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K TO 12 CURRICULUM:

CURRENT TRENDS AND ISSUES IN EDUCATION

A Research Paper Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree

Master of Arts in Education Management

Susana G. Ramirez

La Consolacion University Philippines

September 2017
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Introduction

“Naninindigan pa rin po tayo sa ipinangako nating pagbabago sa edukasyon:

ang gawin itong sentral na estratehiya sa pamumuhunan sa pinakamahalaga nating

yaman: ang mamamayang Pilipino. Sa K to 12, tiwala tayong mabibigyang-lakas si Juan

dela Cruz upang mapaunlad—hindi lamang ang kanyang sarili at pamilya—kundi

maging ang buong bansa.” – Pangulong Benigno S. Aquino III

The educational curriculum in the Philippines is low compared to other countries.

Other countries are able to learn more advanced subjects and they are able to learn them

properly. The reason why other countries are ahead of us in the educational aspect is

because of the K12. K12 is a prolonged educational program that allows the students to

learn more advanced subjects. Adding K12 to the curriculum will enhance the education

of the country because schools will not need to quicken the learning process of the

students, will learn more advanced subjects and will provide greater employment options.

This essay will tackle the impact of changing the curriculum to K12. This essay will

show why the Philippines is in need of a better curriculum. This essay will also discuss

how K12 will affect the learning capabilities of the students, will tackle the advantages of

K12 and the effects of it to the students and to the country.

Naturally, the known definition of K12 is a 13-year educational program from

kindergarten until high school. Recently, it has been proposed to be used. By changing

our curriculum, students will surely have a higher standard of education. DepEd proposed

this program to enhance the learning capabilities of the students.


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K12 provides students, as well as the country, many privileges with more time for

students to study and understand their lessons; they will be able to do better in their

exams. The students will be able to attain better education that will give them more job

opportunities. Another reason why the Philippines has one of the lowest qualities of

education in the world is because students are not given the right amount of time to

understand their lessons. This change in our education will provide the country with a

better economy. It only takes us 11-12 years to graduate from high school. K12 provides

us with an extra year for teachers to teach more advanced subjects that students will take

up only when they are in college. This will shorten the time of students' stay in college.

Surely without K12, the quality of education in the Philippines is low. Even other

countries with low economy in Asia have better quality of education than the Philippines.

Some high school graduates do not have what it takes in working for an international

kind of work. Without this kind of quality education, Filipinos will not be able to

compete with a high-end job abroad. K12 will give the Philippines a chance to be a better

country by starting with changing our curriculum.

Almost all of the countries in the world are having k12 as their basic education

program. As a result, all of them have better education that we, Filipinos, might not have

been able to acquire if the proposal that was not made by the DepEd. In fact, the

Philippines was ranked one of the lowest in education last year.

Students need time for them to properly understand a lesson. K12 provides

students to have more time understanding the lessons, not just cramming them for a latter
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exam and forgetting them when the exams are over. K12 gives them a chance to learn

more, to enjoy learning in a calm and enjoyable manner, and understand them better.

Students will be able to do a better job in their exams and will be able to attain a better

education if they understand the lessons taught. In other countries, they have an extended

year for the students to study and learn. Here in the Philippines, students are forced to

cram for a test because of the less time given to education here.

K12 does not only provide time for students to study. It also offers more subjects

in which students can take during their high school years. In other countries, they study

calculus and other advance subjects in their high school years, giving them lesser time in

college. They need not quicken their learning paces because they have the time to follow

the pace they currently have. Here in the Philippines, high schools are only given a short

amount of time that's why they can't put any of the advanced subjects. Because of K12,

students in the Philippines will have a better education.

The United States (US) and the Philippines both have proper education for their

students, but US provides greater employment options because of their K12 while the

Philippines does not have great employment options due to the lack of knowledge given

in the high schools. They both have the "just right" standard of education for their

students.

US, with K12 in their curriculum, provide better education, thus providing better

employment options. Studying requires time for students to completely understand what

they need to learn. Better education is attained by them because of the prolonged time of
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studying. They are able to understand and execute what they have learned properly in the

business world. The students afterwards are able to get better employment options

because they have studied well. US have better colleges than the best university in the

Philippines. They are able to mold their future leaders properly. Being able to study in a

prestigious university in US, students have the opportunity to be accepted by any

corporation or firm in the world.

The Philippines on the other hand has a lower education compared to US. We are

even one of the lowest in Asia. Filipinos, who are going abroad for work, are most likely

to land on a low-end job because of the low quality of education. OFWs are most likely

to be caretakers or janitors abroad. (Other countries offer low employment options for

Filipinos because the standard of education in the Philippines is low compared to the

others.) They take employees from US or other countries that have a high education who

are fit for the job. Only 25% of Filipinos get a high-end job abroad when they are against

Americans.

From what has been discussed in the earlier paragraphs, the Philippines, as well as

the citizens will have a better education and a better future by adding K12 to the

educational curriculum. Students will lead our future. With a better quality of education,

students will be able to obtain this kind of future. The economy of the Philippines will

rise as our labor force attains better education. With this kind of educational curriculum,

students will be able to understand their lessons well and will be able to execute what

they have learned properly. K12 will be of good use to the students and it might bring

forth a new beginning for the country.


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Body

The K to 12 Program covers Kindergarten and 12 years of Basic Education [Six

(6) years of primary education, Four (4) years of Junior High School, and Two (2) years

of Senior High School (SHS)] to provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and

skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-

level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship.

The K to 12 Basic Education Program is the flagship program of the Department

of Education in its desire to offer a curriculum which is attuned to the 21st century. This

is in pursuance of the reform thrusts of the Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda, a

package of policy reforms that seeks to systematically improve critical regulatory,

institutional, structural, financial, cultural, physical and informational conditions

affecting basic education provision, access and delivery on the ground. The Department

seeks to create a basic education sector that is capable of attaining the country’s

Education for All Objectives and the Millennium Development Goals by the year 2015.

These policy reforms are expected to introduce critical changes necessary to further

accelerate, broaden, deepen and sustain the Department’s effort in improving the quality

of basic education.

In a study conducted SEAMEO INNOTECH about the K to 12 Implementation is

a response to trade liberalization, the growing global market, international agreements

such as the Bologna and Washington Accords have kept countries focused on the
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comparability of educational degrees. Filipino graduates need to develop a competitive

advantage over others in the ASEAN region and in the world. Unfortunately, the ten-year

basic education system handicaps overseas Filipino professionals competing in the world

market. The Bologna Process requires 12 years of education for university admission and

practice of profession in European countries. On account of the Bologna Accord, starting

2010, undergraduate degrees in the Philippines are no longer recognized in most

European countries. The Washington Accord prescribes a minimum of 12 years of basic

education as an entry to recognition of engineering professionals. Obviously, the short

basic education cycle is a deterrent in pursuing recent initiatives like the APEC and

ASEAN mutual recognition projects. APEC or Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation is an

international forum of 21 member economies that acts collectively to advance their

common interests. APEC is committed to a policy of reducing barriers to trade and of

being a vehicle for promoting economic cooperation within the Asia- Pacific Region.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution puts special premium on education and accords

it with the highest budgetary priority. Article XIV, Section 1, in particular, explicitly

provides: “The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality

education at all levels.” Article XIV, Section 5. Clearly mandates the State to “assign the

highest budgetary priority for education.” However, despite these constitutional

guarantees, current performance indicators showed a dismal picture of the quality of

education in the country. Participation rates have worsened, dropout rates remain high

and the Philippines continues to perform poorly in both national and international

assessment tests.
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According to the Department of Education (DepEd), the congested curriculum is

partly to blame for this bleak situation. The DepEd claimed that forcing in 10 years a

curriculum that is learned by the rest of the world in 12 years has been quite a challenge

for both Filipino teachers and students. The Philippines is now the only country in Asia

that has a 10-year basic education cycle and one of the three remaining countries in the

world, together with Djibouti and Angola of Africa that retains a 10-year pre-university

education system.

As a response to this issue, the DepEd is pushing for the passage of a law that will

implement the so-called K to 12 program, which will institutionalize pre-school and add

two more years of high school in the country’s basic education cycle. However, in light of

the tight fiscal situation and the mounting demands coming from all other sectors, the

increasing cost of living and the additional burden that this measure will entail

particularly for households, it is important to determine whether K to 12 is a viable and

critical program that needs to be pursued.

The State of Philippine Education

Despite efforts by the government to make basic education accessible to all, lack

of access to quality education remains a major policy concern. The Philippines, a

signatory to the Millennium Declaration, has committed to achieve the goal of 100

percent net enrollment rate by 2015. However, there is a low probability that this target

will be met given the current trend.


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Net elementary participation rates2 have even declined from 90.1 percent in 2002

to 88.1 percent in 2010. Fewer children of school age proceed to high school and an even

smaller number pursue college education.

Access to education is also unequal, with the poor having significantly lower

participation rates than the non-poor. In 2007, the non-poor had an elementary

participation rate of 91.8 percent, while for the poor, it was only 85.9 percent. The

disparity worsened in the secondary level when the participation rate of the poor dived to

51.4 percent as against the non-poor’s 76.5 percent. Looking at the gender dimension,

boys have lower participation rates than girls in all year levels.

Table 1. Net

Participation Rates, by Level, by Gender and by Poverty Status, 2007 (in %)

Source: Manasan (2011)

Efficiency is likewise a problem as manifested in the still high, albeit declining

dropout or school leaver rates. Majority of school leavers also come from the poor and

male groups.

Table 2. School Leavers as a Percentage of All Children in a Given Age Cohort, 2007

(in %)
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Source: Manasan (2011)

Net elementary participation rate is defined as the portion of the number of

enrollees 7-12/6-11 years old to population 7-12/6-11 years old.

Results of the 2008 Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey

(FLEMMS) showed that out-of-school youth with ages 6 to 15 years old do not attend

school mainly because: (1) they lack personal interest (35.0%), (2) they find the cost of

education high (18.7%), and (3) they consider themselves too young to go to school

(16.2%). It should be noted that as the age cohort gets older (16 to 24 years old), the need

to look for work and the high cost of education become the major factors for not going to

school.

Table 3. Reasons for Not Attending School


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The poor quality of education is also reflected in the country’s low scores in

national assessment tests. Although mean percentage scores (MPS) in the National

Achievement Test (NAT) have generally improved in MPS indicates the percentage or the

ratio between the number of correctly answered items and the total number of test

questions.

The NAT is an annual examination administered to public and private school

students throughout the country to determine their achievement level, strengths and

weaknesses in key subject areas.

The elementary level, they have remained low, with students answering only 68

percent of the test items correctly in SY 2009-2010. Secondary level students performed

worse as they only answered 46 percent of the test items correctly during the same

period. An MPS of 75 percent is considered the passing mark.

In international tests such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science

Study (TIMMS), the Philippines is among the worst participating countries. Out of 25

participating countries, the Philippines ranked 23rd in TIMMS’ Math and Science in 2003.

In 2008 TIMMS, even the science high schools that are recognized to be the best and the

brightest in the country fared badly in Advanced Mathematics.


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The K to 12 Program

The Philippine educational system is patterned after the American model, which

includes seven years of elementary school. In an attempt to control the costs due to a

rapid increase in school enrollment during that time, the Education Act of 1940 did away

with Grade 7.

In 2004, in another attempt to extend the basic education cycle, the High School

Bridge Program, a one-year remedial program for underperforming first-year high school

students, was proposed.5 However, it met strong opposition from students who will have

to stay longer in school and their parents who will have to shoulder the extra expenses of

another school year.

The High School Bridge Program is intended for students who do not meet the

cut-off score in the High School Readiness Test administered by the DepEd. It focuses on

three subjects: English, Mathematics and Science.

Bowing to public pressure, the DepEd offered it then as an optional program.

K to 12 program is the latest effort of the government to elevate the educational

system to the global 12-year standard. K to 12 means one year of kindergarten and 12

years of elementary and secondary education. It was one of President Noynoy Aquino’s

campaign promises and as such, was included in the priority list of bills of the

Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).

Why is K to 12 needed?
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1. To decongest the curriculum. According to the DepEd, while the K to 12 is not the

solution to all the ills of the Philippine educational system, it will address one of its

main weaknesses—the congested curriculum.


The DepEd explained that the students are hard-pressed to learn in 10 years a

curriculum that is actually designed for 12 years in other countries. Hence, Filipino

students are not able to achieve comprehension and mastery, particularly of core

subjects. Perhaps the most damning proof of this is the result of the 2008 FLEMMS,

which revealed that 19 percent of elementary graduates are not functionally literate

(Action for Economic Reforms and E-NET, 2008). Functional literacy means a

person can read, write, compute and comprehend.


The DepEd claimed that with K to 12, students will not have to rush through the

lessons anymore. It will also do away with unnecessary topics in the curriculum so

that students will develop competencies and acquire life skills that will make them

productive members of the society.


2. To prepare the students for higher education. From the DepEd’s assessment,

secondary graduates of the current system are not adequately prepared for college.

They pointed out that this is why most of the courses, the so-called General

Education subjects, taken by first year college students are actually remedial as they

should have already been mastered in high school. With K to 12, students will be

better prepared as introductory courses that are currently taught at the tertiary level

will be included in the high school curriculum.


3. To prepare the students for the labor market. According to the DepEd, with the 10-

year basic education cycle, students usually graduate from high school below 18

years old, too young to legally join the labor force or put up a business that will
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entail them to enter into contracts. In addition, because they have not mastered the

necessary competencies, graduates of the current system often lack skills and hence,

are vulnerable to exploitative labor practices. The DepEd claimed that K to 12 will

empower them to confidently join the labor market as by the time they graduate they

are already of legal age and equipped with sufficient skills.


4. To comply with the global standards. At present, graduates who wish to work abroad

are at a disadvantage because they are not automatically recognized as professionals

while students who apply for post-graduate studies often have to enrol in or take

remedial courses to meet the entrance requirements of the foreign country. For

instance, the Washington Accord signed in 1989 prescribes 12 years of basic

education as a requirement for the recognition of engineering professionals.

Likewise, the Bologna Accord of 1999 requires 12 years of education for university

admission and practice of profession in European countries.

Conclusion

Inarguably, the system of basic education in the country is in dire need of

resuscitation. The main question though is whether increasing the number of years of

schooling as proposed by the K to 12 program could lead to improvements in quality or

just exacerbate the present situation.

The proposal to make kindergarten mandatory and institutionalize it as part of the

basic education cycle is not as contentious as the additional two years in high school as

there is a universal acceptance of the importance of pre-school in improving the quality


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and efficiency of education. Various studies have indicated that quality Early Childhood

Care and Development (ECCD) is associated with better cognitive and social skills

development. Students who have undergone ECCD tend to stay in school longer and

learn more. In fact, informal pre-school programs that operate with inadequate resources

and facilities, and are saddled with unfavorable class sizes still manage to produce

positive results in students (EFA GMR, 2005). A formal and institutionalized pre-school

program with trained pre-school teachers is thus expected to produce more gains. In

contrast, researches have mixed findings on lengthening the basic education cycle.

Critics have raised a real and valid concern that adding two more years of senior

high would not only strain the government’s resources but also contribute additional

burden to households. With the increasing cost of living, and the budget, particularly of

the poor, already stretched to the limit, K to 12 is a rather ambitious and expensive

program, especially when it does not guarantee favorable results. On the other hand, there

is also merit in the argument that the current curriculum needs decongesting and that the

country needs to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of the length of basic

education cycle. Nearly all countries have complied with the 12-year global standard and

the Philippines is one of the last holdouts. If less-developed and poorer countries can

commit to providing a longer basic education cycle, why can’t the Philippines?

What is clear is that lengthening the basic education cycle alone could be useless

on its own without corresponding improvements on other educational inputs. According

to the 2005 EFA GMR, aside from the presence of ECCD programs, enabling inputs are

critical determinants of quality. Teachers who are considered to be the most important
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enabling inputs need to have better pre-service and regular in-service teacher trainings.

This can also mean increasing the qualifications for teachers and instituting a merit-based

system along with increasing salaries to attract the best and the brightest. Likewise, other

inputs like classrooms, textbooks, libraries and other school infrastructure need to be

sufficiently provided. A better system of testing that focuses on skills and competencies

to properly gauge outcomes is also essential.

Ultimately, the government’s ability to secure resources to implement the K to 12

program and at the same time address the unresolved shortages in educational inputs will

determine the country’s quality of education in the future. As wisely stated in the

Philippine EFA plan, “Good education is expensive but lack of education costs many

times more.”

Recommendation

Agencies, foundations, and professional engineering societies with an interest in

improving precollege engineering education should fund a consensus process to develop

a document describing the core ideas—concepts, skills, and dispositions—of engineering

that are appropriate for K–12 students. The process should incorporate feedback from a

wide range of stakeholders. Work should begin as soon as possible, and the findings

should be shared with key audiences, including developers of new or revised standards in

science, mathematics, engineering, and technology at the national and state levels.

The Department of Education, Department of Science and Technology,

Department of Energy, and other agencies with interest in engineering research and

education should fund the development of guidelines for K–12 engineering instructional
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materials. Development should be overseen by an organization with expertise in K–12

education policy in concert with the engineering community. Other partners should

include mathematics, science, technology education, social studies, and English-

language-arts teacher professional societies; curriculum development and teacher

professional development experts; and organizations representing informal and after-

school education. Funding should be sufficient for an initial, intense development effort

that lasts for one year or less, and additional support should be provided for periodic

revisions as more research data become available about learning and teaching

engineering on the K–12 level.

The researcher suggests that the guidelines be made available online and

periodically revised as data become available on the impact of engineering education on

student learning in engineering as well as in science, mathematics, and technology;

improvements in technological literacy; awareness and interest in engineering as a career

option; and how students develop design ideas and practices over time.

Because guidelines would not have the same standing as standards, teachers,

developers of instructional materials, and others may not follow them unless they are

required to do so by funding agencies, state law, or local policy. In addition, if guidelines

are, or are perceived to be, leading to a silo approach to K–12 engineering education, they

could arouse resistance to the integration of engineering material and ideas into

mathematics, science, and technology education.


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References

Batomalaque, Antonio. Basic Science Development Program of the Philippines for

International Cooperation. University of San Carlos.; Marinas, Bella and Ditapat,

Maria. Philippines: Curriculum and Development. UNESCO International Bureau

of Education

International Engineering Alliance. The Washington Accord.

http://www.washingtonaccord.org/Washington-Accord/FAQ.cfm (Accessed 22

September 2017)

Mullis, I.V.S., Martin, M.O., Robitaille, D.F., & Foy, P. (2009). Chestnut Hill, MA.Trends

in International Mathematics and Science Advanced 2008.


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National center for Education Statistics. Highlights from the Trends in International

Mathematics and Science Study 2003.December 2004

Presentation notes of Dr. Isagani Cruz, 28 September 2010.

SEAMEO-INNOTECH. Additional Years in Philippine Basic Education: Rationale and

Legal Bases. Presentation to the Department of Education on 25 August 2010.

The K to 12 BASIC EDUCATION PROGRAM, Department of Education (DepEd), (as

of March 12, 2012)