By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday called for a review of the country’s K to 12 basic education program amid the declining performance of students after its implementation.
“We have to review the K to 12 curriculum. We have to review rin kung yong tinuturo sa tech-voc sa ating K to 12 ay yung kailangan ng mga industriya (also if the technical-vocational lessons in our K to 12 program responds to the needs of the industries),” Gatchalian said as he presided over the Senate education subcommittee’s inquiry on the current state of the Philippine education system Wednesday afternoon.
During the hearing, Gatchalian raised doubts on the effectiveness and quality of the country’s K to 12 education program citing Department of Eucation (DepEd) figures showing the “low proficient” Grade 6 and Grade 10 students from 2016 to 2017.
“Honestly, ang over-all assessment ay hindi maganda dahil ang National Achievement Tests (NAT) natin ay naglalaro sa 40 percent lang for Grade 6 and Grade 10 at nakita pababa siya ng pababa so this is quite alarming,” Gatchalian said, noting that proficiency rates in the previous years were about 60 percent. (The over-all assessment is that we have poor quality education because our NAT results only hover around 40 percent both for Grade 6 and Grade 10, and we saw that the figures are declining, so this is quite alarming.)
Aside from the low proficiency rates of K to 12 students, Gatchalian also observed a “misalignment” between the program and the demands of industries for their employment.
He cited JobStreet Philippines’s 2018 Fresh Graduates Report that showed only 24 percent of employers in its website are willing to hire senior high school graduates, while 35 percent are not ready to hire K-12 graduates.
The report showed that 41 percent are still undecided whether or not to accept K to 12 graduates.
Government qualifications, particularly those imposed by the Civil Service Commission (CSC), remained unchanged despite the implementation of the K to 12 program, Gatchalian added.
He also noted that the DepEd’s K to 12 curriculum does not match that of the Commission on Higher Education.
“Dahil yong curriculum ngayon na kailangan sa K to 12 hindi naman tinuturo sa kolehiyo,” he explained.
Gatchalian, however, said he could not blame the DepEd which he believed is still adjusting to the “massive” K to 12 program but said it is accountable for the performance of students.
He also stressed the importance of discussing and addressing such problem due to its possible “impacts on future generations,” specifically the quality of the country’s labor force.
Both the government and private sectors, he added, should make adjustments on its requirements and adopt the K to 12 program.
DepEd Assistant Secretary Alma Rubitorio, at the hearing, said the agency recognizes that there are still “a lot of things to do” to enhance the K to 12 program. Rubitorio also appealed for support from other stakeholders to improve the program.
The K to 12 program covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education: six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School.
It was launched and initially implemented in 2012. In May 2013, former President Benigno C. Aquino III signed Republic Act 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act.