rlll4 (1)By Rossana L. Llenado

Among students and parents, the hottest topic today is the country’s shift to the Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K to 12) program.

Signed into law by President Aquino in 2013, the K to 12 Basic Education Curriculum requires all students to take one year of Kindergarten, six years of elementary school (Grades 1 to 6), four years of junior high school (Grades 7 to 10) and two years of senior high school (Grades 11 to 12).

Not surprisingly, the shift was met with mixed reactions.

Some quarters have welcomed it, saying it signaled the government’s commitment to provide its citizens with a globally competitive education.

Under the old 10-year Basic Education Curriculum, most of our students, even those who had gone through four years of higher education to obtain their degrees, were not recognized as college graduates abroad because they were two years short of the total 16 years of education required internationally. Exceptions were graduates of such universities as Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, and the University of the Philippines, but in some instances they, too, lost scholarships or had to take more units of study because of our outmoded education system.

K to 12 is what our education system needs at this time in our history. The global community has finally acknowledged the strength of our economy and the quality of our labor force. One way of sustaining that upward trajectory is by making sure that the youth are learning at par with the rest of the world.

However, some sectors see the additional two years of schooling as a burden that aggravates their already precarious financial situation. It is a valid concern.

Tutorial and review centers like AHEAD, for instance, had a significant drop in business last year because most students had to attend the bridging programs developed by their schools. The enrollment will be even lower this year and worse in the next two years when we will have no students at all.

But we are still better off than most colleges and universities. After two years, we may again have a continuous supply of students.

While tertiary institutions may have first year students by then, they will not have second and third year students. And when their students advance to second year, they will not have third year students.

Some universities worry that if they open freshman classes this year or the next, they may not have enough income to cover operational costs.

So, yes, we are suffering—all of us who are in the education industry. But despite our current situation, we still believe that the time is now for the K to 12 implementation.

As soon as the Department of Education (DepEd) announced the country’s shift to the K to 12 system, we saw the chaos and confusion that such a monumental change was going to bring. So we asked ourselves: What can we do to help?

In response, we organized a two-day conference in January 2012 through our Leadership Strategies for School Managers, which is a complete training program for school administrators, principals and academic supervisors.

The conference, “Preparing, Developing and Equipping K to 12 School Leaders: Academic Enhancement and Transition Management,” was an engaging meeting of the minds.

Our speakers included Isagani Cruz, former undersecretary of education and governor of the National Book Development Board; Dr. Cornelia Soto, chair of Ateneo’s Department of Education; and Dr. Paraluman Giron, chair of the Technical Working Group on Curriculum, as well as several DepEd undersecretaries.

At first, despite the information and insights provided, the principals had many reservations about making the shift to the new system. But, as the conference continued, they started to see the numerous benefits of the proposed curriculum. By the second day, they were all agreed that K to 12 was going to bring our students and our country a world of good.

The K to 12 curriculum will give students the time and the resources to gain mastery of core subjects such as Mathematics, Science, and Language. This will make them more confident in their academic skills.

As the new curriculum is learner-centered, students can pursue their choice of electives and specializations. They will have enough time to participate in co-curricular activities fit for their skills and their interests.

The K to 12 system will also allow parents to save on college tuition. Since Grades 11 and 12 are technically college-level education, students may spend less time in university. In fact, after Grade 12, students may opt to work after having obtained Certificates of Competency or National Certificates from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). If they choose the entrepreneurial track, they may be able to put up their own businesses.

Although our conference drew 200 principals from all over the country, that number is just a drop in the bucket. Today, many principals still do not fully appreciate the nuances of K to 12 and many teachers are still in the dark about the changes required.

DepEd has been working double-time to ensure a smooth transition to the new system. There are obstacles but this is just par for the course in the face of any significant and encompassing change.

Are we ready for K to 12? Ready or not, we have no choice but to bite the bullet. It is time to move Philippine education on to the global future. The time to take a stand for our children’s future is now.

AHEAD Tutorial & Review Center President Rossana L. Llenado shares her insights on K to 12 at inquirer.net. Click the link to see the original post: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/697019/we-have-to-bite-the-bullet

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