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“We need to add two years to our basic education. 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. ” -President Benigno S. Aquino III Pres. Benigno S Aquino III, in his statement, clearly emphasizes on the advantage of our country’s new basic education curriculum – K to 12.

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But, what exactly is the K to 12 curriculum? The K to 12 curriculum is the recently started program of the Department of Education which covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School). The central feature of the K to 12 Program is the upgrading of the basic education curriculum to ensure that learners acquire the relevant knowledge and skills they will need to become productive members of society.

It seeks to introduce relevant skills development courses and special interest subjects that will suit the personality, strengths and career direction of each learner. According to the Department of Education Secretary, Bro. Armin Luistro, this curriculum designed by Filipinos for Filipinos that can stand up to any curriculum existing in the world. By and large, the program is adapted from proven educational systems abroad. This is not unprecedented. In fact, our present public-school system was based on the one put up by the Thomasites. Why implement K to 12?

According to Ericka de los Santos, before the implementation of the K-12 program began, the Philippines is one of the very few countries remaining that provide only ten years of basic education, six years in elementary and four years secondary. This short period makes it difficult for Filipinos to be competitive with countries like Japan or Korea, that have at least 12 years of basic education under their belt. In most cases, the extra years spent in basic education should enable students to tackle subjects like mathematics and science in more details, instead of the rushed manner used in the old education system.

People can also expect that the new K-12 system will produce graduates who are more prepared for college education. The program is expected to provide a clear view of which career they would take. This may lead to less drop-outs, and more chances of success in graduating from whatever course they choose. Elena Ruiz, Education Assistant Secretary for Programs and Projects said in an interview of the Manila Times that for the curriculum to be responsive, it has to be changed, and that is one of the main reasons why we have a new curriculum implementation.

The intention of the implementation, however, importantly enhances the basic education curriculum since it provides sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship. Figue 1: Schematic implementation plan of K to 12. What happens to the curriculum? In the new curriculum, there is a continuum from Kindergarten to Grade 12, and to technical-vocational and higher education.

The Department of Education said an enhanced curriculum would decongest academic workload, giving students more time to master competencies and participate in co-curricular activities and community involvement, thus allowing for a more holistic development. Under the K to 12 curriculum, the elementary grades will focus on the core learning areas—languages, math, science and social studies. Science will be introduced as a subject only starting Grade 3, but will be integrated in other learning areas in the earlier grades.

The subject Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan will be taught starting Grade 4. One of the highlights of the K to 12 curriculum is the use of eight major languages in the country to teach pupils kindergarten to Grade 3 starting this schoolyear. DepEd adopted the “Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education” after pilot tests showed students learn better when the language used at home is also used in the classroom. The new junior high school curriculum, which begins with Grade 7, will give students a chance to hoose from the Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) subjects–Agri-Fishery, Industrial Arts, Home Economics, and Information and Communication Technology–to be offered on top of the required subjects in the core learning areas. By School year 2016-2017, when the current batch of seventh graders reach Grade 11 or the first of the two-year senior high school, they will focus on science, math, English and contemporary issues, plus choose their area of specialization: academics, vocational-technical or sports and arts.

Marilyn Yap, a teacher at the Ernesto Rondon High School in Quezon City agreed that there is much to address under the present curriculum. “Educational facilities like school rooms, laboratory rooms and laboratory equipments and apparatus, computer rooms, voc/tech rooms complete with equipments and many other things are needed for the effective implementation of the new curriculum,” she says. So, how is the curriculum implemented? Are there sufficient materials such as textbooks, classrooms and teachers that can fully address to its implementation? To answer this, Bro.

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