Philippine Secondary Education Curriculum

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Massive societal changes over the past twenty years (Drucker,1994; Reigeluth,1994) have altered society’s educational needs and in turn are driving schools to redesign their curricula. Within the educational field, schools have been challenged to shift from the traditional paradigm of teacher-directed learning and dissemination of knowledge to learner-centered curricula that can promote the development of life-long learners who can think critically, solve problems and work collaboratively. These are the skills youths need to survive in the future (Drucker,1994; Reigeluth,1994; Banathy,1992). In order to realize these goals, secondary education schools need to adopt a new paradigm that embeds learning within real world contexts and that involves students in hands-on activities that promote meaningful problem solving and cognitive apprenticeship (Jonassen,1991). The Philippines, classified as a developing country and grouped in the East Asian region, needs to establish a system of mass secondary education: (a) that responsive to the country’s socio economic needs and capabilities; ( b) that can respond effectively to increased and diversified demand by expanding access to secondary education; and (c) that can help students to graduate with knowledge, skills, attitudes and experience needed to exercise their choices beyond secondary education. Hence, secondary education is considered the bridge between primary or basic education, the labor market and tertiary education.

Patterns of Secondary Education in the East Asian Region
From year 1945 onwards, primary and secondary education were given significant investments that advanced economies of Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan adopted to increase the length , access and improve the quality of basic education that included lower secondary schooling or junior secondary school (Mundle,1998). From Table 1 (p.21), the duration and age of entry as per data from the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) show that the Philippines has the shortest span of basic education compared to its East Asian regional neighbors. The country has the shortest basic education ladder of six plus four, (six years of primary education and four years of secondary education) typified by eight subjects on the average per year level either primary or secondary prior to the 2002 restructured curriculum. But the long term deterioration in quality showed that Filipino children between nine and fourteen in mathematics, science and reading were two standard deviations below the international Mean (World Bank,1999). In order to arrest this downslide in learning, the Department of Education implemented the new revised basic education curriculum known as the 2002 Basic Education Curriculum with five learning areas namely: Mathematics, English, Science, Filipino and the much maligned Makabayan. The 2002 BEC (Basic education Curriculum) is not a sweeping change but a restructuring of the 1983 Elementary Education Curriculum (NESC) and the 1989 New Secondary Education Curriculum (NSEC). It is focused on the basics of improving literacy and numeracy while inculcating values across learning areas to make it dynamic (Batomalaque,2002). Other East Asian countries have a compact curriculum with five learning areas with emphasis to mathematics, science and technology with one to two languages, English one of them and culture (the country’s own history).

The new curriculum is similar in essence to Indonesia’s educational framework wherein the eighty percent (80%) is national and twenty percent (20%) localized. The core subjects are Mathematics, Science and Technology, Indonesian language and Civic education and Geography. Science is integrated to different streams such as Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Technology and the twenty percent localized has subjects in Agriculture, Fisheries, Woodcraft and Entrepreneurship. In the regional context, the education systems in Asia during the last...
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