Coping with K to 12

By: Jobers R. Bersales June 15,2016 - 09:37 PM

Years and decades from now, Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III will have been remembered for the illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) that is expected to hound him and his Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, once they step down from office on June 30.

But if there is one positive development under the Aquino presidency that historians will most probably credit him, it will be the passage of the controversial Republic Act 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, which, among others, adds two more years to the 10-year Basic Education Program in the Philippines.

I say controversial because there has been a quite vigorous opposition from some quarters, including one attempt to derail it via the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that the Supreme Court flatly and unanimously denied.

Last Monday, Grade 11 finally debuted in the country, leaving only Angola and Djibouti as the final holdouts all over the world, with only 10 years of basic education.

Education Sec. Armin Luistro is to be congratulated for ensuring the implementation of the program. I do not subscribe to the view that he should be taken to task for the 40 percent of Grade 10 students who refused to enroll in Grade 11.

As with any change, there will always be Filipinos who stand and wait just as there will always be those who do not understand no matter how you explain the need for Grades 11 and 12 or the Senior High School Program.

My own experience as former chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of San Carlos in the 2000s taught me to appreciate these two more years.

I know some parents view this as an added burden to their already-burgeoning expenses. But consider this: when I was still chair, I noticed that we would be full of enrollees in the first two years of Anthropology of Sociology. Then more than half of them would no longer enroll in third year. They only needed the first two years to complete requirements for work, no matter if what they learned never prepared them.

Here at last, students not only get to acquire new knowledge but also the needed skills training that they can choose from without having to burden themselves with a college degree that will land them in the same first job had we had the Senior High program earlier.

At Grade 11, one can now study bookkeeping, for example, rather than get a four-year business degree only to do nothing more than bookkeeping, for example. Those who are interested in drafting and drawing need not go and get a college degree in fine arts, as they have the option to get this at Grades 11 and 12. More than this, many of the tracks offered at the Senior High School program are tailor-made programs that carry national certification (NC).

So why bother with a college degree if you really just want to set up your own restaurant or work at a cruise ship as a cook, for one?

At the other end of this change is of course the tremendous sea change that will sweep higher education. With so many students graduating from Grade 12 two years from now who can immediately find work, how many of them do you think will still opt for a college or professional degree?

Already the prognostications are that many existing college programs will disappear in favor of those that will still have vigorous enrollment like Engineering and other board exam-requiring degree programs.

The shift from K-to-10 to K-to-12 is without doubt not an easy pill to swallow at the start. But as the years will prove, this is one project that the Aquino government will have a high score. It is one legacy that Mr. Aquino can certainly look back to with pride, even if he will be already bound on a wheelchair or inside prison walls or at some hospital bed.

Farewell, Angola and Djibouti. Welcome to the new world, Philippines!

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TAGS: books, classes, education, international standard, K-12, standard, student, students, Teachers

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