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An Analysis of the Policy:

K-12 Education Program

INTRODUCTION

Enhancing the quality of basic education in the Philippines is urgent and critical. Due to that, one of the discussions of DepEd which incurred last October 2010 is to enhance the basic education program of the country in a manner that is least disruptive to the current curriculum, most affordable to government and families, and aligned with international practice through the K-12 policy.

The poor quality of basic education is reflected in the low achievement scores of Filipino students. Many students who finish basic education do not possess sufficient mastery of basic competencies. One reason is that students do not get adequate instructional time or time on task.

This quality of education is reflected in the inadequate preparation of high school graduates for the world of work or entrepreneurship or higher education. High school graduates also do not possess the basic competencies or emotional maturity essential for the world of work. 1

While the availability of economic opportunities contributes to this, it also illustrates the mismatch in the labor and education markets. The World Bank Philippines Skills Report in 2009 reveals, based on a survey of employers, serious gaps in critical skills of graduates such as problem-solving, initiative and creativity, and, to a lesser extent, gaps in job specific technical skills.

The enhanced K-12 program, or the Department of Education’s (DepEd) proposal to overhaul the basic and secondary education curriculum by adding two more years to the system is arguably one of the most drastic and controversial programs of the Aquino administration. The program is proposed to start in school year 2012-2013 for Grade 1 and first year high school students with the target of full implementation by SY 2018-2019.

According to SEAMEO Innotech 2011, which is considered as the preferred education solutions provider in Southeast Asia and also an ISO 9001: 2008 Certified, the Philippine is the last country in Asia and one of only three countries in the world with a 10-year pre-university program.

The K-12 model to be implemented in the country is an educational system for basic and secondary education patterned after the United States, Canada, and some parts of Australia. The current basic education system is also an archetype of American schooling but with a 10-year cycle.

DepEd reasons that it is high time to adopt a K-12 system, attributing the low achievement scores and poor quality of basic education to the present school setup. Following wide protests over the proposal, the department released its official position defending K-12.2

“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.” quoted from the statement of His Excellency President Benigno S. Aquino III.

K-12 has been met with criticism from youth and student groups, teachers, parents and the academic community. The DepEd, for its part, appears determined to enact the program with its proposed budget catering mostly to preparing the grounds for its eventual implementation.

The DepEd argues that the K-12 program will be the solution to yearly basic education woes and the deteriorating quality of education. Critics, however, counteract that the education crisis needs to be addressed more fundamentally and adding more school years would only exacerbate the situation.

With the proposed policy K-12 program, various arguments and criticisms were formulated. Different conditions generate different assumptions, which in turn create different policies. The success of any policy depends on the correctness of its policy assumptions.3

Taking this fact into consideration,...
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