Gov’t: K to 12 is boldest reform since American period

The government officially launched on Tuesday the K to 12 program, an initiative that top officials said is the “most significant” and “boldest” reform yet in the country’s basic education since the American time.

DepEd secretary Armin Luistro (left) and Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III applaud as student guests receive a copy of the K to 12 basic education program in Malacanang on Tuesday. Sen. Edgardo Angara and Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara also attended the launch. Credit: Palace Photo Bureau

Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III led the launch of the program at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall of Malacanang Palace with top officials, led by DepEd secretary Armin Luistro and Sen. Edgardo Angara, also in attendance.

The K to 12 program covers kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of junior high school, and two years of senior high school).

The adoption of the program is in response to the need to improve the competitiveness of the country’s graduates as the ten-year basic education cycle is seen as inadequate for work and higher education.

The Philippines is the only country in Asia and is one of only three countries in the world with a ten-year basic education cycle, officials said.

Patricia Licuanan, chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education, said in a speech read by Commissioner Nenalyn Defensor that the K to 12 initiative is probably the “boldest innovation embarked on by the education sector that is meant to address several issues in education.”

Licuanan said the program will seek to address the age-old problem of inadequate preparation of college graduates for work and university.

As early as the American period, Licuanan said the need to extend the ten-year basic education schooling was already cited. The decade of the ‘50s called for the restoration of Grade 7 and was mandated in the Education Act of 1953, she said.

“The 2008 Presidential Task Force on Education recommended the benchmarking of years 11 and 12 with programs around the world, and in 2009, a World Bank survey found that employers considered graduates possessing only ten years of basic education lacking in essential work skills such as problem solving and initiative,” Licuanan said.

Luistro, meanwhile, said the purpose of the K to 12 program is curricular reform and innovation. “Any changes in the curriculum should focus on two important parts: the content of the curriculum and the preparation of teachers,” Luistro said.

Angara, on the other hand, said the K to 12 reform “is not only timely, but long overdue.”

Angara said the call for educational reforms was sounded off three decades ago when he chaired the Congressional Commission on Education (Edcom) which recommended the trifocalization of the system into the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).

“But through the resolve of the DepEd, headed by Secretary Armin Luistro, we will finally start delivering world-class education to a larger number of Filipinos at relatively no cost to them,” he said.

“We cannot afford to delay this any further,” he said, as he noted that fewer students are also graduating from courses related to education science, teacher training, engineering and technology — fields critical to growth industries.

“The lack of school buildings and other necessary infrastructure will have to be addressed as quickly and as sustainably as possible. Cutting edge technologies, like high-speed ICTs, will have to be utilized to reach more students,” he said.