"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Monday, March 9, 2015

Suspend DepEd's K + 12

There remains a movement in the Philippines demanding for the suspension of the new K+12 curriculum. The Suspend K to 12 Alliance lists the following as reasons why the new program should be stopped: (1) lack of preparation on the part of the government as classrooms and teaching materials are still lacking, (2) removal of Filipino, Literature and Philippine government and constitution from the General Education curriculum of colleges, (3) loss of college enrollment for two years and job loss of college instructors, and (4) the new curriculum lacking a nationalist orientation. Yes, K+12 must be suspended but not for these reasons. K+12 must be suspended because it is a bad curriculum. Any curriculum faces the same shortages in resources and any problems in higher education must be addressed at that level and not at the basic education level. Ultimately, asking for suspension based on the wrong reasons only elicits the same response from the government.

Above copied from the Manila Bulletin
The new curriculum needs to address the problems basic education in the Philippines faces with available resources. It must focus on the early years so that more expensive and often ineffective interventions are avoided. Basic education must recognize the various languages the country has, but aiming for three languages is asking too much. The spiral curriculum in the sciences must be discarded especially when teachers proficient in the sciences are lacking. The high school curriculum can be tailored such that colleges do not need to teach algebra and other remedial courses in their general education curriculum.

The addition of kindergarten to basic education is a good step and the Philippines can do with more. Kindergarten, in its current state in public schools, is more like preschool. The change in the early years therefore can be as simple as moving each year back, that is, the current kindergarten can be regarded as pre-K. The current curriculum with its emphasis on oral (and not written) instruction and learning allows for mother tongue instruction without the need for a large amount of learning materials. The current first grade which likewise is not as rigorous compared to first grades in other countries can be the new kindergarten. Second grade can be first grade, so on and so forth. The addition of pre-K changes the number of formal schooling years before high school to eight. An optional bridging seventh grade can be added to ensure that every child starting high school can tackle algebra, the various science disciplines, and critical reading and writing. The four years of high school can then focus each year on biology, chemistry, physics, and the earth sciences. All years of elementary schooling should use the mother tongue and English. Instruction in the national language can begin in high school. This decompresses basic education in the early years and allows for children to develop cognitively with their mother tongue while focusing more on reading and early mathematics. The problems in Philippine basic education really arise in the early years so extra effort and attention must be given to pre-K through sixth grade. High school benefits greatly with students well prepared by their elementary schooling. With a poor elementary schooling, high school education becomes merely remedial education. This only continues into college where remedial courses in reading, writing, math and sciences become the norm and not the exception. This vicious cycle can only be broken by addressing the problems before these become serious in the elementary years. With pre-K being offered to five-year olds, high school graduation happens at the age of seventeen, only a year different from the old (before K+12) curriculum. Since the added year happens at the beginning, it only affects those who are starting school at the year the new curriculum is implemented. In its first year of implementation, there is no kindergarten. In its second year, there is no first grade. And only after more than ten years, would college enrollment have any concern.

The above, of course, is not fool proof. Any curriculum is only as good as its implementation. These changes, however, are a lot more conservative such that more attention could be given to improving resources as well as professional development of teachers. These are better places where limited funds can be spent instead of trying to force an ill-thought curriculum that is riddled with so many errors. DepEd's K+12 is an inferior curriculum. It is a huge waste of money. DepEd's K+12 introduces huge challenges especially in the senior years of high school. In addition, every grade has been dramatically changed such that everything needs to be reworked. Continuing in this path can be catastrophic. This is the true reason why K+12 must be suspended....

Unfortunately, even the true reasons would receive the same "Let's have a dialogue or consultation" response, a euphemism of "We are not going to listen to you." The Aquino administration has not been known for owning up to its mistakes or taking responsibility.


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