Abellanosa: Removing Senior High

Fringes and frontiers

AMIDST all the crazy remarks and comments passing around social media, Ched clarified that it only wanted a review of the K to 12 transition program.

Some naughty students who are still in denial that they are required to have additional two years in basic education, have once again sang an old refrain: “remove senior high because it is useless.” A student even joked that many buildings will end up used as drugstores should the said program be abolished.

Lost in the process of communication is the basic distinction between “senior high school” per se and its “transition program.” Grades 11 and 12 are technically under the supervision of the Department of Education, and Ched has nothing to do with it. Those who are dreaming therefore of the program’s abolition should wake up to the fact that it is an irreversible movement within our system.

I understand that the dismay, especially of the first two batches of graduates come from their not so good experiences due to adjustments. Apparently, any new program is not perfect and a lot of its elements cannot but be experimental. The question, however, is not as to whether these adjustments should have been experienced. Basically, “inconvenience” is a given within the context of change. The more important question, I believe, is as to whether an additional two years in basic education is a need for Filipino students given that we are living, working and competing in a global market.

Well, there are those who would prefer to rebel against the market. Theoretically, that’s going to be an interesting thing to do.

Realistically, those who are protesting against the market are doing so within the market itself. I am not saying that the market – or capitalism if we may name it – does not create dehumanizing conditions. Dwelling within this question however may not be everyone’s favorite cup of tea. True, some people heed to that philosopher’s challenge to change the world rather than just interpret it. Unfortunately, for the broad masses the world is a place where one should work regardless of any interpretation of it.

How to prepare oneself then in the real world of work cannot but be an indispensable concern. So the additional two years in basic education is a step among others to address that. This will allow students to develop their skills for another four years in college. It also provides additional time for people to decide and thus arrive at a more stable disposition when confronted with life’s choices.

There was this argument that the Philippines produced good workers even without the senior high program. Initially, this sounds convincing. But much has to be reviewed also in terms of the competitive advantage of Filipinos especially in terms of their technological knowledge. True, “labor export” has been our economic bread and butter. A more serious question however is as to what kind of labor have we been producing and sending to foreign countries?

So the Commission on Higher Education may by all means review the transition program. Good that it admitted and clarified that it did not plan for its removal. An important lesson, again, for our government officials, is the importance of planning and sitting down prior to any implementation of a program or project. The problem, undeniably, is that both agencies are like two persons staying in one room but each wishing to breathe different qualities of air.

Two years is too early to say that a program is useless. And just because it has obvious imperfections does not mean that it should be removed more so if scientific evaluations have not been conducted to assess it.


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