By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Teachers, who are hailed as among the country’s outstanding educators, have asked that the K to 12 Program be given more time before any judgment could be passed over it.
As they weigh on the most recent and biggest education reform in the country, four teachers – who are among this year’s Search for Outstanding Filipinos by the Metrobank Foundation Inc. (MBFI) — shared their thoughts and initial assessment on the K to 12 Program implemented by the Department of Education (DepEd).
For Dr. Cristina Cristobal, a Special Science Teacher at the Philippine Science High School Main Campus in Quezon City, the ultimate gauge of the success of the K to 12 program is its impact on society. The K to 12 Program, she noted, has added two more years in the basic education cycle through the Senior High School (SHS) or Grades 11 and 12.
Initially, Cristobal noted that there were a “lot of apprehensions” on the K to 12 Program with some sectors insisting that the four years in high school were enough while others were criticizing the old basic education cycle claiming that the country “lacked” the needed years compared to other countries that offer the six-year high school program. “For some parents, the two more years are additional burden,” she said.
Despite all these, Cristobal noted that the K to 12 program needs to be given a chance to succeed. “Let’s give it a try and then assess its impact on our society,” she said. Cristobal is honored by MBFI for promoting Philippine history among her students through an approach that encourages hands-on experience with the use of primary sources.
Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco-de la Paz, from the College of Medicine of the University of the Philippines Manila, could not agree more noting that the education reform program needs more time to succeed. Implemented as early as 2010 through the implementation of the Universal Kindergarten before it became a law in 2013, she believes that there are many indicators to assess the status of the program.
“I think a good measure of it is really to look at how many of the students who graduated from the K to 12 program actually went into higher education – that means they went to a university and pursued an undergraduate course,” Cutiongco-de la Paz said. “Second is how many of them went into the workforce and how many contributed to the technical vocational skills that the country also needs,” she added.
Overall, Cutiongco-de la Paz noted the need for concerned agencies and other government departments to look into the program and evaluate it. “I think we need to give it time,” she said. “We are still experiencing the birthing pains and we need to give it a big chance to succeed,” she added. MBFI honored her for the prolific work on clinical genetics and shedding light on genetic disorders that she has been doing.
For Dr. Ricardo Jose, of College of Social Sciences and Philosophy from the University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City, the K to 12 Program is a much-needed reform for the Philippines to “catch up” with the rest of the world.
“It’s a little too early to fully gauge how successful it is,” Jose said. “I must say, though, that compared to other countries, our six years of elementary and four years of high school are really lacking,” he added. He is acclaimed for being the country’s foremost scholar on World War II in the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific. He mentioned that when he went to other countries for further studies, he had to take up tests to make up for the missing two years in the country’s basic education cycle.
For Dr. Dorothy Tarol, Master Teacher II, Special Education-Integrated School for Exceptional Children (SPED-ISEC) in Iloilo City, the K to 12 is a “big help” for the teachers and for the country’s goal of delivering quality education for all.
“It is a big help because before, there was no compulsory kindergarten but now, it is mandated so we have a stronger foundation for learners,” Tarol said. More than enhancing learners’ numeracy and literacy skills, she noted that the K to 12 Program is helping the schools produce well-rounded 21st century learners. “It really is a big help to our learners and teachers to ensure that no one will be left behind,” she added. She is cited for championing inclusive education, especially through her action research designed to enhance basic literacy skills of learners with hearing impairment.
Together with three soldiers and three police officers, the four outstanding teachers shall receive a cash prize of P1 million each, a golden medallion, and a trophy during the formal conferment ceremonies on September 4.
The Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipino is a career-service award for Filipino exemplars in the academe, military, and police sectors. This year, it steered by the theme, “Beyond Excellence,” and is granted to those who render service “above and beyond their call of duty.”
The accomplishments of the awardees must have inspired and influenced their peers – as well as the people in their respective communities – and their works must have “transformed a community with a lasting positive impact on people and the country.”
Read more: 4 teachers named Outstanding Filipinos