A recent change in the Philippines’ educational system was initiated in 2011. President Aquino signed the K 12 education into law in 2013, adding three years to the country’s basic education curriculum.

The new K 12 curriculum guide requires all Filipino students to have one year of kindergarten, six years of elementary schooling (grades 1 to 6), four years of junior high school (grades 7 to 10), and two years of senior high school (grades 11 to 12).

The Rationale

Prior to the implementation of the K 12 curriculum guide, the Philippines was one of only three countries in the world and the only one in Asia that still had only 10 years in basic education.

This has always been seen as a disadvantage for our students who are competing in an increasingly global job market. The longer educational cycle of the K 12 curriculum is seen as critical in giving Filipino students a higher quality of education.

The Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization – Innotech (SEAMEO-Innotech) found the previous 10-year educational cycle to be congested, with a 12-year curriculum squished into 10 years.

As a result, Filipino students have trailed behind students around the world in the areas of math, languages and science. The new curriculum is aimed to fix that.

The K 12 curriculum is designed to enable graduates to join the work force right after high school, and suitably prepare those who want to go on to higher education.

The new curriculum will also support college graduates seeking work abroad. Developed countries, according to the Department of Education’s (DepEd) briefer, “view the 10-year education cycle as insufficient.”

All in all, the enhanced K 12 curriculum is designed to provide a holistic education for all. Now decongested, it will give students ample time to master basic academic skills as well as to participate in co-curricular and community activities.

What it means for students

The transition began in 2011, when the universal kindergarten was introduced. Starting in 2012, schools already implemented the curriculum decongestion mentioned in the DepEd briefer.

Public schools began having half-day classes for grade one students, with the mother tongue as the medium of instruction. Private schools also made adjustments in their own DepEd accredited curricula.

The adaptation of the K 12 curriculum guide means that students will graduate a bit older compared to those who graduated under the 10-year education cycle.

Far from being disadvantageous, however, DepEd states that young adults graduating at age 18 or so will be more prepared to take on their tertiary education

Remedial classes during the first year of college will no longer be needed, as the high school curriculum will already be aligned with the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) guidelines.

The government also encourages parents to think of the K 12 curriculum guide not as having two extra years of high school, but as two years less of higher education.

Graduates of the new educational system will already be equipped to join the workforce right away with the help of the electives to be offered during grades 11 to 12.

The electives, or areas of specialization, will include academics for those who wish to pursue higher studies, technical-vocational for those who want to acquire employable skills after high school, and sports and arts for those who are inclined in the two fields.

Change is never easy, especially when it is about a big undertaking such as the implementation of the new K-12 curriculum guide in the Philippines. It is high time, however, that we join the rest of the world and improve the quality of our basic education system and our graduates.