Before we get ahead of ourselves and swallow the proposed “Enhanced K+12 Basic Education Program” hook-line-and-sinker, let’s take a closer look at our neighbor’s successful educational system and see if there’s something we can learn from it: The Singapore Education Journey. A lot of information about Singapore’s educational system may be found in the following websites:
For your convenience, click Education in Singapore for a comprehensive Corporate Brochure from Singapore’s Ministry of Education.
As the saying “the proof is in the pudding” goes, it sure helps to check Singapore’s Education Statistics Digest 2010.
Compared to the additional 2 years tacked in as junior high and senior high under the proposed enhanced K+12 basic education program as contemplated by the Aquino Administration, Singapore sticks with its 4-year high school or 5-year high school and instead gives students three pre-university options: 2-3 years of Junior College, or 3 years of Polytechnic School, or 1-2 years of Institute of Technical Education (ITE) where the student picks up some life survival skills. Depending on his academic performance up to that point, the student who graduates from any of the pre-university level options may elect to continue to the university level or he may decide to go out–NOT as a high school graduate but as a Junior College graduate or as a Polytechnic School graduate or as an Institute of Technical Education graduate–and compete for a job.
It should be noted that in addition to these, the Primary School Grade 6 graduate has other non-traditional routes to the university or the workplace. Depending on the student’s performance in the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), he has these other options: (a) Integrated Program that combines Secondary and JC education [4 to 6 years], (b) Specialized Program to develop the student’s talents in specific areas [4 to 6 years], (c) Privately-funded School programs that determine their own curriculum and provide more options for Singapore students [4 to 6 years], or the (d) Special Education School programs that provide EITHER mainstream curriculum with programs catering to the student’s special needs OR customized special education curriculum [4 to 6 years].
The emphasis on vocational/technical life survival skills in the post-secondary traditional programs (or the 4-6 year post-primary school non-traditional or special programs) is the common thread. In the case of the Philippines, a similar emphasis is planned for the additional last 2 years (junior high and senior high) under the proposed K+12 program whose graduate would still be a “high school graduate” who, should he decide to look for a job instead of going to college, would be competing with the legions of college graduates many of whom are unemployed or underemployed. Unless the potential employer is trying to find a cheaper hire, his perception of which graduate — the high school graduate or the college graduate — is better qualified for a given job is bound to adversely impact the employment opportunities of the high school graduate.