Bitter Bites of K to 12

Bitter Bites of K to 12
by Jenelyn Amestoso-Cid

                 Five and fighting!

    The K to 12 Program of the Department of Education has been around for five years since its implementation in 2010. Yes, five years has passed yet we still debate whether K to 12 is a help or harm, bitter or better, and go or no.  We still talk of it like bread out of the oven, fresh and warm. Up until now, we still share the same worries and fears.
           Last May 9, 2015, thousands of people gathered around Liwasang Bonifacio and rallied for the suspension of RA 10533 otherwise known as K to 12 Law. The call against K to 12 was led by Sen. Antonio F. Trillanes IV. They laid out, one after one, bad and bitter bits of the K to 12. They argued that Philippines is not ready for that one giant step. Their concerns include lack of classrooms, shortage of teachers, loss of jobs for those teaching in college, and more expenses for the added two years in high school.  
           At some point, they may have a good score. The new program entails gigantic preparation. We can’t just sit around and play safe. We want to be sure than sorry. It needs further and stronger study. Better yet, get everyone involved in a survey. This big change doesn’t and shouldn’t happen overnight. It needs more time. If it was a piece of cake, it would come out half-baked.

           We can’t just close our eyes and play dead amidst these possible problems. Classrooms, if not out-of-number, are out-of-order. Students and teachers struggle in make-shift classrooms. Some even hold classes in the gymnasium. More than 60 students crowd themselves inside a small classroom. We even need more books, manuals, and materials, especially that pupils in primary education use their native tongue as medium of instruction due to the MTB-MLE (Mother-Tongue Based Multi-Lingual Education) which is a major part of K to 12. Add to that, teachers need to undergo seminars and trainings to orient them of the new methods, policy, and grading system. The program is in need of thousand more teachers particularly for the classes required for junior and senior high schools. Even prior to the implementation of the said program, the country is in dire want for teachers, which the government can hardly cope with.

            Two of the strongest points against the program are unemployment of teachers and employees in universities and colleges, and the two more years which parents and most students consider a burden. One more year and the pioneers of the new curriculum will have entered Senior High School. It is during this initial stage when enrollment to colleges and universities shall drop for two school years. This will mean massive unemployment of college instructors, employees, and staff. What will these workers do? Where will they go?

            Next year, Senior High School shall start operating. Questions are coming up like pop corns or mushrooms from nowhere. Are the institutions ready? Will there be enough schools to cater to the first batch of SHS students? What courses or skills are available? These are the possible queries of students. But the big burden for parents is, “how much?” Sending your child for additional two years to school when he or she must either be working or going to college indeed feels like the world is on your shoulders. This would entail additional budget from the parent’s pocket for daily allowance, fare, food, etc.

To all these doubts and dangers attacking the program, Deped Secretary Armin Luistro remains otherwise confident and optimistic of its positive performance. He prides himself of the achievement of the program in a span of five years despite countless challenges.

“On this 5th year of K to 12 implementation, we are running a marathon and I can already see the finish line. We are on our last mile,” Luistro said.
From 2010 to 2014, DepEd has hired 128,055 new teachers and built 88,805 classrooms. About 1.2M to 1.6M students from public high schools are expected to enter Grade 11 in 2016 and 2017. Of the 7,914 public high schools, DepEd identified 5,020 as potential Senior High Schools that are expected to accommodate 1.6M to 2.2M students. The remaining 800k to 1M students are expected to go to non-DepEd providers such as private high schools, private HEIs, SUCs and LUCs offering Senior High School. As of March, there are 1,116 private schools that applied for SHS permits for SY 2016. Answering to claims about unemployed teachers, Luistro assured that 30,000 to 41,000 high school teachers will be hired, and that priority will be given to the displaced college employees.

            It’s a good thing though that DepEd has been pushing limits for the program. At least the facts and figures would calm our fears. But let’s just see about that. The battle has begun but it’s not over yet. It’s too soon to celebrate victory because here’s another thing to worry.

            I can’t help but think if the K to 12 program will really be sustained. Will it be here to stay or it’s just a phase? Will it be just like ningas kugon, only good at the start? K to 12 is the flagship program of Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III. It was him who pushed for this change of curriculum. However, he has no more plan of running again for presidency in the 2016 elections thereby leaving us groping in the dark. This would simply mean a change of presidency and a change of policy. Who knows the upcoming president might introduce yet another educational advocacy? Truly, there’s nothing constant but change.

One more bitter bite?

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  1. You have countless of good points there. But I still commend DepEd for the efforts. I think, K to 12 is doing a great job so far. I just hope that the next president of the country won't try to stop the program, or else we'll be left with scratches again. :)


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