Is K-12 viable?

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By Neil Honeyman

An Independent View

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


WHAT are the challenges faced by our education system?

In 2000, the Philippines signed the United Nations-sponsored Millennium Development Goals (MDG). These goals are targets which are to be met by 2015. For education, the MDG is that every child completes elementary education (Grade 6). The Philippines is not meeting this goal. Sadly, it is not even making any progress at all. For every 100 students enrolled in Grade 1, to meet the MDG, 100 students should graduate from Grade 6. In 2000, only 66 students of the original 100 graduated from Grade 6. In 2013, the graduation rate was the same, only 66 students completed Grade 6.

The situation for secondary education is similar. For every 100 students enrolled in Grade 1, only 33 will obtain a high school diploma.

We believe the dropout rates that we experience in both elementary and secondary education pose the most substantial and serious challenges faced by our education system.

What has been achieved by our education system since 2010?

In January 2012, PNoy signed into law Republic Act 10157 which makes compulsory one year of kindergarten education. This means that there are now pre-requisites to be met before children enter Grade 1.

In May 2013, PNoy signed into law Republic Act 10533 which makes compulsory six years of secondary education.

We now have a compulsory 13 years of basic education comprising one year of kindergarten education, six years of elementary education, and six years of secondary education.

What are the consequences of implementing RA 10157 and RA 10533?

As far as the Kindergarten Act is concerned, we have not seen a widespread fundamental shift as a result of making kindergarten education compulsory. Many teaching staff are underpaid, paid late or are working on a substantially voluntary basis.

RA 10533 specifies that secondary education will consist of six years of compulsory study. The first four years will lead to a Junior High School Diploma. A further two years will result in a Senior High School Diploma being awarded.

So far, we have seen some changes in the curriculum which have been applied to students who are now in second year high school.

Do we anticipate any difficulties?

Yes. We do not see widespread acceptance of a 13-year compulsory education program before the tertiary level is reached. It is not seen to be necessary by many outside the Department of Education (DepEd).

DepEd has made the horrendous error in believing, or pretending to believe, that “K-12” is a worldwide standard. It is not.

Each country has its own education system. For example, in England, students born in 2008 enrolled in first year primary school in September 2013. Most will leave their secondary school in July 2024. The normal school leaving age is 16. Eleven years of schooling is typical.

One the other hand, Philippine students entering Grade 1 at the beginning of Scholastic Year (SY) 2013-2014 were typically born in 2006 [two years older than their English counterpart]. RA 10533 “compels” students to stay in the formal education system for a further 12 years. The Philippine system is becoming unwieldy, unworkable and will be largely ignored by parents and students themselves. RA 10533 will not survive the next presidential term. A more sensible, pragmatic system will be enacted which truly meets the generally accepted criteria of global competitiveness and sustainability.

The Supreme Court

The Judicial Branch has been seen as the weakest branch of the three branches of government [Executive, Legislative, Judiciary].

The worm has turned. Flexing its muscles with its finding that Priority Development Assistance Fund (Pdaf) is unconstitutional, DAP still undergoing evaluation, and the Temporary (already not-so-temporary) Restraining Order (TRO) on Meralco’s desire to make the electricity it sells to its hapless consumer to be the most expensive in Asia, the Supreme Court (SC) has been addressing the controversial Cybercrime Act, RA 10175.

The SC has ordered a number of Sections in the Act to be stricken. Previously, the SC had blocked the Act’s implementation with an indefinite temporary restraining order. Congress has filed bills which address the required amendments but these have not yet been passed.

There are a number of challengeable aspects to the recent Education Act [RA 10157 (Kindergarten) and RA 10533 (K-12)].

One area of potential challenge is the high-handed use of the word “compulsory” in both Acts.

Constitutionally, only Grades 1-6 are compulsory. This indicates that formal education outside Grade 1-6 are not compulsory. But both the Kindergarten Act and the Act dealing with High School Education, when combined, insist on calling the whole 13 years of K-12 “compulsory.” A clear violation of the Constitution.

“It’s only a moral compulsion” cite the apologists for K-12. Yeah. Many parents would consider, and rightly, that they have a moral compulsion NOT to inflict 13 years of DepEd’s pedestrian curricula on their offspring.

More articles on K-12 are in my pipeline. They will appear eventually.

‘Such sweet compulsion doth in music lie' - John Milton 1608-1674 ‘Arcades’ (1645) line 68

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on February 26, 2014.

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