Young Roots

We’re not ready for K-12

Johanne R. Macob

By Johanne R. Macob

 

DURING our internship days, my three classmates and I took turns in writing for this column. I remember one of the column articles I wrote was about the K to 12 (K-12) program. I have always been irresolute about the program, noting the long-existing problems of the public education in this country. In that article, I said, why didn’t the Department of Education deal first with the issues of poor the quality of education? For instance, why not address the problems of not having enough books, not enough classrooms, not enough teaching instruments, and not enough teachers, I asked.

I didn’t question the benefits of the program they cited but I hoped the problems were fixed first. On the belief that graduates of K to 12 will already be legible for employment, perhaps they’re right. However, would employers prefer them over college graduates? If college grads are having difficulty finding fair and equitable jobs, what assurance can they give that there will be jobs ready for the K to 12 graduates?

I wrote all these in early 2012, when the government was only kicking off preparations for the K to 12 program.

Fast forward to more than four years later, the first batch of the senior high school (SHS) students have started attending their classes since last Monday. SHS is the major deliverable of the K to 12 program.

Sadly, based on the stories I have been hearing from many students and teachers themselves, some basic requirements for the successful implementation of the K to 12 were not met or are still underway. For one, a number of school buildings are still under construction. We know for a fact that many schools in the country still lack classrooms leaving schools with no choice but to have makeshift classrooms just to accommodate all students, while others schools use mats as chairs. And then there is the bulk of HS graduates who should’ve already embarked on their college journey but are still in their HS classrooms.

The continued serious lack of classrooms has led to two shifts in schedule of classes, with some students and teachers having to go to school in ‘irregular’ schedules. My niece’s first class is at 6:30a.m. and her last subject dismisses at 12:30 p.m.. No breaks. Seven subjects have to be compressed in a half-day shift. In addition to the students’ numerous complaints is the information overload they are being subjected to.

Another issue at hand is the, still, lack of teachers. I’ve heard some teacher-applicants, despite their dire need for jobs, have been declining job orders. Reason? They are being required to teach in towns away from their residences, or to handle SHS “mobile teaching,” or teach their subject in different schools that offer certain courses or tracks.

While I understand that new things need a period of adjustment but the issues raised were old basic requirements, not new. As I’ve said before, I know the program has good intentions but we see now that the implementation is problematic.

So after I wrote four years ago that the country was not yet ready to implement K to 12, and though I hate to say it, while the Philippines may need the K to 12 program it certainly is not ready to do it today. Once again, I pray that our government focuses on quality rather than on quantity.

(For your comments and reactions, please email to: punch.sunday@gmail.com)

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