Overhaul K-12 – ACT Philippines

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As the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture tackles today the ‘long overdue’ review of the K to 12 program, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines issued its urgent call for the government to completely overhaul  the Philippine education system towards a “nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented education.”  

The group said that since their long time call for a thorough evaluation of K to 12 has finally been granted, the government shall take bold measures to correct the “problematic program,” which will entail a “complete overhaul” in the service of national interests.

“The key issue with the K to 12 program lies in its core objective, which aims to produce graduates who are immediately ready to work as semi-skilled and cheap laborers here and abroad. The program exploits the majority of impoverished Filipinos for the gain of foreign capital, foregoing the objective of honing the country’s human resource to serve the purpose of national industrialization and development,” said ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio, in a statement.  

Basilio also hit the curriculum’s removal and weakening of integral subjects for the development of nationalism and core values among the youth. ACT cited the removal of Philippine History in high school, the shortening and simplistic presentation of Araling Panlipunan, the faulty implementation of the mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE), and the conservative and individualistic approach to Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (EsP).

“These are clear manifestations of the neoliberal and colonial character of K to 12. It retards instead of advances the process of molding patriotic youths whose aspirations are interlinked with that of the entire nation and who shall later contribute to national development,” lambasted Basilio.

Further exemplification of the problematic program, said ACT, can be seen in the curriculum’s emphasis on producing “outputs” at the expense of the development of higher-level literacy, critical thought, and scientific approach in problem solving. The group cited that not only was time allocation for each subject shortened but an even smaller portion is dedicated to discussion, while the bigger share of time goes to activities supposedly meant to exhibit students multiple forms of intelligence.

Add to that the spiral progression approach of the K to 12 curriculum, which ACT claimed “messed up and fragmented”  students’ education.

“In the old curriculum, an entire school year is dedicated for the learning and mastery of different subjects, which progresses into more complex and advanced levels as students likewise proceed to higher levels of schooling. The new curriculum, however, integrates a little of everything without honing mastery, then immediately moves on to the next field, all within a single school year. Students will then go through the same cycle of subjects and fields but with more complex contents in the following year,” lamented Basilio.  

ACT cited the results of the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the National Achievement Test (NAT), and the Philippine Informal Reading Inventory (Phil-IRI) as proof of the further decline of education quality under the K to 12 program.

“These are enough causes for alarm to reorient and overhaul the program, not to mention the grave injustice and dire consequences of the dismal state of education to one whole generation of Filipino youth and to our country. What we need is an education based on Philippine context and one that responds to the requisites of national development. Hence, we urge the government to maximize the ongoing review and finally take the necessary measures to establish an education system that follows its constitutional mandate of contributing to national development, instilling patriotism and nationalism, and espousing total human liberation,” said Basilio.

The House of Representatives conducted its first ever review of the K-12 program four years after its implementation.

The committee meeting heard pressing issues concerning the implementation of the K-12 including the most salient points particularly (1) inclusion of the ‘Mother Tongue’ in the curriculum, (2) urgent concerns on the availability (or lack thereof) and quality of textbooks being used in schools, (3) the observed neglect of DepEd in providing a holistic academic approach for the deaf community and; (4) the current condition, grievances, and demands of the K-12 students under the imposed curriculum.

During the meeting, DepEd failed to present its comprehensive review and evaluation of the K-12 program. Matters concerning the competency of K-12 students and graduates tagged as “job-ready” was also not supported. Sentiments from the Filipino Sign Language for the Filipino Deaf concerning the neglect of DepEd in approving the budget for the learning of the deaf community was also registered during the session.

However, the 5-hour meeting was cut due to ‘lack of time’;  the youth and student representatives NUSP and Rise for Education then, which are part of the major stakeholders of the academic situation under the K-12 program, were not given a chance to present their position over the matter. Therefore, the committee is set to reconvene next week to continue the discussion.

Kabataan Partylist, together with various sectoral and youth formations League of Filipino Students, National Union of Students of the Philippines and student leaders from UP, UST, and ADMU, expressed dismay over the neglect of the Department of Education to provide a synthesized document of the nationwide K-12 review addressing the conflicts in curriculum changes, bridging programs, and the overall welfare of Senior High School students — despite the program being institutionalized nearly 4 years ago.

“Hence, if the pilot institutions DepEd and CHED will not hustle to publicize the nationwide assessment of the implementation of the K-12 program, this youth representation together with the students, student councils and organizations, and national youth formations stand to take on the responsibility,” said the Kabataan Party-list.

“It’s time we call for a nationwide independent public review of the K-12 program, inducting from individual student sentiments and collective experiences of the youth and the parents, to present a concrete, science-backed documentation of the accomplishments and aftermaths of the said program,” they also said./Stacy Ang

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