Give it a few more years.
Despite the Department of Education’s (DepEd) formal launching of the K+12 program for schools this year, the formal implementation and recognition of K+12 in the educational structure has yet to materialize. Until the legislative signs the K+12 Bill into law, educational institutions around the country still have time to plan exactly how to adjust.
K+12, short for the Kindergarten to 12 Basic Education Program, is the reformed basic education program proposed by the DepEd under Br. Armin Luistro FSC. Students under the K+12 program will undergo six years of primary education starting from kindergarten, followed by four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school.
This reformed basic education program will be in compliance with the international standard, which recognizes only 12 years of basic education. The current system of 10 years of basic education does not qualify Filipino students for studies in higher education, and inhibits the employability of Filipinos in professional careers abroad.
For tertiary level institutions, K+12 raises concerns, with particular regard to the role of faculty, and the possible gap created by an additional year of high school for graduating high school pupils. De La Salle University is not exempt from such concerns, and while it has a special committee managing K+12 adjustments at the University level, under College of Liberal Arts (CLA) Dean Dominador Bombongan Jr., the committee has yet to finalize any general directives or make any official statements on the matter.
Dr. Rochelle Lucas, Vice Dean for the College of Education (CED), shares in Filipino, “K+12 is [still] set for 2016. Until then, we will have to prepare for all the changes that have to be made, so that we are all ready to accommodate the students coming from senior high school.”
She adds that among the Lasallian community, DLSP educators are still in the process of deciding which schools will be able to receive the first batch of senior high school students. “This is in consideration of the schools who already have a K to 11 program, such as La Salle Greenhills and De La Salle Zobel.”
Unofficial sources confirm that there may be plans to open a senior high school academy, which will handle the final senior high school year lacking in the K to 11 programs of LSGH, DLSZ and other schools. The academy will teach a curriculum similar to that being offered for first year students in DLSU. Therefore, students enter the University without needing to take said courses any more, leaving them free to immediately take specialized major subjects.
Dr. Feorillo Demeterio, Vice Dean of CLA, says that if such plans push through, then the faculty will be culled from the University. “Most of the faculty from CLA will be teaching there,” he affirms. “We will also have our senior luminaries and distinguished faculty requested to teach at the academy.”
The first year curriculum of DLSU students mainly complies with CHED standards in the General Education (GE) curriculum: hence, students must take a certain number of history, humanities, English language and literature, Filipino, mathematics, natural and social sciences courses.
Given this, Demeterio adds that besides CLA, the colleges with the most number of faculty affected are CED and the College of Science, since the faculty members who teach these subjects will teach the same in the proposed academy.
The formal qualification of college instructors in teaching basic education remains an issue to be resolved in such a case. Lucas states that for professors teaching English language in CED, the qualification of the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) is a requirement.
“We don’t have a problem with licensure, but what about the teachers in CLA?” she worries.
For professors in CLA and COS, such licensure is not required for teaching at the college level. Licensure is necessary for teachers who teach basic education; however, professors will still have to pass the LET, in addition to taking which 12 to 18 units of education courses.
Demeterio states that teachers are not yet buying the idea. “We’re still negotiating,” he clarifies. “It’s one of the really difficult parts of the bill. For the transition period, we’re trying to make it such that the experience of professors in teaching can be honored as license enough.”
Another “building block” of the K+12 program, as identified by DepEd Secretary Luistro, is the legal framework surrounding the initiative. A technical working group in the House of Representatives has already been formed to consolidate three bills to ensure that the K+12 program will work in a re-amended Basic Education Law.
According to Committee on Higher and Technical Education chairperson Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, the group is looking to pass the measure to the House committee on rules for plenary debate this July. Angara expects that the measure will be passed before the end of the 15th Congress on June 2013.
In the event that the bill does not pass the plenaries, Demeterio says that DLSU will continue to provide opportunities for students to improve their chances of finding work abroad, as well as being recognized as possessing sufficient basic education. “We will, for instance, be offering more ladderized masteral courses, so that students can go straight to masteral level studies abroad,” he assures.
Lucas, however, does not disregard the difficulty of adapting to the new system. “It’s going to be very difficult to manage,” she admits in Filipino. “Given that the University is handling many other concerns, such as the full integration of DLSU-STC, we still do not have anything definite to work on. There’s still a lot of planning to do.”
To follow are DepEd responses to common questions on the K+12 program. They have been compiled to further inform the reader of significant aspects of the shift.
When will the K to 12 program be implemented?
Universal kindergarten started in SY 2011–2012. The new curriculum for grade 1 and grade 7 (high school year 1) will be implemented in SY 2012–2013 and will progress in the succeeding school years. Grade 11 (HS year 5) will be introduced in SY 2016–2017 and grade 12 (HS year 6) in SY 2017–2018. The first batch of students to go through K to 12 will graduate in March 2018.
Why are we implementing 12 years of basic education and not 11 years?
A 12-year program is found to be the adequate period for learning under basic education and is a requirement for recognition of professionals abroad (i.e., the Bologna and Washington Accords). Other countries like Singapore have 11 years of compulsory education, but have 12 to 14 years of pre-university education depending on the track.
Why is the K to 12 program better than the current program?
K to 12 offers a more balanced approach to learning that will enable children to acquire and master lifelong learning skills (as against a congested curriculum) for the 21st century.
The current program crams a 12-year curriculum into ten years, making it difficult for students to master the competencies.
It will help in freeing parents of the burden of having to spend for college just to make their children employable.
A student who completes K to 12 will be equipped with skills, competencies, and recognized certificates equivalent to a two-year college degree.
How will the K to 12 program help students intending to pursue higher education?
The K to 12 basic education curriculum will be in accordance with the College Readiness Standards from CHED, which sets the skills and competencies needed of K to 12 graduates who wish to pursue higher education.
CHED will down-load its general education subjects to K to 12, ensuring mastery of core competencies for K to 12 graduates. This may lead to a reduction in the number of years of college courses, resulting to a decrease in educational expenses of households.
How will K to 12 help in ensuring employment for our graduates?
The K to 12 basic education curriculum will be sufficient to prepare students for work.
The curriculum will enable students to acquire Certificates of Competency (COCs) and National Certifications (NCs). This will be in accordance to TESDA training regulations. This will allow graduates to have middle-level skills and will offer them better opportunities to be gainfully employed or become entrepreneurs.
There will be a school–industry partnership for technical–vocational tracks to allow students to gain work experience while studying and offer the opportunity to be absorbed by the companies.
What would be the assurance that K to 12 graduates will be employed?
DepEd has entered into an agreement with business organizations and local and foreign chambers of commerce and industries that graduates of K to 12 will be considered for employment.