"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, April 13, 2015

Why DepEd K+12 Reform Is Destined to Fail

There are three reasons why the education reform initiated by the Aquino administration is very likely to fail. The first reason is obvious, as stated by Nick Morrison, in an article published in Forbes, "Education Reform Will Fail Unless You Get Teachers on Board".

Above copied from Forbes
In the article, Morrison specifically describes what it means by not having teachers on board, "Too many education reforms are imposed on teachers, who are told what they have to teach and how they have to teach it," echoing OECD’s Director for Education and Skills Andreas Schleicher's statement, "Teachers are not just part of the delivery of reforms."

Philippines' Secretary of Education, Brother Armin Luistro, completely misses this important point as he delivers a message to future teachers:
“This is the fifth year of our educational reform. It is more than a change in curriculum—it requires a change of perspective; it requires a change of heart of those who will implement it and bring it to fruition. It requires your cooperation, your initiative, and your own contribution to make the reform work.”
Public school teachers in the Philippines are told exactly what they need to do, up to the very detail. Teachers in the Philippines, for instance, are shown specifically how to compute grades for students up to the second decimal place and transmute these percentages so that the lowest possible grade becomes 60. Teachers are not on board with DepEd's K+12 curriculum. The message from the Alliance of Concerned Teachers is clear: "Stop K to 12". DepEd's idea of including teachers in education reform is therefore simple, "Just do what DepEd says."


The second reason should also be equally apparent. DepEd's K+12 is grounded on wrong reasons. Three years ago, I responded (shown in red) to each of the common motivations or reasons behind the new curriculum:
Five Key Benefits of the K to 12 Basic Education Program 
1. It will produce globally competitive graduates

The K to 12 program answers the need for a 12-year education system which is at par with international standards such as the Washington Accord and the Bologna Accord. Graduates of the K to 12 program will be perceived with increased competency and have better global opportunities.

The Washington and Bologna Accord have nothing to do with basic education. These are agreement between countries on higher education. There is no international standard for basic education. K to 12 has nothing to do with the standards set by both Washington and Bologna agreements. These are for higher education.

2. Students will learn more easily

The improved basic education curriculum is decongested and focused. Students will have more time learning core academic areas thus ensuring better comprehension. Also, pupils from Grade 3 and below will be thought in their mother tongue to ensure better understanding of basic concepts.

Merely changing the curriculum does not guarantee that students will learn more easily. The new curriculum carries shorter instructional hours and now includes mother tongue instruction in addition to Filipino and English. At the heart of curriculum reform is the teacher, which this new program has ignored. Kindergarten teaching has been delegated to volunteers who are paid 3000 pesos a month.

3. Students will be free to pursue their passion

The new curriculum will be learner-centered. Students will be allowed to choose elective subjects and specializations which they really want. The students will love learning more and will grow to their full potential. Whether the students want to be professionals, businessmen, artists or athletes, theirs skills and talents will be honed and nurtured.

Basic education, elementary and high school, is expected for all. In fact, it is compulsory in other countries. Basic means essential and it is not a matter of choice. Pursuing one's passion is already a matter of either vocational or higher education.

4. There will be savings on college tuition fees

Grade 11 and 12 takes the form of a two-year college education. In a public school, this is tuition-free. In effect, the number of year of college courses will decrease because of redundancies. Those who will pursue college will have fewer years to pay for. Graduates will also receive training certifications, which reduces the need to study a vocational course.

College education is very different from education in high school. There may be a repetition in subjects but the environment and pace are not the same as in high school. If there is indeed an equivalence then higher education institutions in the Philippines are not doing their job properly.

5. It will reduce unemployment rate and improve the economy

With the increased competence and workmanship due to TESDA-like training and college-like education included in the new curriculum, the graduates will become highly employable, reducing the rate of unemployment in the Philippines. Those who are passionate about starting businesses will be enabled to open more job opportunities.

One must look at the reasons behind unemployment. Unemployment is not solely decided by the labor market. And the same is true for the economy. Starting businesses require not only a passion but more importantly, capital.

The K to 12 basic education program aims not only to produce better graduates but also to improve the quality of life of the country as a whole. What is asked from us as Filipino citizens is that we support the program in whatever ways we can, share the information to others and, most of all, believe in the success of this program.

The government must be the first one to show its full support for the program by first funding appropriately and adequately the kindergarten portion of the new curriculum.
The third reason is the lack of evidence-based research supporting the new curriculum. The new curriculum uses spiral progression, multiple intelligences, and learning styles. Some of these are myths. Some are currently questioned by education experts and psychologists.

Education reform in the Philippines must come from the front line. It must be taken for the right reasons. It must be based on evidence.

At this point, the matter of great concern to teachers is not really the curriculum or the number of years in education. Teachers are not given the resources and are forced to work in overcrowded classrooms. By merely claiming that the success of an educational reform lies on teachers, while dictating what teachers should exactly do without providing the necessary resources, really leaves no room for cooperation and initiative, and in the end, the only remaining possibility is failure.




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