K to 12 Program in Los Baños: A visit to the pilot classes

by Margie I. Calilap, Jan Amiel C. De Leon, Kaizzey Marjorie T. Javier, Ysabel Anne C. Lee, Nicole Lorraine R. Prieto, and Mary Josene Uriel V. Villar

Halfway through the academic year of the K to 12 Program pilot, there are understandably mixed reactions from different stakeholders regarding the implementation and effectiveness of the program. K to 12’s main communicated advantage – producing more educated and competent graduates who could become high caliber professionals in the future – will be experienced in the long run.

At this early stage of K to 12 implementation, what is more felt is the difficulty encountered and being dealt with by school administrators, teachers, parents, and students.

K to 12 Program, in review

June 2012 ushered in the implementation of the Department of Education (DepEd)’s K to 12 Program.  The new program uses revised curriculum for Grades 1 and 7, with Grade 7 formerly being the first year in high school.

One of the objectives of K to 12 is to “provide a 12-year basic education program with strong fundamentals to equip students with life-skills and competencies, thus making graduates more productive and responsible citizens of the country”. This is according to DepEd’s Discussion Paper on the Enhanced K to 12 Basic Education Program formulated in 2010.

DepEd has selected conveners to cover different learning areas such as Social Studies, Language (English, Filipino, and Mother-tongue based), Science, Mathematics, Health, Music, and Art.

Assistant Professor Czarina Agcaoili from the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Education said that she was assigned to a learning area team (LAT) along with colleague Asst. Prof. Vanessa Oyzon. Professors Agcaoili and Oyzon worked with other teachers from the Department of History of the UP College of Social Sciences and Philosophy including Dr. Maria Serena Diokno, who spearheaded their LAT.

The medium of instruction used in the materials and for teaching Grade 1 are meant to be translated to various regional languages in accordance with the mother-tongue based instruction guidelines. Prof. Agcaoili explained that, “Based on the results of studies, kasi mas natututo ang mga mag-aaral kung ang gamit ang language na una nilang nakagisnan (students have a better understanding of the lesson if it is taught using their first language).”

Schools around Los Baños, Laguna, such as Maquiling School Incorporated (MSI), Los Baños National High School (LBNHS), and the University of the Philippines Rural High School (UPRHS) have started implementing K-12 this academic year. All three schools have oriented the parents and students and introduced them to the K-12 program. The workshops also served as venues to address concerns and questions about the implementation of K to 12.

As a private school, MSI easily adapted to the implementation of the K-12 program saying that the school started to prepare as soon as DepEd proposed the K to 12 program.

Public and private schools are mandated to adhere closely to the guidelines of the program, since they are under the jurisdiction of DepEd. This is not the case for the UPRHS, which in principle, is under DepEd the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), as it is a unit under the UP Los Baños College of Arts and Sciences. Nevertheless, UPRHS modified its curriculum to enhance subject offerings to be synchronous with the K to 12 pilot.

School Administrators as implementers

School administrators of MSI, LBNHS, and UPRHS have expressed the view that the K-12 program is indeed beneficial for the students and also for the country. The schools have embraced the K to 12 program with positive feedback.

“The school management is always open to positive curriculum changes,” said MSI Principal Mona Opaco. “It is too early to assess (the outcome of K to 12) but one thing is for sure, the school will continue to improve and adopt the program.”

LBNHS Principal Leonila Murad viewed K to 12 in positive light. She views the program as the “sagot sa kahirapan (solution to poverty)” adding that “K to 12 is the solution for quality education that we had been longing all these years.”

Prof. Liza Carascal, the principal of UPRHS, observed that some Filipinos tend to be stubborn about accepting the fact that not all of our high school graduates are prime college material, and said “kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa tayo magsisimula (If we do not act on it now, then when do we plan to)?

Added cost for parents

Misinterpretation of information may have caused some parents’ disfavor towards the implementation of K to 12. They view the program as a factor that only aggravates their current financial burden because of the two additional school years they’d need to finance for their children’s education. “Okay sana ang K to 12, pero mas okay sana kung inayos nalang nila yung quality of education sa Pilipinas (K to 12 is okay. But it would have been better if they just improve the quality of education in the Philippines),” said Mrs. Solisi.

Students torn about the effects of K to 12

Students as beneficiaries of the program share different perspectives about the implementation of the program.

The majority of the freshmen interviewed from the LBNHS said that they are in favor of the K to 12 and are excited to be part of the first batch of students to undertake the program. “Noong una po talagang naguguluhan kami. Eh pinaliwanag naman po sa amin yung benefits na maitutulong sa amin. Sang-ayon na po kami .(At first we were confused but after being briefed and oriented about the benefits of the program, we eventually agreed),” this is according to a freshman of the pilot class of LBNHS.

On the contrary, other students tend to disagree because of assumptions that K to 12 might imply added academic load and financial burden. Ms. Tolentino, a freshman student of MSI said, remains neutral to the issue saying “…Yung iba kailangan po nila yung K to 12 kasi wala po silang pampaaral sa college. Yung mga gusto naman po mag-college, madadagdagan pa ng dalawang taon (It will benefit those who cannot afford to go to college at the same time, those who want to go to college are required to take two more years)”.

Favorable responses from the students to the K to 12 can be attributed to the comprehensive background on K to 12 given to them.

Going back to basics: the main reason for K to 12 implementation

K-12 was proposed primarily because degree holders from the Philippines are not recognized abroad. This is because the current 10-year basic education system in the country does not comply with the almost universal threshold of 12 years basic education. “Of course, gusto natin makasabay sa mundo at ma-acknowledge ang professionals natin sa labas ng bansa (we want to be able to be part of global changes and be recognized as professionals outside the country),” said Ms. Helen Ramos, DepEd’s K to 12 coordinator in San Pablo, Laguna.

When asked if public high schools have enough facilities to accommodate the large number of students enrolled when the time grades and 11 and 12 are introduced, Ms. Ramos clarified that the DepEd will tap the resources of private schools in order to achieve the goal of accommodating the number of students who will be attending senior high.

“In any change process, there will always be adjustments and adaptations,” Ms. Ramos stated. “And it will be good to muster strong political will to drive K to 12 forward,” she added.

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