K-12: A Much Needed Education Modernization

By Raymond Rodis

Photo by Glen Noble

Photo by Glen Noble

I am for a better education system. I am for K-12.

First off though, what is K-12? K-12 refers to the new educational curriculum that Congress passed into law in 2013 through the passage of the Enhanced Basic Education Act. It introduces the now mandatory one year of Kindergarten, six years of Primary Education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School.

It basically gives us 2 more years of education. I will gladly support more years in school so that our students are even better trained and more educated.

We are the LAST country in Asia to only have 10 years of schooling, and only one of three countries in the world with the old system. (The other two African countries are not exactly countries you want to be lumped up with on the development scale) If we want world class professionals, we better have world class educational standards.

As a high school student did you know what you wanted to do in your real life? Now K-12 offers you FOUR tracks to choose from: Academic; Technical-Vocational-Livelihood; Sports, and Arts and Design, so that we can discover what our aptitudes are instead of spending our college years shifting from one major to another. We will now be exposed to more real skills that we can use in the world.

It's also more Filipino context-centric. Now, initially, courses will be taught in the local vernacular or mother tongue whether that be Cebuano, Kapampangan, or Ilocano.

In fact, the majority of arguments I hear supposedly against K-12 are not actually arguments against K-12. 

They say that the Philippines is not ready for K-12 as we don't have enough classrooms, and teachers as is. In fact, that backlog is true but what they are really saying is NOT "No to K-12" but actually "K-12 Later." 

K-12 as a policy has enough merits.

The truth is we can do both. 

We can invest in more classrooms and teachers, and still push for K-12. The Government has been doing just that. It has invested P436 billion in the education budget for 2016, the largest budget ever allocated. In fact, from 2005 to 2009, DepEd built 40,000 classrooms, but in five years, Aquino built 100,000. From 2005 to 2009, close to 10,000 teachers were hired; under Aquino 170,000 teacher items were created.

Another argument is that K-12 will force senior kids to drop out of school. The answer then is to make sure these kids have access to free senior high school education. That is why DepEd has alloted more than P12 billion to subsidize these kids through vouchers.

The answer is to make sure that every kid's right to education is respected by making sure it is free for them. We have to take it even a step further by giving them free school lunches, and book allowances so there is more reason for their parents to keep them in school.

The Philippines has to modernize. It's derided quite unfairly by others for adding in two years. I even saw a Manila Bulletin writer quite arrogantly stating "But should we not rather hammer on the heads of our foreign counterparts that Filipinos can accomplish in 10 years what they struggle to achieve in 12 years."

Earth to these delusional people. Some Filipinos are excellent in their field but as a whole, Filipinos are not anywhere near the top of any educational ranking whether that be math, science, or reading. Some try to say K-12 just breeds labor for other countries but the truth is the vast majority of Filipino graduates stay here in the Philippines. Even those who go to other countries for work or schooling often come back bringing much needed technical skills and knowledge transfer.

History is on our side. One day, even critics will be sending their kids to K-12 schools. Those kids will be thankful we chose to revolutionize the Philippine educational system.

Filipinos deserve better education, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

Filipinos deserve K-12.

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Raymond is the founder of ASPIRE Ph, a start-up training company which conducts leadership training, speech workshops, and motivational talks with the aim of encouraging more people to take part in nation-building. He is currently on his 2nd year at the U.P. College of Law.