KURO-KURO: On K+12 Basic Education

By Fernando M. Lopez
Published in “Kuro-Kuro” on Oct. 12, 2010

The Aquino Administration is gaining popularity for implementing drastic changes in the present set up. Such changes are reaping various reactions from observers – both positive and negative ones. For such a brave and bold action, I commend PNoy for having the guts to deviate from what has been established for a certain length of time.

I do however doubt the K+12 formula of the Department of Education and I have so many reasons for such doubts and many apprehensions for its untimely implementation (should it be implemented in the near future).

I am now 44 years old. I can still remember what the generation ahead of me used to tell. Elementary graduates during their times were already well educated and spoke fluent English. High School graduates are more. They even speak fluent Spanish. They spoke of their contemporary high school graduates as comparable to the present-day graduates of undergraduate courses.

When I was in my elementary and high school levels (I, being the product of barrio public schools in both levels from 1972-1983), I saw the kind of dedication on the faces of my mentors, maybe, the same that my uncles and aunts talked about. I felt the enormous drive of the teachers in giving us the basic foundation of knowledge that we needed in our future quests. I am proud that what I learned in high school English, Algebra and Trigonometry were almost the same as what was taught to me four years later in a private university. It proved that my high school mentors really did their jobs.

When I was in college, I remember having heard many students that when asked what course to take, they answered, “Education (BSEE or BEEd) na lang siguro, kasi baka diko makaya ang ibang kurso.”

Recently, the quality of education is seen to be dwindling at a breakneck speed. Many factors are being attributed. From the simple attitude of pupils and students (will to learn) to the more complex problem of poverty, lack of classroom, teachers, school equipment, learning materials, corruption, etc..

I have nothing against the K+12 formula. Of course, by simple logic, it will follow that longer period in school=more learning. But the drastic move to favor it as against giving the right solution to the existing problems is what’s disgusting. Besides, the budget allocation in the DepEd is so small to maintain the present education system. Our government has difficulties solving the problem on lack of classroom, classroom teachers, school equipment and facilities, competent reference/text/workbooks and learning materials, and so on. How come that they are again thinking of extending the stay of every individual student in high school? Would such and extension not only render our classroom shortage and classroom teacher shortage more crowded and with more duties to perform and more students to tend to? How could we give our students quality time if we can only offer them mentoring session of 30 seconds per student per day because of their number? How do we expect them to learn when their environment is never conducive to the learning process as in dilapidated risky classrooms and insufficient chair-student ratio? What could they pick up from books which were procured through a doctored bidding process favoring suppliers even when the contents are defective?

I believe, before the implementation of such formula, all of the above problems be given solution first. The teaching profession should be given higher qualification standards both in academic and attitude tests, since the ability to teach is anchored on the teachers’ intelligence and emotional capabilities. Let us remember that being a teacher is a noble profession; a calling; a vocation. It is not simply a job where anyone can easily gain income.

The shortage of classroom, classroom teachers, equipment, learning materials, etc.. shall also be given preference and due attention in the annual budget of the agency. I strongly believe that decongesting our classrooms, and giving the teacher a lesser number of students to mentor, will surely improve the quality of education in the country. Let us forget the idea of copying what is being done or is being observed in other countries, and do the same in the Philippines. We have our own identities and capabilities. We used to be comparable to other countries in terms of knowledge, abilities and English speaking. All of these having only the 10-year basic education (in spite of the fact that we did never have the junior and senior kinder, pre-school, day care levels at those times).

Should it still won’t work, it is then, and only then, can we think of alternative solutions, such as the K+12 Formula.

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