"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

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Is DepEd's K to 12 a Success?

Obviously, one can not assess whether an education reform is successful if the new curriculum is thirteen years long and only three years have passed since its implementation. The graduates of the new K to 12 curriculum are those finishing basic education in 2024. Graduates of the new secondary education component of DepEd's K to 12 are those finishing high school in 2018. The effectiveness of the spiral progression in math and the sciences, however, can be assessed at the end of this school year since current fourth year high school students have gone through a complete four year sequence through these disciplines.

It is quite disingenuous for the president of the Philippines to claim success of the new curriculum by presenting the case of 19-year old Rezia Joy Jianoran. Below is an excerpt from the State of the Nation Address of President Aquino on 27 July 2015.

Above copied from DepEd Philippines Facebook page
Let us listen to a story that is proof of this:
Translated transcript of Testimonial of Rezia Joy Jianoran 

My father has been a jeepney driver all my life. When I was in my second year of high school, my mom suffered a stroke. I didn’t ask, but I knew that they couldn’t afford to send me to college.

Instead of dropping out of school, I decided to continue my studies under the K to 12 program. My chosen track of specialization was the Drafting Technology course.

Part of the K to 12 program is the career immersion. I was assigned to CLP Metal, a metal fabrication company.

I was tasked to design machines. This machine was designed to de-hair pigs. Once a pig is processed, after several seconds, it comes out without any hair.

A machine like this can only be bought abroad. Because of the design by CLP, we’re able to adjust to the budget restrictions of our customers.

I’m extremely proud because when you think about it: how many 19-year olds can say they have designed a machine?

I’m proud that I’m a K to 12 graduate because I can now support my family. And I’m learning while I’m earning.
Rezia is not a K to 12 graduate. Rezia is a graduate from the old curriculum who took additional years and in the process received an employment opportunity based on a specific technical training program at the same metal fabrication company.

There are other statements or claims made by the Philippine president with regard to the state of basic education in the country. It is therefore useful to read as well comments from those who have no reason to be disingenuous. The following is the statement from the Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities in the Philippines (CoTeSCUP):
COTESCUP'S STATEMENT ON THE 5TH STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS OF PRES. BENIGNO SIMEON C. AQUINO III 
The fifth State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III has just been concluded, and as expected, the President showcased to the nation the gains of his Administration in the last five years. He underscored that these accomplishments were made amidst the bleak and volatile economic, political, and social conditions brought about by the previous administration. The Suspend K-12 Coalition, led by the Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities in the Philippines (CoTeSCUP), is one with the nation in commending the Aquino Administration for seeing into fruition, albeit in part, the ‘social contract’ it forged with the Filipino people during the 2010 national elections. While we believe that the touted economic advancement under his Administration still needs to felt by Filipinos living in the margins of our society, and that the sustainability of said reforms still remains questionable, we acknowledge his Administration’s efforts that benefited a number of our people. 
The President’s report on the Education Sector, and the warm message of gratitude he sent to the heads of education agencies, painted a positive future for all education stakeholders. Indeed, the numbers put forward were staggering. The President claimed that backlogs of 61.7 million textbooks and 2.5 million chairs have been filled in 2012, and the shortage of 66,800 classrooms and 145,827 teachers were addressed by 2013. The President added that his Administration plans to hire 39,000 teachers this year, and budgeted for an additional 60,000 teacher items in 2016. He further announced that 73.9 million textbooks and 1.6 million chairs have already been previously distributed over and above the filled backlogs. For this year, he declared that 88.7 million textbooks and 1.6 million chairs have already been delivered. For 2016, the President budgeted for an additional 103.2 million textbooks and 4.4 million chairs. With the gaps in education infrastructure and resources seemingly covered, the President laid claim to the conviction that his successor will no longer have to face seemingly insurmountable challenges in this sector. “Hindi na tayo mag-iiwan ng sakit ng ulo sa susunod sa atin,” the President proclaimed.
It is easy, however, to be lost in the numbers. We find it alarming that President Aquino seemed to be oblivious to the specter of K-12 hovering over education stakeholders once the K-12 Law is fully implemented in 2016. Massive labor displacement among faculty and staff of higher educational institutions, added financial burdens to parents and students, compounded shortages in education infrastructure and shortages, and the apparent inability of the Department of Education (DepEd) to manage its own budget and the subsequent challenges brought about by the transition to K-12, on top of the perennial problems affecting the education sector such as the 6.38% drop-out rates, 1:38 teacher-student ratio, the presence of shifting and multi-grade classes ----- all these are left largely unanswered by education agencies in the various platforms we engaged them in. We also find it disconcerting that the President is lost in the grey areas and drowned in the astonishing numbers provided by the agencies, unmindful that global competition in the education arena exists not in basic but in higher education. We further wondered if the President has been fully informed of the real situation in our schools. We doubt if the President is alerted of the delays in the delivery of education infrastructure and resources, the mass promotion policy that sacrifices the quality of education, the inadequate voucher system and the corresponding non-committal response of private schools to accept it, and the incapacity of the DepEd to offer all the tracks vaunted for in the K-12 program. The President appears to be unaware that the fundamental problems of availability, accessibility, and quality of education services still exist and persist in our schools. He fails to realize that poverty, as evidenced in many studies, affects learning outcomes resulting in poor performance of Filipino students in math and sciences in international standards. Poverty is one the main reasons why students are forced to drop out of school. 
We appeal to President Aquino to take his education officials to task and exact from them the truth that confronts those on the ground: teachers, parents, and students. In the last few months of his Presidency, we urge him to listen to the voice of his real Bosses, and not confine himself to the reports of his official family. We call on him to look not at what his officials have claimed to accomplish, but focus on what they have failed to deliver, or what they are bound to do that will further marginalize teachers, parents, and students. 
President Aquino, please do not allow that your legacy in the education sector be reduced to a numbers game. Once again, we ask you to reconsider your position on the K-12 program. The K-12 program does not respect, protect nor uphold the labor rights of teachers, and the constitutional rights of parents and students to relevant and meaningful education. We urge you to carefully examine the reality behind the numbers, and use the power vested in your office to stop a program that have put in peril the lives and livelihood of teachers, parents, and students, your Bosses. 
We call on you. Suspend K-12 Now!

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