ON THE PROPOSED K-12 CURRICULUM (Part1)
By Rex Lor
If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. – Derek Bok
There is a commotion that’s hounding the academe nowadays. There is strong resounding proposal a new re-proposing a 12-year basic education curriculum. It seems that the strength and rationality of the 12-year Basic Education proposal is gaining more voices as educational outcomes of our children are going down compared to our neighbors in the ASEAN region. We are now in danger of losing against Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia as they are stepping up their K-12 English curriculum. There are many criticisms to this urgent proposal. Let me try to enlighten our readers a little bit on an encapsulated point-per-point exposition especially for the benefit of our fellow Rotarians who still have children or grandchildren in school.
K-12 is expensive. Let me start with Harvard’s Derek Bok on educational cost. Education is expensive but the numerous, consistent and expensive failures will far outweigh the cost of educating the young. As employers, why don’t we hire high school graduates?
Precisely because they’re not well-equipped and well skilled. In addition, they are not legally able to sign contracts. Where do they go? They become branded as “OSY” who continually receive a huge budget from the government to support them. Later on, they add up to the millions of unemployed waiting for government dole outs and organizational charity. You see? It is more expensive to maintain the unemployed than adding 2 school years. K-12 will strain the DepEd budget.
Speaking to a retired supervisor who has now become a cynic due to the corruption that comes wi th the
department, she exclaimed that majority of the budget goes to corruption. If the full budget is used properly and rationally, we will actually be able to maximize the budget. It, then, boils down to proper fiscal and budget management, which is doable!
A 10-year Basic Education Curriculum is enough. Years ago while applying for graduate scholarships in a university in the US, I was frustrated to know that one of the strict requirements for international students is to have studied 12 years in basic education. I sent my diploma and supporting documents only to be denied because of the requirement with a letter expressing that I undergo an additional 2 years to complete the cycle. Frankly, we are one of only few countries that still have a 10-year basic education curriculum.
In addition, our curriculum lack other important content like calculus and other higher sciences. We don’t even teach calculus in high school (calculus is already taught in high schools all over the world).
According to Edilberto de Jesus, the President of the Asian Institute of Management, the Philippines actually had 11 years of basic education: 7 years in the elementary and 4 years in the secondary. Some of our top schools in the country actually have 7 years in grade school and is seeing the benefits of adding 1 more in high school. Ironically, those politicians who are adamant against the K-12 see the importance of adding more years in basic education having sent their children to La Salle Green Hills, Ateneo de Manila University – Grade School, Immaculate Conception Academy and other International schools.
Allow me to show the benefits of K-12 education in the 2nd part of this article. At the end of the article, it is hoped that by simple pro-con comparison, we will be enlightened why there is an URGENT need to reform and change our way of thinking. K-12 allows for a rational well-paced curriculum. The problem with our curriculum now is that it has too much of everything spaced in 10 years.
Learning from the effective Understanding-by-Design curriculum (which has catapulted Singapore to a top position in five years), well-spaced, thematic and industry-based curriculum is the answer. Personally, there’s a lot of unwanted elements in the curriculum – it is too content based and skips the part on actually teaching students the how-to’s. Our school supervisor from La Salle Green Hills, Mr. Ramelle Javier, noted in one of his UBD training in school that there is a need to change from our traditional content-based curriculum to that of a rational, well-paced, thematic and student centered one. This will also allow for additional space to input skills based training thereby allowing graduates to look for jobs after they graduate.
A new K-12 curriculum equips the student more for future job opportunities. Majority of the students graduating high school do not go to college. Because they are immature and unskilled, they end up jobless and marked as out-of-school youths (OSY) who are supported financially through various GO and NGO charities. Remember, it is more expensive to support the jobless (lifetime-commitment ‘til they die) than educating the young (12 years). A skills-based high school curriculum(like those of TESDA), will enable our graduates to land jobs. In our school, we are undergoing a study to enrich our curriculum to allow our students to graduate with TESDA certificates having finished courses in computer technology, clerical work, and others.
K-12 will produce more mature students. “Our high school graduates are immature… can we do something about it?” quipped a fellow Rotarian complaining about immature jejemon graduates. In K-12 curriculum, students graduating are of legal age– 18 years old. Meaning, they are more mature psychologically and are enabled legally.
They can look for work and sign contracts with the employers not fearing about child labor and abuse. K-12 globalizes our graduates. One of the biggest problems of our biggest export– the OFWs – are handicapped by the number of years in Basic Education.
Let’s look at the SEA level, Thailand does not consider Philippine degrees, even from the best universities, as equal those awarded by its own institutions. The reason: we have a 10 year basic education curriculum. Other countries share Thailand’s reservation.
In a rapidly globalizing world, we cannot fence-sit and let the tides go by. There is a need to change and to reform our educational system. Sticking to a system which produces unskilled and unqualified workforce is an effective way of placing our country in a downward spiral. I fear that we will fall into the tipping point when ignorance feeds ignorance and we can no longer change. As it is today, it is hard for people to change for the long-term when everyone looks after the short-term.