By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
A federation of teachers on Thursday urged the government – particularly the Department of Education (DepEd) – to reorient the Philippine education system by taking bold measures to correct the “problematic” K –to-12 Program.
As the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture tackled the review of the K to 12 program, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines said that the “long overdue” review should focus on reorienting the education system towards a “nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented education.”
ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said that the key issue with the K to 12 program “lies in its core objective, which aims to produce graduates who are immediately ready to work as semi-skilled and cheap laborers here and abroad.” The program, he added, “exploits the majority of impoverished Filipinos for the gain of foreign capital, foregoing the objective of honing the country’s human resource to serve the purpose of national industrialization and development.”
With its long time call for a thorough evaluation of K to 12 finally been granted, ACT said that government should take bold measures to correct the “problematic program” which will entail a “complete overhaul” in the service of national interests.
K to 12 ‘flaws’
Even before it was fully implemented, ACT has already warned of the several “flaws” of the K to 12 program.
For instance, Basilio noted the curriculum’s “removal and weakening of integral subjects for the development of nationalism and core values among the youth” such as the removal of Philippine History in high school, the shortening and simplistic presentation of Araling Panlipunan, the faulty implementation of the mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE), and the conservative and individualistic approach to Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (EsP).
“These are clear manifestations of the neoliberal and colonial character of K to 12,” Basilio noted. “It retards instead of advances the process of molding patriotic youths whose aspirations are interlinked with that of the entire nation and who shall later contribute to national development,” he added.
What makes the K to 12 even more problematic, ACT said, is the “curriculum’s emphasis on producing ‘outputs’ at the expense of the development of higher-level literacy, critical thought, and scientific approach in problem solving.” The group also noted that “not only was time allocation for each subject shortened but an even smaller portion is dedicated to discussion, while the bigger share of time goes to activities supposedly meant to exhibit students multiple forms of intelligence.”
Basilio said that the K to 12 curriculum was implemented alongside an “array of policies for teachers which included a very strict budget of work in our congested daily lesson logs.” He added that “little focus is given to the thorough digestion of lessons as both students and teachers are pressured to produce multitude of outputs on a daily basis – such follows the neoliberal framework of efficient production in which output is generated at record time for maximum profit.”
The spiral progression approach of the K to 12 curriculum, ACT claimed, also “messed up and fragmented” students’ education. “In the old curriculum, an entire school year is dedicated for the learning and mastery of different subjects, which progresses into more complex and advanced levels as students likewise proceed to higher levels of schooling [but] the new curriculum, however, integrates a little of everything without honing mastery, then immediately moves on to the next field, all within a single school year,” Basilio said. He added that students “will then go through the same cycle of subjects and fields but with more complex contents in the following year.”
On top of the “haphazard” implementation of K to 12, ACT also slammed the government’s “failure to provide the budgetary, logistical, and administrative requirements of the program, which led to a host of other serious problems such as the worsened shortages in learning resources, the perennial problem of insufficient classrooms, wanting training for teachers, lacking education support personnel at the school level, among others.” All these, the group said, “created a substandard quality of education, which is mostly made up for by overworked and underpaid public school teachers.”
Citing the results of the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the National Achievement Test (NAT), and the Philippine Informal Reading Inventory (Phil-IRI), ACT noted the “further decline of education quality” under the K to 12 program.
“These are enough causes for alarm to reorient and overhaul the program, not to mention the grave injustice and dire consequences of the dismal state of education to one whole generation of Filipino youth and to our country,” Basilio said. “What we need is an education based on Philippine context and one that responds to the requisites of national development,” he added.
To achieve these, Basilio urged the government to “maximize the ongoing review and finally take the necessary measures to establish an education system that follows its constitutional mandate of contributing to national development, instilling patriotism and nationalism, and espousing total human liberation.”