That is why the idea of another two years in basic education is an added burden to some mothers. In a news report, a mother of five said, “It is difficult, giving them snacks every time they go to school plus their transportation.”
Because of poverty, many students are forced to dropout from school. In 2008, for every 100 pupils who enter grade one, only 66 finish grade six; for every 58 students who enroll in first year high school, only 23 enter college and only 14 graduate.
Palatino said, “A quick glance at the outside world is enough to provide us a concrete face for these out-of-school youths – they are the young workers in construction, they are the young involved in drugs and prostitution, they are the sellers who knock at out car windows, they are the passionate dreamers who painfully awaken to the grim reality that they just have to waive their dreams of becoming scientists, doctors, engineers, teachers.”
In haste again
In an interview with Bulatlat.com, Castro said there are still gray areas in the K to12 program.
“A massive retooling and retraining of teachers will be needed in order to teach students in senior high school,” Castro pointed out.
She added that the training of teachers would require a substantial budget. However there is no identified budget for it.
Castro also said that at this stage, the DepEd is still finalizing the curriculum. “After finalizing the curriculum, they (DepEd) will have to come up with the textbooks, then the teacher’s manual. When will these be finalized? We will have our training this summer. What will be the content of our training if the requisites are not even ready?”
There is also a drastic change in the curriculums of Math and Science in the K to12 program, said Castro. A spiral curriculum will be used in implementing the K to12 program. Under the spiral curriculum, according to the Education.com website students repeat the study of a subject at different grade levels, each time at a higher level of difficulty and in greater depth.
However, being a teacher herself, Castro said this approach is not advisable. “This approach is not really helping the students. That is why we would prefer teaching them pure Algebra or Statistics because it sticks to them. In a spiral curriculum, the students tend to forget the lessons previously taken because of its chopsuey design.”
Chopsuey is a Chinese cuisine in which different kinds of vegetables are mixed together. In the implementation of K to12, one subject like Science for example will be divided into four classifications/specializations for the whole school year. In this method, according to Castro, more than one teacher will tackle one subject like Science. DepEd said there would be team teaching.
“For example, in Science, one teacher who specialize in general science will teach it during the first grading period, A teacher who specializes in biology will teach during the second grading period, and a teacher specializing in chemistry will teach during the third grading period,” Castro explained.
Castro pointed out that this approach requires teachers with specializations. The huge number of shortages in teachers will definitely make it difficult to fill in the needed teacher positions. “A chemistry teacher cannot teach biology simply because that is not her undergraduate course ”
She also added that there is still no final curriculum that they will use for the implementation of the K to12 program. Castro said the DepEd and Tesda presented different curriculums during the Dec. 12 summit. The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said they are still not ready.
The DepEd, Tesda and CHED are the lead agencies that will ensure the smooth transition from the existing 10 year education cycle to the K to 12 basic education cycle.
Castro criticized the government’s haste in implementing K+12 program without concrete and careful planning. “What the DepEd is trying to show here is that they are accomplishing something. The implementation is once again in haste, which is why the result would be a disaster. They do not foresee the possibilities.”
Addressing the wrong problem, coming up with a non–solution
In his privilege speech delivered in Congress, Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino said, “I very much understand that added learning and training period in elementary and high school could be beneficial for our youth. The K to 12 proposal, however, is rendered problematic by the context within which it is set to be implemented and the direction it intends to take,” Palatino said.
Palatino pointed out that the length of school-cycle has nothing to do with the quality of education. Citing the study entitled “Length of school cycle and ‘quality’ of education”, Palatino said, educators Abraham Felipe and Carolina Porio found out that “there is no correlation between the length of school cycle and the quality of education.” By using TIMSS as basis of the study, Palatino said the findings underscore that some countries with the same school-cycle as the Philippines have high scores; other countries with longer cycles than the Philippines have lower scores.
Palatino also added that the framework of the K to 12 program is to produce cheap semi-skilled workers for the global market. “In addition to this issue of non-correlation between the length of school-cycle and quality of education, it is important that we also grasp the framework of K to 12. Simply put: the plan wants to rapidly generate employable high school graduates that will fill in the demands of the foreign market.”
Castro stressed, “The major problem here that needs to be addressed is the shortages. But instead of addressing this, the DepEd is implementing programs that are not really the solution to the problem. It’s obvious here that they are not recognizing it (the shortages).”
Even DepEd Sec. Armin Luistro said the K to12 program would not solve the existing problems of the country like unemployment. “He said in the summit that K to12 will not assure the students that they will have jobs after their six years in high school. It came from his mouth that K to12 is just an attempt to help solve the problem of education but it is not the solution,” said Castro.
“Even if the curriculum is changed but the existing problems of shortages are not addressed, quality education will still not be attained. What only awaits the students this coming school year 2012-2013 is chaos.”
Palatino stressed that to genuinely improve the quality of basic education; the government should put a stop to plugging the dreams of the people to the demands of the foreign market. “Instead, our focus should be completely re-oriented to produce a holistically trained workforce that contributes to national industrialization and development.”