K to 12 in San Pablo: A look into the pilot’s first quarter

by Ralph Lester C. Bañaga, Maria Celina A. Bernardo, Em S. Mandanas, Roman A. Moreno, Adrianne G. San Miguel, Paolo Emmanuel B. Torres, and Jamille Rachel G. Villeno

June 4, 2012 marked the first day of implementation of the K to 12 Program in the country. Three months into the pilot implementation and it comes as no surprise that the new program is received with mixed reactions from the school administrators, teachers, and parents.

Mrs. Jacqueline Villeno, the principal of Nino Jesus Science Oriented Montessori School explained that the K to 12 Program has only been implemented in the Philippines for a few months. According to Mrs. Villeno, different reactions are to be expected from all those involved and affected by the new curriculum.

While students like Jolyn Bernadette F. Antonio, Ma. Loricka A. Castillo, and Francis G. Beron are aware that the K to 12 curriculum will offer more advanced lessons leading to better quality of education, they also know the added cost of the new curriculum, the usual reason for the parents' disfavor for the K to 12 Program.

On March 23, Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Armin A. Luistro passed DepEd Order No. 31 to all schools and offices of DepEd stating the implementation of Grade 1 to 12 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) in the Philippines.

Prior to the implementation of K to 12 in the Philippines, there were only three countries in the world that have a ten-year education program namely the Philippines, Nepal, and Mongolia. Nepal still implements the ten-year educational system while Mongolia has recently shifted to a 12-year curriculum.

All stakeholders are coping with the changes brought about by the implementation of the K to 12 Program. For school administrators, teachers, and parents, it’s a period of adjustment.

Mrs. Helen Ramos, a DepEd San Pablo science teacher, agrees that using the mother tongue allows students to express themselves better in class, facilitating better learning. While the use of the mother tongue has its advantages, it becomes a challenge when dealing with technical terms. Ms. Arlene G. Brion, an English teacher in San Pablo Central School, explained that there may be difficulty in understanding the teaching materials especially when students have to be well versed with their mother tongue and English.

The readiness of teachers for the new curriculum is a critical factor to the effective implementation of the K to 12 Program. According to Ms. Brion, the public school teachers underwent a training for the K to 12 curriculum in May in preparation for the June implementation of K to 12.

The school materials provided for the K to 12 curriculum is also the cause of some concerns. Ms. Brion said that the materials that arrived during the last week of June are not enough for the students enrolled this school year.

Despite of the difficulties in adjusting to the new curriculum, the teachers continue to try their best to be at pace with their students. As Ms. Brion said “we have to find ways for the students to learn from us.”

Teachers, like Ms. Arlene G. Brion of San Pablo Central Elementary School, take it as part of their duty to ensure that learning takes place under the new curriculum despite of the limitations that they encounter.

Among parents, the cost of the additional two years in basic education means added expenses for their children’s education. Mrs. Fe Ann O. Arago, parent of an elementary student, explained that since she is the only one working for her family, they would really need to tighten their budget.

For parents, like Mrs. Amelita B. Cruz and Mrs. Lucita G. Reyes, the additional years in education translates to additional costs.

Mrs. Amelita B. Cruz, parent and a retired teacher, confirms that parents will need more money to finance the studies of their children. However, Mrs. Cruz also added that the K to 12 curriculum is will provide students with the basic skills and experience to decide on what college course to take.

Ms. Ana Banayo, a DepEd research officer, explained that students will be able to get a job that suits them better. Compared with the previous curriculum, students will have better mastery of basic competencies.

As designed in the K to 12 Program, Ms. Banayo added that junior high school offers additional subjects for basic subjects in college level. Senior high school, on the other hand, allows the student to choose from three specializations, namely:  (1) academic, (2) technical-vocational, and (3) sports and arts. This way, students would have clearer views on what profession they want to have in the future. “Yung graduates natin will be recognized as professionals (Our graduates will be recognized as professionals),” she added.

While Filipinos will have to wait for seven years to see the impact of the K to 12 Program through its first batch of graduates, the implementation of the new curriculum reminds us of the Filipino teachers’ unwavering commitment to their profession ensuring learning despite certain limitations and the parents’ concern for their children’s education.

In the end, it’s everyone working together for that same goal – a better quality of education for the succeeding batches of Filipino graduates.

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