What Is Wrong with DepEd's K+12?

There is so much focus on the additional two years at the end of high school that not much attention has been given to the other changes that have been made with the introduction of the new curriculum. One aspect that sets apart Philippine schools from those in other countries is the number of instructional hours intended for the early grades. The following is a chart that shows the number of instructional hours required for the early grades in elementary school:
Chart based on OECD Data 
At the bottom of this chart is the Philippines. DepEd's K+12 prescribes 240 minutes of instruction per day during the first semester of first grade, 270 minutes per day for the second semester of first grade, and 310 minutes per day for second grade. A school year in the Philippines consists of 200 days. The short instructional hours in the Philippines are in part imposed by shortages in teachers and classrooms, necessitating multiple shifts.

There is really no difference between absenteeism and extremely short instructional hours. In fact, the short instructional hours may even promote absenteeism. When I first criticized DepEd's K+12, I made the following comment:
Last but not the least (in fact, this point is crucial), the proposed K plus 12 curriculum also involves short school hours. This seems to be an attempt to enable multiple shifts in the schools. This goes against decongesting the curriculum. It likewise does not make it worthwhile for schoolchildren especially those who have to travel far to attend school. This also opens opportunities for child labor as well as greater environmental (outside of school) influences on children education. Elementary schools in the US are full day so that students do have time to cover the material and, at the same time, it allows parents to work and be more productive. A full day in school means less television, less video games, less time on the streets, and less other activities that do not contribute to a sound education of the young.
There is no doubt that absenteeism affects education outcomes. These are the latest data from Attendance Works in the United States:

Above figure copied from Attendance Works
Doing some simple math here, 3 days of absence in one month translates to missing about 15% of school hours. This results in a reduction of 11 points in reading and 13 points in math. A 10 point drop in this scale is roughly equivalent to falling behind by one year in elementary school. Going back to the total number of instructional hours pupils in the early grades in the Philippines receives, it is clear that these students are missing at least 15% of instructional time compared to those in other countries. It is therefore not surprising why students in the Philippines are falling way behind children in other countries. In the Philippines, one does not have to be chronically absent. The curriculum simply has made this automatic....


  1. On the issue of overcrowded class rooms, can an AM/PM session be doable? Let's say 7-12 for the morning classes, and 1-6 for the afternoon, with Saturday mornings for PE. Of course addition rooms would have to be added simultaneously while the student population grows to keep the class room number at a maximum of 50.


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