"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

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

An Alternative to DepEd's K to 12

The Duterte administration that is scheduled to take over at the end of this month inherits DepEd's K to 12. There is the opinion that there is really no turning back as suspending the program will only lead to chaos and much wasted effort. An education reform needs to be weighed by evidence. A program that does not lead to better learning outcomes and instead, damages education and the society, needs to be scrapped as soon as possible. Economist Raul Fabella wrote four years ago in "K+12: Wasteland":
"...Sure there were scattered anecdotes of Philippine diploma holders having some problems in the global job market but that the concern for “missing years” could be partly explained by the perceived decline in quality of our graduates. Indian Institute of Technology engineering graduates are highly sought after globally despite no more aggregate number of schooling years than Philippine engineering graduates. Those potentially affected Philippine graduates can solve the missing years’ problem themselves by taking two years more of schooling after college, say, taking an MA privately financed. “Private benefit, private cost” is a healthy economic principle. 
K to 12 needs a radical change in operating philosophy. It must go slowly and gingerly beyond the Kindergarten segment and abort any segment unsupported by evidence of learning improvement. For the moment it should be open to the two years being added to the college curriculum on the basis of private benefit private cost principle...."
Currently, four years of the new curriculum have now been in effect in both elementary and high schools. It is therefore imperative to assess whether the new styles of teaching, the spiral curriculum of teaching math and the sciences, guided inquiry, and the mother-tongue based multilingual education are effective. Lame statements are not enough. Evidence is required. These changes similar to the additional years brought by DepEd's K to 12 can be rolled back. The spiral curriculum in the sciences only worsens the problems of science education in the Philippines. There are no good learning resources for the spiral approach since the sciences are often taught as separate subjects in other countries. The requirement that a high school teacher be equipped to teach all four sciences is something that can not be easily met especially in a country where qualified teachers in the sciences are already few.

Establishing thirteen years of education as compulsory is substantially different from what the Constitution of the Philippines states:
Article XIV,  Section 2.2 The State shall:
Establish and maintain a system of free public education in the elementary and high school levels. Without limiting the natural right of parents to rear their children, elementary education is compulsory for all children of school age;
The Philippines is therefore going from six years to thirteen years of compulsory education. This is more than a hundred percent increase, which is truly ridiculous when the Philippine government can not even provide adequately for its public elementary schools. Such a significant increase can have a dramatic impact on Philippine society. Fabella's advice to go slowly and gingerly needs to be followed as dire consequences can be just down the road.

A recent study on the Swedish educational system is able to look at the effects of increasing compulsory education in the 1950's from eight to nine years. The students who have gone through this change are now in their fifties. In this case, there is clearly an increase in cognitive measures but the education reform has also led to poorer emotional control.

Above copied from

Anton Lager, Dominika Seblova, Daniel Falkstedt,
and Martin Lövdén
Cognitive and emotional outcomes after prolonged education: a quasi-experiment on 320 182 Swedish boys. Int. J. Epidemiol. first published online June 2, 2016 doi:10.1093/ije/dyw093
The study also points out that among various factors, poor emotional control is strongly correlated with mortality rate. The changes that were made more than fifty years ago in Sweden are tiny compared to DepEd's K to 12 yet Sweden has provided us an excellent window through which we can see what the effects may be without waiting for half a century.

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