“Communicating hope and trust in our time.”

- Pope Francis

K to 12 is good if done well

SCHOOL year 2016-2017 ended with some frustrations. Well, at least for parents whose child or children were supposed to be in the honor roll. They complained why those who achieved the highest weighted rank were lumped into one category and called up to receive the academic award not by numerical rating but by the alphabetical sequencing of their family names.

The parents may be right—or wrong. The point, however, is they should have been informed by the school beforehand about the K to 12 awards and recognition guidelines. One parent reportedly was told by a teacher that they cannot do anything about it because the school was just following “orders from above.” The parent was saying this new awards system will destroy the child’s passion for excellence and competitiveness.

A cursory check with DepEd’s “Policy Guidelines on Awards and Recognition for the K to 12 Basic Education Program” tells differently. In its DO 36, s. 2016, it states: “These awards have been designed to formally recognize the outstanding performance and achievement of learners in academics, leadership, and social responsibility, among other aspects of student progress and development. These awards are given to encourage learners to strive for excellence and to become proactive members of the school and community.” Did the local school heads interpret the Department’s order differently or some parents just failed to grasp why their children did not make it to the top?

The concept of the K to 12 Program that covers 13 years of basic education is basically good. But 13 years is too long a burden for middle-class parents to be sending their children to basic education. It seems that even free education is merely palliative because while children are in school still parents spend for their sundry needs and, more importantly, they do not become available for the daily chores at home, which is a cultural Filipino value.

The Senior High School, which is Grades 11 and 12, should be commendable in the sense that, in concept, students are supposed to go through a core curriculum and subjects track of their choice. The tracks are supposed to equip them ready for employment, entrepreneurship, vocational training and college. In implementation, however, these targets are hardly achievable—at least, on its first year of operation.

At the Eastern Samar National Comprehensive High School (ESNCHS) in Borongan, for instance, the Senior High School program is far from ideal. One teacher was bewailing the fact that while Senior High School opened last school year, DepEd has not yet provided ESNCHS with even a single chair, much more a classroom. Some classes had to be shortened to give way to Senior High Student. This urgency for classrooms and chairs is still bearable. What is not is the scarcity of Senior High teachers. This school needs 65 qualified Senior High teachers. What the school got was only 36.

Word is going around that not all 36 Senior High teachers have the needed academic credentials so that students are bored because, reportedly, what they were teaching was a rerun of what they got in lower years.

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