Recently, the Department of Education proposed a program that improves the quality of our educational system. It is called the K+12 Basic Education Program. It comprises of kindergarten, six years of elementary education, four years in junior high school and two years of senior high school. This program will implement starting the school year 2012 – 2013.
In connection with this program, one of the plans of President Noynoy Aquino in his administration is to move our basic education system from the current ten years system to twelve years. This agenda will be a major change to our educational system, but there are many people reacted to this issue, some were agreed while others disagree. In addition, there are pros and cons to be considered in implementing the said program.
There is an advantage of this program for those students who are going to work after pursuing their secondary education. According to Education Secretary Armin Luistro, high school graduates can be productively employed even without a college degree. If the student is a graduate of senior high school and at the legal age to work, it means that he or she can land a job. If the student is not able to take this degree, technical vocational education is the alternative. This senior high school is an addition to the basic education system which is fundamental and essential for learners in order to have an opportunity towards a better life.
The curriculum of this K+12 basic education program will also allow specialization in science and technology, music and arts, agriculture and fisheries, sports, business and entrepreneurship. These fields are relevant for the learners in order to prepare for their desired careers in the future. Hopefully, the curriculum will also focus on subjects that enhance their academic competency, develop their skills and values, and recognize multiple intelligences.
Regarding with the curriculum of the twelve-year basic education system, it should be expanded through adding new subjects and dividing fields of interest which is integrated in major subjects. Based on the experiences of other students, there are topics in the textbooks that are not tackled due to lack of time (one year is not enough to finish the lessons for other subjects – sometimes those lessons are appearing in diagnostic examinations and achievement tests). That is why we need to add subjects which can consume for the twelve years basic education. It would be possible that if the program will implement and establish in the coming years, there will be additional subjects that are advanced and relevant to the learners’ competencies in order to become globally competitive.
Lastly, this twelve-year system will also address the problem in the earlier years in schooling. In United States, there is a law called No Child Left Behind which sets the high standards and establishing measurable goals that can improve individual outcomes in education through assessment in the basic skills which suit to their age. The result of this program was successful where some of the learners made progress in Reading, Writing, Science and Math at their very young age. In the Philippines, educational programs like English Proficiency program, Science and Math proficiency and “Every Child a Reader” by Grade 1 are already planning to implement in order to improve the problems in the earlier years of schooling such as poor reading and writing skills. Hopefully, the outcomes of this program in our country will also the same in the United States and other countries with high literacy rate.
But there are problems to be encountered why there are number of Filipinos are not favor with this twelve years system. There is a comment from a news website said that parents can hardly afford to pay for four years of high school, they are going to add another two years which is true among the students who came from the masses. It is not the number of years or the financial status that matters in this program. The disadvantages to be considered are the lack of textbooks and educational materials for the students, lack of teachers, lack of classrooms and facilities, large number of students in a crowded classroom, incentives and performance measures and teaching quality. In relation with the short basic education cycle, the low quality of education is also transparent by high dropping out rates of students and failing in national achievement tests and diagnostic examinations. These problems are interconnected with each other which results into low quality of education in our country.
In order to comply with these problems, currently the government has a budget for education in order to create additional classrooms and schools, facilities, and textbooks. In addition, the teachers should strengthen their knowledge and skills in order to bring better instruction to the students. Perhaps, the teachers should be given proper motivation to work responsibly through proper salary, incentives and performance measures. In terms of educational materials, the textbooks and pamphlets should be less errors and accurate in terms of content and grammatical context and there will be better instructional materials to be used in the class. This system will help the teachers to teach better.
Therefore, the 12-year basic education program is one of the solutions in improving the low quality of our education system. There are cases that ten years of basic education did not recognize in foreign universities and colleges, where they have the twelve years system. That is why; we need to establish the twelve years of basic education system in order to make our educational quality to go with the global standards and it is a major breakthrough in our educational system which leads to change towards progress of our citizens in terms of their academic competency.
In the end of this note, the 12-year basic education program is not all about quantity versus quality. It is not all about adding of classrooms, expenses and number of years. It is all about the quality of education that is needed to improve and enhance because it is the one that helps us to become globally competitive and responsible citizens of our country.