potential pool; however we cannot take advantage of it due to financial constraints.
Moreover, this program will surely create a vacuum in the tertiary level. Obviously, it adds insult to an injury. For the optimists however, what they see are self-directed learners who are able to face the real world after finishing the K-12 program. Surely, there would be problems to be encountered but the government is doing decisive moves in order to address each problem which may hamper the program’s implementation. As a matter of fact, the Department of Education is doing its best to bridge the gap between what is and what should be in terms of resources, infrastructure, man power and funds. Contrary to the misconception that it would be an additional burden on the part of the parents because of the additional two years, it is sensible to think that K-12 program is in fact reducing the two-year burden of parents if they will send their children to college.
President Aquino himself stressed “We need to add two years. Those who can afford pay up to fourteen years of schooling before university. Thus, their children are getting into the best universities and the best jobs after graduation. I want at least 12 years for our public school children to give them an even chance at succeeding,” According to the K-12 DepEd Primer (2011), K-12 Curriculum envisions “holistically developed learners with 21st century skills. It aims to decongest academic workload, giving students more time to master competencies and for co-curricular activities and community involvement, thus, allowing for a more holistic development which will create a positive domino effect to the system and to the nation building as well.
The goal of the enhanced K-12 Education Program is to create a functional basic education system that will produce productive and responsible citizens equipped with the essential competencies and skills for both lifelong learning and employment. Eventually every graduate will be able to think for himself/herself and make sound decisions on the best courses of action to take in the different circumstances of his or her life. Every graduate is inculcated with the respect for human rights and values, notably, Maka-Diyos, Maka-tao, Makabansa, and Maka-Kalikasan. A vision achieved through an enhanced curriculum. Enhanced K-12 Basic Education Program twin-objectives: 1. to give every student an opportunity to receive quality education based on an enhanced and decongested curriculum that is internationally recognized and comparable; 2. To change public perception that high school education is just a preparation for college; rather it should allow one to take advantage of opportunities for gainful career and employment and/or self-employment in a rapidly changing and increasingly globalized environment according to the education experts.
Should there be establishment of legal framework for K-12, how will the government finance this considering the present plight of our budget and what about the vacuum in the Higher Educational Institutions during the first two-year implementation of Senior High School(Gr.11 and 12)? The government should increase allocated budget for education. Rechanneling the budget used on paying foreign debts to education sector may also be considered. Additionally, the role of PPP program is indispensable; thus, it should be strengthened. As regards idle resources in Higher Educational Institutions, some measures may be considered. Colleges/universities may consider offering senior high school and adapt to K-12 curriculum.
It is an inevitable fact that public schools can barely accommodate enrollees due to dearth of facilities despite government effort to fill the gap. Undergraduate programs may also be cut in length: Five- year programs into four years and four-year programs into three years. Vocational courses may also be reinforced as (to some extent) these courses are extension of senior high school. Is K-12 Education the solution? The answer to this question depends on its implementation and the assurance of its sustainability in the later years. As of the moment, one thing is certain—Change is constant so we have to embrace it. We cannot afford to watch things as they happen, we should make things happen and be a part of the solution of the multifaceted problems that beset our country.