Ricochet: Will K+12 fail?

Written By: Rene Ezpeleta Bartolo
Monday, 04 June 2012
Category: Opinion

Will the K+12 program of the Department of Education (DepEd) fail? Many academic scientists believe it will, if we believe Flor Lacanilao, retired professor of marine science from the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

In an article written for a national daily, Professor Lacanilao cited four reasons why the program which begins implementation today, is headed for failure.

These reasons are: (1) the new program should first undergo a trial run at selected schools before nationwide adoption; (2) there are no valid studies of local problems to support the curricular changes and additional two years; (3) the new program components did not consider the relevant results of international research on science education; and (4) there are more urgent problems like teachers, classrooms, textbooks, dropouts, etc.

The adoption of the K+12 program was announced a year ago. There was the general impression among officials of the DepEd that adding two more years to the Filipino schoolchild’s total education process and obliging the young to start formal education with kindergarten would improve, like a wish, the educational system of the country.

It was all reduced to a matter of addition, not quality improvement, really. There was no dry run of the program to speak of, only assumptions. What I know is that education officials and teachers went on frequent and extended seminars, workshops, conferences, teach-ins, s-w-o-t analysis sessions and the like, as if informing the key players about the program was enough assurance that the program would succeed.

Whatever public information was done was at best perfunctory and, to this day, many parents still do not understand the why’s and wherefore’s of K+12. Among parents, there were many misgivings about additional expenses to the parents, added burden to the schoolchildren, and a host of other complaints – there still are.

There were many misgivings about additional expenses, and added burden to the children. There were many assurances from the implementers, rosy pictures of how the program will ultimately make the country competitive with the rest of the world.

There was much talk, so much that one gets reminded of what Alexander Pope wrote: “Words are like leaves; where they abound, much fruit of sense is seldom found.”

Is there much sense in implementing a program that has not been tested on the ground? After all, this is not a new subject or schedule being introduced. This involves the overhaul of the whole educational system.

The fourth reason pointed out by Professor Lacanilao is the “more urgent problems like teachers, classrooms, textbooks, dropouts, etc.”

In a number of previous columns, I tried to tackle these nagging issues plaguing the country’s education: overworked, underpaid, professionally ill-equipped, poorly trained teachers; sorely inadequate and dilapidated classrooms; erroneous and non-existing textbooks.

As early as March 2005, I wrote the column “Education?” I said:

“Classroom. Book. Teacher. And the necessary Knowledge to impart Knowledge. These are the essential components of education. Quality education therefore means quality classrooms, quality teachers, quality books, and the obsession to teach…”

How about dropouts? Well, the worsening state of the country’s educational system, including worsening hunger in the countryside and the slums of the nation have resulted in more dropouts.

On April 14 this year, in the column “The Graduate”, I wrote:

“Of the 20 million schoolchildren, those living in some 13,000 barangays will go to classes without classrooms. Instructions will be given in makeshift structures, private homes or public buildings, or under the proverbial acacia tree.

“Many will be lucky enough to receive instruction with a proper roof over their heads inside proper school buildings. But almost 20,000 of these school buildings will have no proper toilets: hygiene will be a difficult subject to teach to these children.”

In the few weeks leading to the start of classes today, we saw the recurrence and worsening, even, of the problems mentioned above.

To the pre-existing problems, the DepEd is adding another problem – the haphazard introduction of an untested program

Is that not trying to solve a problem with another problem?

Ain’t that not the height of nonsense, Bro?

(For comments and reactions, email: rene_bartolo_at_yahoo.com)


  1. Personally, I believe that the K-12 will work. Problem is, we might not have wise people behind the DepEd.

    It should be a wholistic approach. But it should also be gradual a process. Evolution doesn't happen overnight. That is what education is - a continual evolution.

    Also when implemented, it should not be simultaneous for all schools but instead should be gradually implemented school by school. Otherwise there will be a problem with college enrollment.

    It could be implemented alphabetically for example. Like all school names and their national branches starting with "A" go first, ending with thos starting with "Z". This is probably the dumbest method, but it should work.

    I would also like to personally address the DepEd to stop pestering CHED to adjust its number of years so it can "get away with" the K-12. The basic education's K-12 has absolutely "nothing to do" with higher education's curriculum content.

    If K-12 will increase years in basic education, higher education should be left to decide how to deal with that change.

    After all, in higher education, nobody cares how many years you took, only the high school diploma matters.

    For those unfamiliar with K-12 feel free to look it up in Wikipedia. It's actually a good thing. It's just that we need to create our own K-12 that works for us.


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