A Logistical NightMare

The Senior High School (SHS) years of DepEd's K to 12 are in some ways similar to a buffet. There are four different tracks to choose from: Academic, Technical-Vocational-Livelihood, Sports, and Arts and Design. In addition, there are four different strands under the Academic track: Accountancy, Business and Management (ABM); General Academic; Humanities and Social Science (HUMSS); and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). These tracks obviously make the SHS years much more than just decongesting the former ten-year basic education curriculum. The Technical-Vocational-Livelihood track appears to be a substitute for old fashioned vocational schools while the Academic track seems to provide students a taste of higher education. Since SHS is part of compulsory basic education, it does appear that students would now be able to receive such training at much lower costs. One hopes that the similarities between SHS and buffet stop at choices and lower prices, and not continue on perceptions, as demonstrated in this study on an all-you-can-eat (AYCE) Italian buffet:

Above copied from the Journal of Sensory Studies
It is the same buffet, yet customers actually feel less satisfied when it is offered at a lower price. It is quite a perplexing paradox.

Although proponents discuss at length "perceived benefits" of the SHS years of DepEd's K to 12, there are many more challenges, perhaps even more important than how people may perceive SHS of DepEd's K to 12. These other challenges are actually faced by managers of buffet as well. These are logistical challenges. For a buffet operation to be successful, it is important to know beforehand what and how much do customers really want. It is only with this thoughtful planning that resources can be aligned appropriately to customer demands. The following approach described by Michelle Gessner, senior vice president of administration for Ovation, illustrates what could be helpful in managing a buffet.
Ovation Brands collects data weekly on waste in its restaurants. From there, the numbers are plugged into a computer for modeling based on time of year. Projections are made for the number of customers expected, along with what they’ll likely eat. 
“We know pretty well how much food will be consumed on any particular day,” says Gessner. “We use far more fish products on the weekends, more salads at the beginning of the year. Meatloaf and fried chicken are the most popular items.”
The above approach is obviously much easier to implement in the food industry. To guide decisions, data can actually be collected and made available in a relatively short period of time. The restaurant can change how and what it serves within a day. Ovation brands obviously chose to work on a year-long data, providing the company the information on habits and preferences of customers throughout a year. Doing the same thing for education is far more challenging.

The first question is how would the students be distributed across the different tracks of SHS. Here is DepEd's answer:
  • Students will undergo assessments to determine their strengths and interests. These will include an aptitude test, a career assessment exam, and an occupational interest inventory for high schools. Career advocacy activities will also be conducted to help guide students in choosing their specialization or track.
Apparently, there are assessments, exams and counselings scheduled this year to help guide students. Information regarding this distribution is essential since the different tracks require different resources - especially in terms of instructors. The various tracks do have core subjects but there are courses that are exclusive to a particular track.

Above copied from Rex Publishing
In addition, the core subjects are not necessarily identical between tracks. For instance, in the STEM strand of the Academic track, students take a core course Disaster Readiness and Risk Reduction instead of physical science.

With these wide variations across tracks, DepEd still manages to furnish projections for the number of teachers required to implement SHS. In a report submitted by DepEd to lawmakers a year ago, the following are the numbers of teachers DepEd is planning to hire to implement SHS in 2016 and 2017:
  • English (5,197 to 8,178)
  • Filipino (4,626 to 7,267)
  • Social Science (5,529 to 8,697)
  • Humanities (2,665 to 4,171)
  • Math/Statistics (4,626 to 7,267)
  • Advance Math (382 to 609)
  • Physical Science (4,022 to 6,313)
  • Life Science (3,640 to 5,707)
  • Information & Communications Technology (2,560 to 3,982)
  • ABM/Economics/Entrepreneurship (4,043 to 6,356)
  • Philosophy (2,162 to 3,412)
  • Physical Education (1,737 to 4,055)
  • Technical Vocational Education & Training. (9,900 to 15,634)
It is amazing to see that even with a large range for the numbers above, the bounds are reported with four digits. For example, how does DepEd know that the lowest number of Physical Education teachers SHS would need is 1,737 and not 1736? In any case, one can try to reconcile the above numbers with the following list of core subjects and guess how DepEd is actually projecting the distribution across the various SHS tracks.

Above copied from DepEd
A supermajority of the students is expected to take the Technical-Vocational-Livelihood track. And within the Academic track, most are expected to take either the Accountancy, Business and Management or the Humanities and the Social Sciences strands, but not Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. If these projections are correct, it then becomes difficult to swallow the excuse DepEd gives, that the SHS program can mitigate the anticipated problems of instructors in college. The following comment on a post made by ABS-CBN News Channel now becomes really logical.